Howard Schultz, the current CEO and Chairman of the “Starbucks Coffee Company” brought a new vision to the company. After a trip to Milan in 1983 he had found an opportunity within the US market: “The Italian coffee bar…the extension of people’s front porch; the third place”. The brand differentiated itself within the market by establishing a distinctive, strong culture and by offering a unique customer experience:
“Our mission: to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.”
In light of the Social Media Revolution, an era where consumers can instantly communicate on a global level, and where “34% of bloggers post opinions about products and brands”, the definition of Marketing and communication has shifted. Howard Schultz seized the opportunity to turn this into a significant competitive advantage: “Starbucks has created an unbelievable discipline and competency in this category. We are the number one consumer brand on Facebook: that is not an accident. We view social media as a way to engage our customers. Traditional marketing is changing dramatically. You can’t tell people anymore, you can’t push people: you’ve got to engage them in a conversation and they have to trust the source. We have looked at this as a category of a significant investment and we’ve seen a significant return as a result of it.”
The return Starbucks has received in relation to the brand’s investment in social media is verified by the extent to which the business has been affected. In the year of 2008 sales had dropped for the first time since it had become a publicly traded company in 1992. Schultz then launched their first social media initiative: MyStarbucksIdea.com, a consumer portal with a concept of crowd sourcing where customers can share ideas and suggestions in order to build on the Starbucks “experience”. The website currently has 180,000 registered users and while 80,000 ideas have been posted, almost 100 of them have...