Screen cap of top 3 MSI ideas as of September 20 2013I thought it would be fun to take a look at the top three most popular ideas currently on My Starbucks Idea right now.  For those who do not know, Starbucks has an idea suggestion website called “My Starbucks Idea.”  It was launched to the world on March 19, 2008 – and when it was new, there were only “up votes” and a person could not vote an idea down.  From what I know, Starbucks got the idea for My Starbucks Idea from Dell’s IdeaStorm website.  I have a very old blog post (ugh – the blog was really new and I was still getting the hang of this) on the history of here.

Today, I glanced at the MyStarbucksIdea, and noticed that top three current ideas are all great topics and worth talking about:

The first idea is “Star Milestone Incentives.

I love this idea!  I think, to some degree, Starbucks has quasi-launched this idea with the many “Star Dash” competitions that have been offered over the course of the last twelve months.  There is a current fall “Star Dash” going on right now.  If you don’t know what I mean by “Star Dash,” I wrote an article about them when they were brand new.  There was an August 2012  Star Dash which I wrote about here.  There is a current fall Star Dash going on right now.


And well, the other fantastic thing about this idea is that the person who created it, “Diele” is an awesome partner who just got promoted to Store Manager!  Congrats on having the number one MyStarbucksIdea idea and promoting to store manager this week!  I really wanted to give her a shout out!

The second idea is “Notify barista on-screen of card reward.

The touchstone of this idea is that customers would like to be prompted of when there is a reward available to use.  I don’t think this is a bad idea at all.  I think that people (both partners and customers alike) sometimes think that every customer is the same.

Actually, when I think about this idea, I am reminded of the 80/20 rule of business.  About 80% of your sales come from 20% of your customers.  I think this fits Starbucks well.  In fact, this Business Insider article mentions that 20% of Starbucks customers come in more than 16 times each month.  For the 20% group of customers, they know how to access their rewards.  If you are visiting Starbucks 16 times a month, you are likely use either the iPhone or Android app to help track your rewards.  And by the sheer fact that you’re going to Starbucks that much, it is likely that you have a company-operated location nearby and can easily redeem your rewards.  By the way, if Starbucks loses one of these customers, they are much more costly to lose than the 80% group.  It’s possible you’ll have to have many customers walking in the door before you’ll find another 20%-er.  By using Google, I found that 20% statistic, but to bolster that, I say that have heard similar statistics from Starbucks by listening to events posted on the Starbucks Investor Relations page.  And this reminds me, when I worked retail briefly (at Eddie Bauer), I never assumed much about a customer from one snapshot in time.  You never know how much a customer is spending elsewhere, when not at your specific store.

Now, getting back to this idea: if you are in the 80% group of customers, the fact of the matter is that you’re earning rewards at a much slower rate than the 20% group.  It’s possible that you receive only a few Lucky Dozen rewards each year.  For this group of customers, the rewards program probably can feel bewildering.  They don’t come in to Starbucks often enough to really understand what’s going on.  They may not be tracking rewards with a smart phone app.  I can easily understand how this group can easily “miss” rewards.  They slip right by.  It would be a very nice courtesy if Starbucks found a way to notify customers that there is a reward available.  In addition, that courtesy will go a long way to create goodwill.  What Starbucks really hopes to do is take some of that 80% group and convert them into more frequent customers – like the 20%-ers.  People, generally speaking, have an extremely high internal sense of reciprocity, when “given” something (“here’s your reward!”), that can go a long way into enticing them to return more often.

Lastly, the third most popular idea is “Stars for EVERY purchase.”  I don’t really want to say all that much about this.  All I do know is that people have a very strong sense of tit-for-tat.  Sure, people might say “Oh, I’m not a score keeper,” but even if we don’t want to admit it, deep inside there is a bit of tit-for-tat in most everyone. That strong sense (which is indeed related to the strong sense of reciprocity) nags at people, and they think, “This isn’t right. It’s not a fair score if I buy5 coffee mugs, I should get more back than the same one star, as if I bought one cookie.”

If you are going to debate how stars are earned in the comments, I quickly delete your comments that are over-personalized, nasty, and rude.  If you can’t intelligently argue and articulate your thoughts without attacks, maybe this isn’t the blog for you. 🙁

All I know is this:  This area will forever be an area of confusion, angst, and anxiety until Starbucks comes with some alternative means of earning stars.  And, Starbucks is no small business. They make billions in profit annually.  I bet someday that the card program will change again. Someday – but it might be years down the road.