I just read an interesting Q&A with Terry Davenport, Senior VP-Marketing at Starbucks. Here are some of the lessons that many companies can learn from his comments:
- “The internet still skews pretty young, especially with MyStarbucksIdea.com.” The company’s online suggestion box gets input from mostly a younger audience, so they can’t assume that it’s fully representative of their audience. My take: Make sure that you understand this phenomena for any online feedback mechanism that you use.
- “There’s another new tool we put in place… the customer passion panel.“ Starbucks uses this demographically representative online panel to test ideas. My take: All firms should think of developing a standing panel like this to lower the hurdle for getting ongoing customer feedback on a wide range of product and marketing ideas.
- “It’s <the cup> one of the best marketing tools we have.” Starbucks switched the logo on its cup from green to brown and will be switching it back to green again. My take: Don’t underestimate the potential of branding on all of your packaging: product containers, shopping bags, and shipping boxes.
- “Vivanno has been in the innovation stream almost a year now…“ Davenport talked almost nonchalantly about the company’s stream of innovations. My take: Companies should have pipelines of innovations and a consider a reinvention goal like having 30% of revenues come from products that have been introduced in the previous 3 years.
- “Sorbetto we saw from a couple of different angles in Italy.“ Sorbetto is a new product that is currently being launched in Los Angeles; it was developed during a trend-spotting trip to Italy last year. My take: Make sure you develop some approaches for innovation that get people in your company to periodically think outside of the box.
The bottom line: Keep an eye on Starbucks’ reinvention efforts