by: Matt Rhodes

Today has been a day of a few announcements from Starbucks. They are expanding their menu and are trying to appeal to different audiences. Today the announcements have been about a new healthy range of breakfast products; a few weeks ago it was a new ‘nurishing’ smoothie with added protein and fibre - Vivanno.

So how has MyStarbucksIdea been involved in the development of some of these ideas. If quantitiy of discussions is any indication, then respectably. Over 500 separate comments on Vivanno are on the community. These range from simple announcements of the product in local stores, through suggestions of new flavours, to more fundamental suggestions about the product.

The simplest ideas are sometimes the best. User ’smadh’ posts a direct comment but one that is a great addition to new product development: add black cherries to the chocolate banana vivanno. There is discussions and disagreement, ‘cosmokitty’ wants small size drinks (sometimes a Grande is just too much), whilst ’san_jose_alex’ wants the opposite (The Vivanno is delicious and successful. Now it is time to offer it in a larger size!). And in among the over 500 comments there are some that go into more detail. ‘Redwest’ makes a suggestion about the healthy-eating credentials of the drink:

I tried the Chocolate Banana today and was pleasant surprised! Tasted pretty good! My suggestion is trying to keep that exact flavor and cutting down the sugar some… I think that would help this “healthy” drink be even better!

And ‘mizmak35′ was less keen on the drink but makes some suggestions abotu how to make it more appealing:

The Vivanno is neither a Smoothie nor a Frappachino. It was very THIN (like a chocolate milk with a banana thrown in) I would NOT get this again as I am a Frappe addict.
Try making a “real” smoothie consistency and try a chocolate/raspberry combo. Maybe you need to get a soft yogurt machine to compete with the smoothie shops

This level of comment and insight from consumers is of incredible use to a brand and it is good to also see exchanges between members of the community about these comments. Starbucks is able to use these comments and suggestions to feed back into their product development cycle and take changes to market much quicker than they might have been able to before.

Communities like MyStarbucksIdea are a great way to find out how customers respond to new products and to amend them and make changes based on the ideas you are given and the discussions you witness. This is why so many organisations build online research communities, creating a specific space for customers to respond and share ideas and for brands to get real customer insight.

Of course it isn’t clear yet how much the ideas discussed about the Vivanno will be implemented by Starbucks in store. But it will be interesting to watch how all these discussions about the new ‘healthier’ product launches translate into changes to the actual product. Given the level of engagement and involvement that Starbucks have built, it would be a shame if these ideas weren’t used.

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