The ‘Nog Problem: Starbucks Quickly Reacts After Social Media Uproar

This week, we’re bringing you an example of a public company that read the lay of the land when there was a social media uproar, and quickly reacted to ensure their customers and shareholders continued happiness. Nowadays, social media is a great way to take the temperature on a company business move. See what investors are saying about you, and always keep an ear out of things like this!

Who knew this little guy could cause so much drama: 

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Last week, Starbucks Coffee got into a little hot water of their own but quickly hopped out again after demonstrating both an attentiveness to social media feedback and a quick response to waves of negative comments. With the launch of their  annual ‘red holiday cups’ last week, complete with their first new holiday drink in 5 years, Starbucks (and the rest of the world) prepared for the predictable onslaught of internet excitement over the return of the famous red cups and seasonal drink regulars.

Well, the internet freaked out alright. But not in the way Starbucks anticipated.  For this holiday season, the coffee company had decided to discontinue their famous ‘Eggnog Latte,’ leaving it out of the rotation in favor of their new drink. According to Time.com, “Starbucks had dropped the seasonal drink…in an effort to streamline its menu”.

Immediately, there was a social media uproar. 

Countless complaint letters were written and phone calls were made, along with hundreds of scathing tweets and comments on the company’s Facebook page. Everyone demanded the return of their favourite holiday drink.

It looked like people were out for blood. Instead of ignoring the complaints and attempting to further promote their new holiday drink, Starbucks quickly reacted to the feedback and immediately brought back the EggNog Latte. Linda Mills, a Starbucks representative, announced soon after:

“We received passionate feedback from our customers talking about how much they love our Eggnog Latte on social media, through MyStarbucksIdea.com, through letters and via phone calls.These messages were emotional and personal…We heard them and quickly acted.”

This tweet quickly went out only hours later:

What’s more, Starbucks didn’t only fix the problem, they also profoundly apologized to their customers. Says Laura Mills,

We made a mistake…We are very sorry…Starbucks has learned its lesson.

The fact that even a corporate giant like Starbucks admitted that they always have learning to do sat very well with customers, who praised the company’s fast response. This move by Starbucks wasn’t the first time they reacted lighting-fast to criticisms. A few years ago they attempted to reintroduce some of their cakes in loaves instead of slices, but quickly changed them back after numerous complaints. USA Today writes,

For retailers in the social media era, instantly responding to consumer gripes is critical. Quick action is especially critical for Starbucks in the holiday season, by far its most profitable period…One corporate branding expert says that Starbucks knows what many companies still need to learn. ‘All companies need to become more nimble to respond to this kind of feedback…customers can use social media to tell you more about what they want. It’s a new way of test marketing’“. 

Although Starbucks responded to the customer frustration with promises and cheer, that didn’t mean it was easy for them to bring back the EggNog Latte. USA Today notes that “Starbucks hopes to have the drink back in all stores by the week of Nov. 17…the problem is quickly getting enough eggnog from suppliers”. Though it may cause a temporary headache for many at the company, Starbucks showed that it was willing to change original plans if those plans didn’t go over well with customers.Flexibility is key, in any company, as an idea that may seem like a hit might not sit well with the masses. With an ear poised towards the social media conversation, Starbucks was able to swiftly fix the problem and ultimately come out on top. 


Marika Hirsch
Marika Hirsch

As Blender’s Content Manager (aka ‘Resident Wordsmith’) Marika enjoys bringing readers the latest and greatest in both digital trends and IR tips. Follow along on Twitter: