Customer knowledge management via social media: The case of Starbucks

Alton Y.K. Chua, Snehasish Banerjee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


– The purpose of this paper is to analyze the extent to which the use of social media can support customer knowledge management (CKM) in organizations relying on a traditional bricks‐and‐mortar business model.

– The paper uses a combination of qualitative case study and netnography on Starbucks, an international coffee house chain. Data retrieved from varied sources such as newspapers, newswires, magazines, scholarly publications, books, and social media services were textually analyzed.

– Three major findings could be culled from the paper. First, Starbucks deploys a wide range of social media tools for CKM that serve as effective branding and marketing instruments for the organization. Second, Starbucks redefines the roles of its customers through the use of social media by transforming them from passive recipients of beverages to active contributors of innovation. Third, Starbucks uses effective strategies to alleviate customers' reluctance for voluntary knowledge sharing, thereby promoting engagement in social media.

Research limitations/implications
– The scope of the paper is limited by the window of the data collection period. Hence, the findings should be interpreted in the light of this constraint.

Practical implications
– The lessons gleaned from the case study suggest that social media is not a tool exclusive to online businesses. It can be a potential game‐changer in supporting CKM efforts even for traditional businesses.

– This paper represents one of the earliest works that analyzes the use of social media for CKM in an organization that relies on a traditional bricks‐and‐mortar business model.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)237-249
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Knowledge Management
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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