Starbucks in China – not always easy!
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Starbucks has long been touted as the poster child of expansion in China. After all, it’s no small feat that the brand has managed to successfully market expensive coffee products to a nation of tea-drinkers.
One of the keys to triumph for the company has undeniably been its clever marketing strategy: rather than promising to undercut the domestic market, Starbucks delivers high-quality luxury beverages to China’s affluent urban population. They have preserved their image as a prestigious brand whilst adapting their menu to suit Chinese tastes – even getting away with charging the same prices they do in the West. Recently, Starbucks has been able to expand into smaller, slightly less affluent Chinese markets like Hangzhou in eastern China.
Starbucks is no stranger to criticism in China: in 2000, they infamously opened up shop at the Forbidden City, sparking outrage from Chinese and Western media outlets alike. In 2005, their branch at the Badaling segment of the Great Wall caused further anger. Last week they stoked tempers yet again when they opened their newest branch outside Hangzhou’s ancient Lingyin Temple, a Buddhist site renowned for it’s size and beauty. It didn’t take long for backlash to brew on Sina Weibo, where Chinese commentators remarked on what they perceived to be a poor choice of location: “[t]he smell of the combination of coffee beans and burning incense must be the fragrant smell of money”, wrote one. Local authorities quickly jumped to Starbucks’s defense, stating that the shop is in fact in a tourist area near the temple, not actually onsite. A less social media savvy company may have left it at that, but Starbucks swiftly made amends by responding via it’s own Sina Weibo account, speaking directly to concerned consumers. It also changed the name of this particular café to reflect its distance from the sacred site itself, going so far as to remove the word “temple” from the branch name. In this way, the company addressed its problem directly, actively participating in the online dialog and demonstrating that even the largest global corporations can save face by carefully managing their online presence.
can i buy Pregabalin in spain Social Media in China
For all its mistakes and overly brazen decisions, Starbucks has consistently been ahead of the game in China when it comes to social media. As one of the first Western corporate adopters on Sina Weibo, Starbucks has taken advantage of the platform to share deals and rewards directly with clients, thanking their loyal fanbase for years of patronage. By asking Chinese consumers engaging questions and talking to them each day, the company conveys an impression of genuine friendliness – proving that even repeated cultural transgressions can be forgiven with a little bit of social grace.