Starbucks China Background
China is the most important, and potentially the largest, market for Starbucks outside North America. Since the opening of the 1st Starbucks store in Taiwan in March 1998 , Mainland China at the China World Trade Building in Beijing in January 1999, Hong Kong in May 2000, and Macau in August 2002, the growing interest and appreciation of high quality coffee and the Starbucks Experience by Chinese consumers has produced steady store expansion throughout China. In the Mainland region with the fastest growth, there are over 1000 stores in 60 cities including Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen.
Within a period of time, Starbucks has successfully established itself as the premium coffee leader in China with great brand recognition and high customer satisfaction. Its inspirational, progressive, professional and intellectual image has been widely accepted by a variety of the Chinese l customers including, but not limited to, a rising upper-middle class “modern Chinese”, white collar workers, college students etc. The growing expat population and Chinese who know us from visiting overseas also form a core of our consumers. For many Chinese, Starbucks is not just the best coffee but a synonym of a universal quality life, a “modern” way of living, a positive life attitude, or an icon of a pioneering, progressing, transforming modern Chinese city. We are a “people” company more than a “coffee” company.
Taking a long-term vision in China, Starbucks remains confident in its success in the Chinese market, as it views itself as a “different kind of company” which is developing in China exactly at the time when the Chinese people are looking for more leisure lifestyle and when the company ideals mesh perfectly with China’s aspiration to develop a “harmonious society.” The fact that corporate social responsibility is at the heart of our company’s values is greatly appreciated by the Chinese people and society.
In China, Starbucks maintains the unique character of serving the finest coffee in the world and high quality globally appreciated food. While continuing to offer the best coffee, it is also leading in China in spreading coffee knowledge and expertise, and creating a coffee culture in a traditional tea-drinking society. The Starbucks store atmosphere is one which is similar to the old teahouse of China—a gathering place and a community living room.
Starbucks partners in China are as welcoming, genuine, considerate, knowledgeable, compassionate and involved as partners from around the world. They embrace the Starbucks culture and training, and truly deliver the legendary Starbucks service in China. They are real Starbucks ambassadors to bridge with customers and promote the coffee expertise and culture.
Also as in other parts of the world, the Starbucks Experience is unique and provides much more than a premium cup of coffee to customers. The “third place” concept, with the legendary Starbucks service, has resonated in China, as the Chinese people’s living standard rises and as they seek new leisure places and habits. It is a destination for human connection, meetings, dating, gathering with friends or be oneself. It fits nicely with Chinese society’s increasing yearning for a place that ‘makes them feel good’ in a hectic world. Moreover, Starbucks is fully respectful of the long history of Chinese tradition and culture and integrate the Starbucks experience with local customs, in store design, local food and drink offering etc., to uplift the unique Starbucks Experience which it is committed to offer.
And finally, Starbucks is not only running a for-profit business in China, but also contributing to the society through its corporate social responsibility programs—both at national and local levels. In September 2005, Starbucks sets up a 5 Million US dollars nationwide China Education Project to help improve education in the comparatively underdeveloped western and central areas, the first phase of which is a 2-week training for 500 school teachers from rural schools in Western China. In addition, locally, Starbucks partners across China are engaged in projects such as book drives, beach cleanups, disaster relief fundraising, coffee grounds environment project, school building, children tutoring, etc.
The Starbucks Greater China Support Center was established in late 2005 to oversee all facets of Starbucks activities—vision and strategy, business development and operations—in the Greater China market, including the Mainland, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.