Paul French

In China Starbucks is not a place where you only fetch coffee, it is a symbol you have made it, as a person, and as a city where the global chain sets up shop, tells retail analyst Paul French in Adage.


“The way you know when you’ve arrived as a town or city is when Starbucks arrives. It used to be McDonald’s, and before that it was KFC,” said Paul French, chief China-market strategist at market-research firm Mintel. “Now Starbucks is the place where you go if you have cash and want to flash it. The new middle class can sit there and look out the window and drink their Frappuccino and say, “We’ve made it.'”…

Mr. French, the analyst, joked that Starbucks would make more money if it gave away free coffee and charged customers by the hour to sit in its stores.

Starbucks also has room to grow its food selections. Although the company has created products tailored to Asian preferences, such as its black sesame green-tea cake roll, local competitors are more creative, offering hot meals such as curry and pasta. Others sell dessert plates with six mini egg tarts or other sweets, designed for the group dynamic.

“That’s perfect for Chinese because they like to put a plate in the middle to share. Westerners just want a big fat muffin each,” Mr. French said.

More in Adage.

 Paul French is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need him at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers’ request form.

On Thursday November 8 the China Weekly Hangout (10pm Beijing Time, 3pm CET, 10am EST) will focus on the future of nuclear power in China, what are the risks after Fukushima, and might a succesful NIMBY protest be possible? Here you can register at our events page. Or see the announcement here.

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