The move was announced at the company’s first-ever China investor conference, held in Shanghai this week, in which it announced its ambition to expand at a rate of a new store every 15 hours during the next half decade, according to Inside Retail Asia.
“The power of our brand in China, the strength and momentum in our business, and the world-class Chinese leadership team give me great confidence in our ability to capture the enormous growth opportunities ahead in this dynamic market,” said the company’s CEO and president, Kevin Johnson.
He noted to investors and the media the impressive way in which the company has engaged with expanding demographics in the country. “No Western company or brand is better positioned to evolve with the rapidly expanding Chinese middle class – and we continue to mindfully evolve a coffee culture in China where the reward will be healthy, long-term, profitable growth for decades to come.”
Despite the fact that, historically, China has been a tea-drinking territory, some observers have argued that Starbucks’ success is down to its engagement with the overarching philosophy of Confucianism that has informed Chinese culture for centuries, one that manifests in the consultant Tom Doctoroff’s words as a socially mobile and meritocratic social system.
The company’s success in China works, he said, “by conforming to the public consumption imperative” and offering opportunities to show social status.” What’s more, coffee prices are 30% more expensive than in the US, highlighting the way in which the brand’s exclusivity and the message of the logo is key to the brand’s position.
According to Inside Retail, reporting from the conference, the company’s engagement with modern data processes has fed into and helped the brand track growth. In the last four years, the number of loyalty members has grown to 7 million – almost tripling – with 90% of those members using the firm’s app. Meanwhile, the company has engaged with gifting culture, launching features on both WeChat and Alibaba platforms with “Say it with Starbucks.”
Sourced from Inside Retail Asia, WARC