Starbucks is already one of the most recognizable brands in the United States. Stand on any street corner in any U.S. city, and you’re likely to see one of their locations, if not several. But the company is not content just to dominate the domestic market. They have bigger aspirations than that, and they’re acting upon them in 2018. According to the Washington Post, the Starbucks brand is now intent on conquering China.
The coffee titan already has a footprint established in the world’s most populous nation. Currently, the company operates about 3,300 stores across 141 cities in China. Now, though, we can expect those numbers to ramp up in a big way. Starbucks’ goal is to open 600 new stores each year and to have broken into 100 new Chinese cities by 2022. It wouldn’t be surprising if the company was able to revolutionize how the Chinese think about coffee shops within just a few years.
“If you look at the U.S. over the last 20 or 30 years, [Starbucks] didn’t introduce Americans to coffee, but they did introduce Americans to a certain take on cafe culture, a certain way of consuming coffee and experience coffee,” said Michael Schaefer, global lead for food and beverage at Euromonitor International. “I think there’s a view that that space is wide open for them in China.”
Starbucks isn’t just opening new stores, it’s also rolling out an aggressive new approach to product distribution. Nestle, which owns Nescafe and Nespresso, just agreed to pay over $7 billion for the rights to sell Starbucks coffee and tea in stores, a move that executives say will open “global coffee alliance” with a great deal of influence in China especially
Whether Starbucks’ aggressive move into China will pay off depends on the marketplace’s response. Experts told the Post it will depend largely on the middle class, which is rapidly growing. Wells Fargo has estimated that the number of Chinese people with discretionary income grew a whopping 35 percent between 2013 and 2017. If those people are willing to spend for a nice cup of coffee, we may just see the Starbucks brand catch on.
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