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Keeping the brand full of beans

(China Daily)

08:54, February 21, 2013

A Starbucks cafe in Beijing. The US-based coffee chain now has 700-plus outlets in more than 50 cities in the Chinese mainland. Provided to China Daily

Global coffee chain looks for further expansion in China as it seeks to fend off rival outlets

Coffee industry veteran John Culver said he is very proud to be a pioneer in bringing the drinking culture of the beverage to this vast country with its 1.3 billion population and many thousands of years of history of drinking tea.

"Thirteen years ago, when we first entered this market, a coffee house culture did not exist in China. The Chinese had no idea what high quality Arabica coffee was and they really had no place to go to take their friends and family to try it," said Culver, president of Starbucks Coffee China and Asia-Pacific.

After opening its first outlet in the Chinese mainland in 1999, Starbucks has swept the market with its US-style coffee culture. Its image of a mermaid is now an icon of a chic Western lifestyle among Chinese people. Today, the chain consists of 700 cafes in more than 50 cities on the Chinese mainland, a firm foothold by any standard in this land of tea drinkers.

Undoubtedly many stick to their tea drinking habit. But coffee has a fast-growing appeal among younger people in big cities. To them, it's not just the coffee. It's the entire experience created by the meticulously planned and designed environment of the cafes that serve the drink.

According to the latest Euromonitor report, Starbucks has a 61 to 62 percent market share in China's coffee house sector, way above its closest competitor.

The company recently announced an ambitious plan to open 2,400 new outlets across the world over the next two years.

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Email|Print|Comments(Editor:HuangBeibei、Liang Jun)

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