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Starbucks in China, a witness to the nation’s development

(People's Daily Overseas New Media)    15:25, January 21, 2019

(Photo courtesy of Starbucks)

Before Starbucks entered the Chinese market around 20 years ago, China was mostly regarded as a tea loving country first and foremost. As time went by, however, the American company’s business in the nation blossomed along with the deepened reform and opening-up.

The first Starbucks opened in China World Tower in Beijing’s CBD. At the time, it was most acceptable place for the company, because consumption was low in 1999.

As a newcomer to the tea-drinking society, Starbucks coffee was not a big hit with most people and was mostly seen as a way to bring the East and West closer together through common interests and shared values.

In 1999, China’s urban population totaled 436 million and the average person spent 300 yuan per year on eating out. At that time, China’s most developed cities, namely, Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen, had a combined total resident population of 41.37 million.

The population of urban residents grew with the advancement of urbanization advanced in China, reaching 817 million in 2017, and the four cities’ combined population increased to 66.2 million. With the greater purchasing power and the changes in lifestyle, average consumer spending went up from 314 yuan in 2001 to 1,315 yuan in 2012, which created abundant opportunities for Starbucks to increase its scales and quantities.

Taking Shanghai as an example, there is already more than 689 Starbucks stores. Compared with the US city of New York, Starbucks in Shanghai can, on average, serve more people (35,000 people) with coffee than stores in New York (24,000 people).

Starbucks, along with other international brands, have grown together with China, now stretching into many second-tier cities. Now, this American brand has entered 150 cities across China, with more than 3,600 Starbucks stores.

To cater Chinese customers’ demand for simple take-out food, the first take-out Starbucks coffee appeared in September 2018 on the website Ele.me, one of China’s biggest platforms for online food delivery service.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Jiang Jie, Bianji)

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