Has Starbucks cracked the code in China?

Punch line: Many Western retailers have attempted to cash in on China’s 1.3 billion consumers, with limited success.  Starbucks’s plan to localize the menu and experience might be the key to success.

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Excerpted from brandchannel.com’s, “Starbucks Incorporates Local Tastes with China Expansion”

Western retailers have been completely bombarding China with products and sales pitches in recent years.

Having more than 1.3 billion consumers living within its borders can make a country’s citizens targets of such things.

Starbucks is about to go overdrive in its efforts to get the Chinese populace as dependent on their brand as plenty of Americans are, but the sell may not be so coffee-driven, but leverage the brand’s tea drinks and food menu.

China is still a tea-drinking nation.

So Starbucks established a research-and-development unit in the country in order to figure out what it could do to attract a larger audience than those looking for a cup of joe.

Starbucks China is serving up localized beverage and food items including a red bean frappaccino, green tea tiramisu, a Hainan chicken and rice wrap, a shredded ginger pork panini, and a Thai-style prawn wrap.

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Here are some other winners & losers in the Chinese market.

Another company that has succeeded to playing to local tastes in China is Yum Brands, as its KFC serves up fried shrimp and soy milk and its Pizza Huts there have added seafood bacon pizza and Thai-style fried rice.

But other companies haven’t had that much success.

Home Depot  closed all seven of its remaining big-box stores in China after years of losses, having discovered that the do-it-yourself home improvement model doesn’t work well in a do-it-for-me Chinese culture.

Best Buy closed its nine China outlets after discovering consumers needed washing machines, not espresso makers or stereos.

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