As Starbucks advances its plan to more than double its locations in China in three years they are working on that delicate balance between maintaining their authentic, American image while adapting to the tastes of the local population.
Laurie Burkett’s recent article in the Wall St. Journal (wsj.com), “Starbucks Plays to Local Chinese Tastes” reports on some the steps they are taking.
This article isn’t startling new news. Rather it reminds us again of the challenges of being global and local – finding ways to change and be the same simultaneously - and the cost of not being able to do that well. For two American companies the cost was high. Home Depot and Best Buy left China in the last two years. They failed to adapt their model to the local environment.
When we read that Starbuck’s now has red bean drinks and Hainan chicken and rice wraps on their menu we may think it’s all changed. But no, the author tells us, they still use their U.S. Christmas cups in their Chinese stores. A touch of home. Local and Global. Expanding their footprint by finding the balance. Wherever one goes remember Starbucks: Red beans and Christmas Cups.