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Global Marketing

An American Brand in China

On our last day in Beijing a group of students led by Amy and May deiced to take the subway to a local market street. It was a small row of shops down a tight ally and to my surprise vehicles of all kinds are actually allowed to drive on this alleyway despite the massive crowds of people and tight corners. However, this long alley offered a variety of local shops and food places. We stopped off to get some shaved mango ice with fresh fruit and from there we kept walking through the numerous shops.

Toward the end of the street there was a small hotel and inside was a Starbucks. As apart of our assignment today we were told to analyze the similarities and differences in operations of American brands conducting business in China. In the United States, Starbucks is often placed strategically inside other businesses such as hotels and grocery stores. In terms of operations the Starbucks ran no differently from one in Orange. It was of similar size and held the same amount of staff; one employee took the orders while one barista fulfilled the orders. When placing my order I received great service, obviously there was a language barrier, but I received my coffee fairly quickly. Nonetheless there were a few differences I observed while ordering.

The differences I noticed are a result of cultural differences between China and the United States. For instance, the menu is similar, but offers additional items such as “dragon dumplings” with fruit and of course their tea offerings are more extensive. I believe, as a worldwide brand Starbucks will cater to all of its customers needs depending on the location. Additionally, in American culture we are often known for having large portions and our drink sizes are no exception. As a foreigner in China it’s surprising to see this difference first-hand, however, unlike other American brands Starbucks sold the same cup sizes as in the United States. I believe this merely comes down to having a worldwide standard size for a tall, grande, and venti cup. It simplifies manufacturing and distribution of cups to the various locations around the world. However, I noticed that cups offered for sale on the shelves such as the tumblers and mugs were smaller than those sold in America. Overall it was a fun free day exploring Beijing.