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Starbucker

August 23rd, 2004

I found this story of globalisation and soft power at charlotte street, via bertramonline. As bertram says, you can’t make this kind of thing up.

I had a look at a closely-related phenomenon (Americans seeking a Starbucks overseas and imagining all the locals go there) in this piece

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  1. August 24th, 2004 at 04:36 | #1

    Your lengthier piece helped banish some stupid ideas I had about American chains overseas. Thanks.

    Speaking strictly anecdotally about McDonalds, however: They seem to be always packed in European cities. I avoid eating McD’s here in the U.S. and abroad (okay, not always–I do like their fries), but in Europe I have been dragged (dragged, I say!) to McDs by locals, and had to wade through crowds bigger than any in such restaurants around home.

    In one case I was taken to McDs by a German outside Hannover, and then caught a ride home with the German’s sister who worked at the McDs and who roundly criticized me for being an American who eats at such foul places.

    There must be some match-up with local tastes, right? Or are 90 percent of those diners American (or Canadian) tourists?

    Also speaking subjectively, Starbucks makes better coffee than many a local coffee shop in America. It’s a sad thing.

  2. August 24th, 2004 at 04:52 | #2

    I expand on a comment John made (just about a year ago) in Starbucks created an industry.

  3. August 24th, 2004 at 05:41 | #3

    McDonalds is the only edible food you can buy in Japan. Everything else is fermented squid ink sacs and bamboo noodles and stuff. They do make some good alcohol, though, so Starbucks isn’t required.

  4. Martin Pike
    August 24th, 2004 at 13:07 | #4

    In my old nook of London I didn’t mind the local starbucks. There was only one of it, and it was one of maybe only 3 decent cafes in the area. I went a couple of times a week.

    Unfortunately it was struggling a bit, and so kept closing the “lounge” section I liked, or even shut down early some evenings.

    Suddenly 2 more starbucks appeared, within 500m of the first. Why? All 3 got a medium number of people, but there were a couple of more popular cafes. Despite this I am told one of those has now shut, and the starbucks empire in the area has expanded to 5. Why?

    Along the same lines, Lygon street in Melbourne has some of the best coffee in the world, and some of the highest real estate prices in my current city, I am sure. A starbucks has opened in the middle of the most competitive strip. I peer in it regularly (I’d sooner bite off my own penis and wash it down with retsina than go in..) and it has never been overly busy.

    Why is it still open? How do these places manage to hold on and expand when similar customer numbers would put an ordinary mum n dad place straight out of business.

    The simplistic explanation of consumer choice, apart from being affronted by the monopolies that eventuate, is obviously not adequate to explain the phenomenon.

    To me it appears no individual startup can ever compete fairly in such a situation.

    John if you’ve blogged the answer to this before, can you point me there, or else blog it now…

  5. August 24th, 2004 at 15:59 | #5

    “McDonalds is the only edible food you can buy in Japan.”
    [raised eyebrows]They don’t even make the best burgers in Japan.
    On the main point, Starbucks had phenomenal growth in Tokyo, they found the gap in the market because of overpriced filter coffee being the norm at most traditional coffee shops.

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