Globalization’s Localization



(I’m not gleaning any deeper meaning or omen from the tee shirt. But I have my eyes peeled).

Starbucks in China is a good example of how an American brand has been interpreted locally in interesting ways. Of course everywhere, including China, half the people waiting in line are busy with their smart phones, oblivious to the world.

I was thinking about this topic because at more and more Starbucks in China, including the one above in Dujiangyen, Sichuan Province, you can’t buy a real cup of coffee. There is no ordinary coffee to be had, no drip or percolated coffee, no choice between medium and bold blends – just a long menu of frappuchino-style smoothies.

Well, yes, you can get an americano, but I was in the mood for a regular cup of joe. I’m not lodging some huge complaint with the Universe. I ┬ájust find it interesting.


In China, Starbucks does not offer much in the way of substantial food, and certainly no salads or wraps. No bagels with cream cheese. Because of the tea culture, these foreign cafes are more inclined to serve treats, most of which are not as sweet as they look (the Chinese do not as strong a sweet tooth as Americans).

It’s rather clever of Starbucks really, to adjust their stores for the local market. The Starbucks in the Philippines are also completely different.

Starbucks in China is an afternoon idea. People go shopping in the mall and then stop in for a coffee-inspired milkshake (to be accurate) and a snack. Most Starbucks in China are not even open in the early morning hours, and many cafes do not open until 10 or 11 am – unthinkable for westerners who are hoping to be jacked up on caffeine by that time.

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