My father showed me a series of news reports from China about Starbucks starting to sell tea in China. I thought they are interesting to share. These interviews are from TV and newspapers. Since I can't memorize exact words, I paraphrase most of them. Light colored texts are my comments.
Interview with a Starbucks manager -
Reporter: What makes Starbucks start selling tea?
Manager: (talking about market, culture, bla bla bla...) In major cities of China, Starbucks is still the largest coffee chain store, but there is more and more competition from European and Southeastern Asian coffee chain stores.
Manager: Some of our customers enjoy our cafe environment more than enjoying coffee (that's funny and true). Therefore including more Chinese elements in our products attract more consumers.
Reporter: How confident are you about Starbucks selling tea to Chinese?
Manager: Well, I am more cautious about selling tea than selling coffee. Most Chinese are not picky about coffee (That's very true, and it's funny that Starbucks coffee still sells well in China for about $3.7 per cup, which is the price of a decent restaurant meal in China.) but people are surely pickier about tea. So far sales records are excellent. Currently tea is 15%-20% of our sales. (I am impressed by the power of Starbucks! Starbucks tea is about $2.8 - $3.4 per small cup, still price of a decent restaurant meal in China! I am impressed that Chinese are still willing to pay this price for Starbucks tea while they can get tea all over the city in much lower prices.)
Interview with consumers -
Reporter: What's your comment about Starbucks selling tea?
Consumer 1: It's nice that Starbucks tries to include Chinese elements. That's a good thing! Well, it's good, as long as they don't get too Chinese. (I guess he made a point. Who would pay for $3.4 a cup if it's totally Chinese AND it's in China!)
Consumer 2: I guess it will attract some older people to Starbucks. I am not interested. Starbucks coffee sounds cool. Starbucks tea sounds odd. (I read this from paper, but guess it must be a young guy.)
Consumer 3: I am sure the tea they sell is foreigners' tea. Nothing like what I would drink daily. Why would one go to Starbucks for tea? (This one sounds like my mother. She always call teabags "tea for foreigners". Although I haven't tasted it, and may not want to spend $3 to taste it, I do think the starbucks tea looks and sounds better than teabags.)
Consumer 4: In my opinion, what you drink in a cafe is not important. What's important to me is the relaxing environment of a cafe. (In China, most cafe chain stores like Starbucks are expensive and considered "decent".) Then of course it's great when there are more choices and tea options. (I believe what he says represents opinions of many business consumers. In China, many business conversations carry out in restaurants and cafes like Starbucks. Going to Starbucks is an expenditure standard for some businessmen. Then for those who don't really enjoy coffee, tea options are good news.)
Interview with teahouse owner -
Reporter: Will Starbucks selling tea cause impacts on business of local teahouses? (To be honest, when I lived in Beijing, I never really cared about "local teahouses". Most of them are simply too expensive for ordinary people. A pot of tea often costs you many decent restaurant meals.)
Teahouse owner: I believe it's good influence. Young people like Starbucks more than traditional teahouses. If Starbucks gets more young people interested in tea, it's good news to all of us. After all, when people know more about tea, they will seek for more tea and tea of higher quality. Then they can possibly become our customers. (That's a good point. Or people buy loose leaf tea and make tea at home.)
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