American global coffee company and coffeehouse chain Starbucks Corporation is set to open its 1,000th store in China before the year 2013 ends, effectively making the latter its number two market, toppling Canada.
Starbucks at the Forbidden City, Beijing, China
"China is our 'second home' market outside of the U.S.," John Culver, Starbucks Group President of China and Asia Pacific, was quoted by USA Today, noting the company will even open a 24-hour location outlet in Beijing.
Regardless that China is very much tea-centric, Starbucks highly believed it will succeed in its ambitious plan to tap the growing market of more than 1.2 billion people, more than three times larger than the U.S. market.
To capture the massive China market, Starbucks plans to focus its operations from the afternoon towards the evening, very much the opposite of those in the U.S. which open before 10 a.m.
"It's a lifestyle to the Chinese," Mr Culver said. "It's much more of a gathering place for social occasions."
As it opened two iconic, flagship stores on Monday in China, Starbucks hinted it takes great pains to come up and design a store that would cater to the distinctive taste of the market there.
Starbucks in Shunde District, China
One of the stores, a 4,000 square-foot, two-story outlet, has a giant, illuminated Starbucks icon outside the building that can be seen from blocks away. It is located at one of Beijing's busiest intersections.
The other features ceiling-to-floor glass windows. Located in a younger, hipper area of Beijing, it will be open 24/7. It has a special club that features live music on weekends on the second floor.
"The challenge is to get a tea-drinking culture to drink more coffee," Mr Culver said.
Starbucks has more than 12,000 locations in the U.S. It targets to have 4,000 locations across China and Asia Pacific by yearend.
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