What Starbucks has done so successfully is selling to consumer’s “unaware” needs beyond a good cup of coffee. As it expands globally, Starbucks has been skilled at introducing coffee and service in a way that fit the local culture and demographic.
Fast Company reports that Liz Muller, the director of concept design for Starbucks, had China’s one-child policy in mind when she created a 24-hour store in Beijing’s Taikoo Li Sanlitun shopping center.
To Muller it made perfect sense to create a hub for young people: the area had no place where it was easy and safe to make interpersonal connections. “A lot of these children have grown up in one-child families, they use our store as a connection of truly interacting with, I would say, their brothers and sisters that they don’t have,” said Muller. “Unless you want to sit in a restaurant or a bar, there is nothing in that area [around Taikoo Li] that truly gives you a safe environment where you can have a meeting or chat, or get together with friends,” she said.
It’s not easy to be a child of China’s one-child policy. Fast Company recounts the “4-2-1” phenomenon, whereby young people find themselves the breadwinners not only for themselves, but also for their parents and four grandparents. The social initiative, studies say, have left people raised under the policy less trusting, and guys have a harder time finding dates. That is why Muller strove to make a warm, open environment with plate glass, soft lights, and low, soft furniture.
The Taikoo Li Sanlitun store, a sister to Muller’s coffee tribute store in Beijing’s Kerry Centre, also has a space on its second floor for live music on the weekends. The lounge-like interiors make the store enjoyable during the day, but at night when the lounge gleams amid darkened storefronts, it welcomes newcomers. “At this time, the response has been overwhelming. People are just in awe,” Muller said.
While Starbucks patrons at Taikoo Li Sanlitun – like Starbucks patrons everywhere else – are mainly tuned in to their iPads and iPhones, Muller has found that people also set them down and connect in a special way. “I think it is interesting because if you think of how they are raised, they might not have extended family that we all have, so they truly take the time to connect with people,” she said.
image credit: picturewendy