Many companies struggle to take hold in the Chinese market, thinking that Western ways just take time for Chinese customers to adapt to. Having recently figured this out after 14 years, Starbucks started offering local varieties of their products, things like bacon-gouda sandwiches and red bean frappuccinos. Now the coffee company is offering something Chinese customers are in desperate need of – space.
David Wolf, an expert on business in China told The Beijinger:
Starbucks invented the ‘third place in China,’ the default place to go to socialize and conduct business that was neither home nor office.
Some corporate employees even refer to the coffee company’s stores as “the public conference room.” This particular niche has arisen due to a distinct lack of venues that lie between fast food chains and fancy dining establishments. This makes Starbucks the default place for casual professional meetings, like job interviews, and social encounters, like dates.
Playing into this theme, Starbucks has opened more expansive stores in China that total 3,800 square feet (353 square meters); in the US, stores run around 1,700 to 2,700 square feet. The spaces are usually outfitted more like hotel lounges with plush seats, rather than watering holes with boney wood stools, as is often the case in Western Starbucks.
Take a look through the gallery to understand just how important social meeting spaces are for contemporary Chinese people: