The popular coffee franchise has made a statement in a number of different markets, but has it met its match against Vietnam? The Seattle based coffee chain put its first location in Ho Chi Minh City in February. This country is known to have a very specific way of making coffee; nothing like what Starbucks has in the U.S.
The main concern here is if Starbucks will thrive in this new country, or become a complete failure. I believe The Critical Decisions of Operations Management should be highly considered. One of the points is based on the design of goods and services. Starbucks has made a point to please the locals by making a special drink called the Asian Dolce Latte to appeal to local palates. By doing this Starbucks has a better chance to win over the locals that are so keen to stick to their original tastes. When taking a domestic product abroad, I believe having differentiation in the good or service is also extremely important. Since Starbucks has a flavor of coffee unlike anything the Vietnamese are used to, this differentiation can potentially give them the competitive advantage they need in order to succeed. Starbucks CEO Howard Shultz quotes, “The environment that we create, the store design, the experience…they all add up to a much different position to anything that anyone in Vietnam currently occupies.”
Another critical decision is location strategy. Now, Shultz did not just wake up one morning and decide he wanted a new location in Vietnam. There are currently over 3,000 locations in Asia alone. Starbucks in fact purchases a large quantity of Arabica coffee from Vietnam, thus building a location in Vietnam makes a lot of sense. If they can move closer to the supply, this could greatly reduce exporting costs. To be even more specific, Starbucks purposely located their café in the capital’s higher-end neighborhood, District 1. Here, those that live in the area can afford the expensive taste that Starbucks has. Starbucks essentially nailed it on the head when it comes to this aspect: they are now near raw materials, and they are near to their target customers.
Going global has given Starbucks a vast amount of knowledge on how to succeed. However, they also face some cultural issues as well. As I stated before, the type of coffee served at Starbucks in the U.S. is much different than what the Vietnamese are used to. They enjoy a more bitter and higher caffeinated drink, and in order for Starbucks to do well, they must adjust to the new scene and roll with it. They have also brought a roast-duck wrap and a French baguette to the menu to achieve this goal.
Overall, I believe Starbucks has done an amazing job going global, and if they review and understand the critical decisions of operations management, they will continue to strive to new levels.
Thoughts for discussion:
Will Starbucks succeed in their takeover of Vietnam? Why or why not?
What does this mean for local coffee shops?