Cultural Clash by Starbucks
As one moves around the world, one thing is notable, culture. Doing things is always different and has been so whether people do it consciously or unconsciously. In the current wake of globalization, scholars have done extensive research to understand how local culture behaves in the face of a foreign one. Businesses like Starbucks have overcome this hurdle in many countries as they set out to expand their coffee business.
Starbucks is one of the leading companies in the hospitality industry. As a business, it has been able to cross the borders of countries and bridges of culture to reach the unreached with their goods, which is coffee. The organizational culture of it is one that wants to connect with as many people as possible. It is written in their profiles of how they would want to be part and parcel of one’s daily routine (Hersh, G., 2016). They believe that offering high quality and variety coffee is the way to get there.
Interestingly, this has worked for them. As you travel around the world, from continent to continent, you will stumble upon one of their outlets. Such kind of presence speaks a lot about how, as a company, they have crossed many cultural barriers with, as they would say, one coffee at a time. However, there is a secret to such a great presence across the globe. It is this secret that needs to be sold to the other sectors in order to reduce the backlash that is experienced when something foreign is introduced subsequent in a foreign land.
Learning from McDonald’s also shows how culture clash can be solved and utilized to benefit the people involved. The company has been able to cross the borders and the rivers of cultures to take their services and goods to other people. However, this has not been without challenges. Establishing an outlet in the East was proving to be difficult. At first, McDonald’s in Japan kept the US menu for a while but later noticed that the local people were not satisfied with what they were getting. On that, the company had to rethink its strategy. So, they took the initiative to introduce some different locally preferred cuisines, like green tea, to bring many people on board. It added many more consumers to the company making it grow exponentially. This is the art of localizing foreign foods to the tastes of the local people.
Starbucks in China has thrived quite well. Being a foreign company in a foreign land must have been challenging at first is the main focus here. To the company, it meant that they had to find a way to sell themselves worthy to the consumers in China’s country despite being heavy consumers of tea (Hersh, G., 2016). At first, the two cultures were conflicting and breaking even; they had to find a way that would work for them. What Starbucks did and has done with many other countries is to ensure that the consumers see it as a fast drink that is needed to add more energy for a day in the office. They set up outlets near offices and made available this beverage packaged to attract the affluent around. Instead of packaging it just as a normal drink, it was introduced to the people as an affluent and high-class culture.
It made the people in China to differentiate between instant coffee and Starbucks coffee even though in the 1980s, most people there had not heard of it, let alone take it. Since the launch of Starbucks, coffee drinking is seen as a way of the well-polished in society, western-like and ‘cool.’ As stated earlier, coffee drinking has caught the attention of the rising upper-middle class. To ensure also that as many consumers adopt this culture as possible, they opened outlets near busy offices, malls, recreational facilities, and many other places that are accessible by the upper-middle class.
It should be noted that coffee was not non-existence before the introduction of Starbucks in the late 1990s. Coffee had been introduced to the local people in the 19th century by the missionaries. However, the notion among many before Starbucks was that coffee was preserved for a few. Not a variety was available in the market, so many people opted to stick to tea. Starbucks’ first outlet was introduced in Beijing in the year 1999 (Hersh, G., 2016). They were determined to change this notion, and so they got their hands dirty by all means. The introduction of a wide variety of coffee is the way they took. They did this by localizing the taste for the people to enjoy. This made more people see coffee as a good alternative to consider.
In France, Starbucks had to rethink the way of doing business with the people. Here, the notion was that the company offered an overpriced yet low-quality product. The introduction of Vienesse Coffee sparked interest among the locals. In Saudi Arabia, Starbucks faced a different challenge. There were complaints that the logo they had on their products was pornographic. Due to this culture clash, they had to change for them to win the hearts of the locals. Instead of a topless mermaid, the logo was changed to one with a wavy kind of a crown. Besides, it is the people’s culture for women and men to sit separately while in public. Due to this, the company separated the sitting areas for the two genders in order to accommodate everyone.
The culture clash in these parts of the world through Starbuck’s coffee is a clear indication of how globalization can be handled. It is amazing how the Western culture of taking coffee has been transferred to other parts of the world by a company that wants to increase its sales. To introduce a foreign culture to a conservative and proud people of what is theirs, there is a level of compromise that sets in and should be considered. One can learn from this coffee brewing company how to do it well. In their actions, such as localizing their products and services to suit what is known to them, they have been able to win many into buying what they sell.
Indeed, through media, the world is becoming a global village. As Marshall McLuhan expressed his idea in the year 1962, the sense of interconnectedness has largely affected how we think and see things (Lule, J, 2017). Taking the above illustrations into consideration, it is likely that the sharing of culture will increase greatly with time despite the challenges encountered every day of a cultural clash. One way to achieve this is to learn from most businesses that are going international. It may take time, but finally, this will be achieved; a functional global utopia.
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