Wednesday, April 16, 2003

Another Starbucks and globalisation thought

Virginia Postrel was kind enough to post the e-mail I sent her on the spread of Starbucks, and to link to this site. One thing I said in that e-mail was this.

I think there may be an element of this "all or nothing" aspect in why Starbucks are such a favourite object of hatred for anti-globalisation types. Visit a few of the most commonly visited international cities (Hong Kong, Tokyo, London, Bangkok) and from the evidence of these you will likely think there is a Starbucks on every street corner throughout the world, when in fact they only have outlets in maybe 20 countries, and only in the very biggest cities in most of those. In terms of global penetration, they are nowhere near being in the same ballpark as McDonald's, say.

Since writing this, I have also been struck by the thought that the socio-economic group of many anti-globalisation protestors (college educated, computer literate, middle class) and the target socio-economic group of Starbucks are actually very close to one other. Another reason why they would be likely to see a Starbucks on every street corner wherever they go is that Starbucks are targeting them, or at least people very like them. McDonald's and Coca-Cola are the sort of trademarks that people like this are likely to see as vaguely declasse and which consequently fade into the background. Starbucks on the other hand is aimed at them, and it therefore appears so much more in your face to them.

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