Monday, September 22, 2003

News in clusterbombing

The intriguingly named Little Man, What Now? (which appears to be a new blog from a reader of mine - hi Dean) points to this great map showing the distribution and density of both Starbucks and McDonald's around the world. The McDonald's map is almost entirely predictable, and is a pretty accurate map of the wealth and population density of the world (with the major exception being that India has too few McDonald's restaurants either due to the Hindu prohibition on the eating of beef or the difficulty of doing business there).

However, the Starbucks map is less predictable. (It also has one error that I can see. Starbucks do have shops in New Zealand - in fact that was the first place I ever drank Starbucks coffee in 1999). There are two interesting issues. The first is their priority of expansion in Asia over expansions in other parts of the (non-US) world. It doesn't surprise me that they have expanded in Asia (and it really doesn't surprise me that they have a huge number of stores in Japan) as the young middle class consumer base that they target is undergoing a huge expansion there, but the relative lack of speed they have expanded in Europe does surprise me. (They are in the process of expanding from a niche operation to full speed ahead in Europe, however, and have just introduced their initial niche operation in Latin America). It may be that they did not have the capital to expand in both places at once, or it may be that demographic issues make Europe a less attractive target. (Europe has on average older consumers, who are less what Starbucks target, than does Asia. Europe also has smaller cities, which perhaps makes clusterbombing a less effective strategy). On the other hand, judging by the growth in the number of Starbucks clones, potential demand in Germany seems enormous. The same is true for the Nordic countries, I would think, plus parts of central Europe. As for Latin Europe, perhaps less so because the coffee that is there already is better than it was in the north.

The other thing that is perhaps peculiar about the Starbucks distribution is the relatively large number of stores in the Arab Middle East. There is far less wealth there than in Europe, but there are lots of stores. On the other hand, the demographics are better (from Starbucks' point of view - probably not for the best interests of the world in general). Or are they marketing to expatriates and tourists in Dubai? (However, they are not marketing to tourists in Oman and Saudi Arabia, clearly). I don't know.

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