Starbucks in China: The Place for China Expats?
One of the smaller reasons for the resounding success Starbucks has had in China is due to its creation of a space for China expats to meet, relax, even work. This space is unlike other coffee shops in China. In fact, being in a Starbucks in China makes one feel like they are hardly in China at all. To expats in China, Starbucks is even sometimes more than just the proverbial Third Place that kicked off this series on Starbucks in China.
How could Starbucks be more than just the ‘third place’ for some expats in China, and how does Starbucks do this? There are many factors at play, which include (but are not limited to):
- Starbucks in China is A Home Away from Home for Expats
- Wi-Fi in a China Starbucks = a Makeshift China Expat Office
Let’s explore these two issues in a little more detail:
Starbucks in China is A Home Away from Home for Expats
Walking into a Starbucks in China feels almost the same as walking into a Starbucks in the States (or anywhere else in the world for that matter). The service is excellent (as mentioned in an article about first rate service from Starbucks in China), the seating is almost plush, the music is soothing, and it is the exact opposite as much of the rest of China (loud, often dirty, just all things China, good and bad). Although other coffee shops can offer a similar sort of escape from the rest of China to the one Starbucks does, only Starbucks feels like home.
All China expats like to feel like they are not in China at one point or another, and Starbucks often provides that kind of escape.
Wi-Fi in a China Starbucks = a Makeshift China Expat Office
There is a small but growing group of expats in China that rely more on Starbucks than their office, and some who don’t have an office at all but instead use Starbucks and their home (read: apartment) for all work related things.
Realize that this is mostly restricted to exporters, and perhaps a small handful of tutors. With the widespread introduction of Wi-Fi into all Starbucks stores in China, Starbucks quickly made the jump from being a nice place to relax, get a decent cup of coffee, or have a few meetings to something more: it became a partial or full replacement of an office for a small but growing handful of expats in China.
It was not too long ago that there was an incredibly complicated process one had to go through in order to get online in a China Starbucks. Recently, however, at any point in time anywhere from 25 to 100% of the expats in many China Starbucks stores are using their Wi-Fi.
Now expats in China can do almost anything work related they need to from a Starbucks. Email, Skype, have meetings, take a nap, you name it. For a growing number of expats in Starbucks China locations, this has opened up the door of a makeshift office for the low low price of a coffee per day.