News - November 6, 2013

Meanwhile in... China

In the news: The Starbucks in Beijing is asking 3.25 euros for a cup of coffee (a tall latte). That is more than in London and Chicago and almost twice as much as in Mumbai. CCTV, the Chinese state television, complained about this, which drew more than four million messages on Weibo (the Chinese Twitter).

Daniel Huang, a Plant Science student from China, comments on the news.

‘This is simply a marketing strategy that works really well in China. You make a brand incredibly expensive and this attracts rich customers. Places where rich people meet have a huge appeal to large sections of the population. Everyone wants to be part of that scene.
People like to show they’ve got money, and going around with a top brand adds to their prestige. Only a small proportion of the population has lots of money but that is still a sizeable market when the population is 1.4 billion.
My brother has a really good job but he spends perhaps three quarters of his pay on status symbols like a flash car and a smart suit. If he went to a meeting and didn’t have these things, no-one would talk to him. Then they’d think he didn’t have the right attitude for doing business. But that means he doesn’t enjoy his flash car because it is really a millstone around his neck.
I think this is a kind of psychological disorder in the Chinese system - it’s not right. You buy things that create an image of yourself. That is a real waste of energy and money because it doesn’t add anything to who you are or what you can do. That applies not just to coffee but also to clothes, cars and really anything you can show off to others.
In my opinion, you should spend your money on the necessities of life. If you can manage that, then you can think about luxury goods. But that’s not how it works in China.
I don’t get the impression the young people are any different either. But I’ve been living in the Netherlands for a couple of years now so I’m not certain about that.’