An old saying offers a recommendation for travelers: “You don’t bring sand to the beach.” The idea underlying the cliché is that bringing along a commodity for which a destination already is known makes no sense: It increases the weight of their baggage, and the local product probably is better in quality anyway.
Leave it to Starbucks to ignore the cliché though. The international coffee chain is opening its first stores in Colombia, the nation that leads the world in coffee exports. It is doing so with a careful plan, hoping to ensure that its “sand” appeals to consumers at the “beach.”
First, for this international expansion, Starbucks is partnering with a local Colombian company, Nutresa, to ensure that its opening aligns with local expectations. The first store will appear in an upscale shopping development, in an attempt to create an exclusive, high-end image.
Second, Starbucks in Colombia will only stock and sell Colombian coffee beans. Whereas in other countries, including neighboring Latin American nations, Starbucks bags and grinds blends and beans from various regions, it is seeking to establish a sort of home field advantage by guaranteeing Colombian consumers that they will be drinking their beloved home brew, even if they are visiting a foreign company’s storefront.
The reasons for this seemingly risky expansion are several. Starbucks clearly aims to be truly global and hopes to enter virtually every country, sooner or later. Colombia is particularly appealing, in that its booming economy has created a rapidly growing middle class. Its 47 million consumers accordingly are attracting increasing numbers of foreign investors and international entrants. And Starbucks evidently has no plans to be the one that gets sand kicked in its face in this race.
“Starbucks Opens First Store in Colombia, Land of Coffee,” Yahoo News, July 17, 2014, http://news.yahoo.com