Attacking foreign-owned international chains has long been a favorite for China’s state-owned CCTV. Previously, the state media had attacked McDonald’s, claiming that their ice cubes contained more bacteria than toilet water. This time, their target is the global coffee chain Starbucks. Starbucks is often hated for destroying local coffee culture, yet in China, it has really fully taken off. Thus, CCTV’s report focused on the fact that getting a cup of coffee in Starbucks costs way more than in other countries.
On October 20, CCTV posted a series of posts tagged #Starbucks Coffee Pricing Investigation# on Weibo:
“[The price of a 354 ml Grande latte] At the Starbucks in Beijing, a cup of 354 ml latte coffee sells for 27 RMB; In London, a cup of 354 ml latte sells for 24.25 RMB; In Chicago, a cup of 354 ml latte sells for 19.98 RMB; In Bombay, a cup of 354 ml latte sells for 14.6 RMB. What do you make of it?”
“[The price of a ceramic mug] A ceramic Starbucks mug is priced at 100 yuan at a Starbucks in Beijing, but at a Starbucks in Chicago its price is less than 60 yuan. These mugs are labeled “Made in China”, yet why does a cup made in China costs so much more than one shipped across the sea to the U.S.?”
Other posts include “Starbucks stores can recover its cost in one to two months”, “China and the Pacific Asia region have the highest profits”, etc. However, CCTV has not been able to instigate anger among Chinese towards the chain. While some do agree that a cup of coffee costs a lot, most netizens on Weibo are angry towards CCTV and the state, retorting with sarcasm and criticism.
An account named 星巴克Starbucks retweeted CCTV:
“Customers can choose freely. Personally, I think CCTV should focus more on actual social problems related to people’s lives. If the state could control the prices of daily necessities, if the state could strictly manage medical fees, if corruption and bribery could occur less and less, if the air quality would improve, if we no longer needed to worry about food safety, if…. if there’s no if, CCTV can talk about Apple and Starbucks when it’s got too much time on its hands!”
The account claims to be unofficial, but this didn’t stop 11,000 netizens retweeted the post, most applauding it. Under the trending topic 星巴克咖啡价格调查, yet more netizens have chimed in, voicing complaints to CCTV while supporting Starbucks. Ironically, it was reported that the first Starbucks stores in Beijing and Shanghai had to shut down due to the unaffordable rents. In addition, coffee itself is in fact generally highly priced in China.
Graph by The Wall Street Journal
太阳之鸟: The oil price in China is more expensive than in Taiwan, the internet costs more than in Hong Kong… You don’t have the energy to focus on those, and instead you are making a fuss over a cup coffee that one doesn’t need to drink? Why? The only reason: Starbucks, have you not advertised on CCTV?
Assice_Chen: Not even to mention the rent, just talk about the same cars, same gasoline, same phones, same clothes, which isn’t more expensive in China?
我我我我我我我我一身猪腩肉: I can choose not to drink the 31 yuan Starbucks coffee. Vegetables cost 5 yuan per jin, beef costs 31 yuan per jin, am I supposed to say I can drink only water. For a cold or small injury, it easily costs 1,000 yuan, am I supposed to say as long as I don’t die I’ll avoid it? The rent is sky high, am I supposed to say I like sleeping on the street?
Image courtesy of Sohu.