On October 8, China Business News, a publication owned by SMG, a media congomerate controlled by the Shanghai city government, published a report attacking Starbucks’ high prices in China. On October 20, China Central Television (CCTV) broadcast a story targeting the high prices of Starbucks coffee and mugs. The stories have been repeated in different versions in various media outlets.
The CCTV story uses man on the street interviews in Beijing, Chicago and Mumbai to emphasize the high prices of Starbucks China compared to other countries. The CCTV report says a cup of 354 milliliters of latte coffee costs 27 yuan (USD4.4) in China as compared to only 19.98 yuan in Chicago, 14.6 yuan in Mumbai and 24.25 yuan in London. Starbucks stainless steel cups, which are made in China, are sold at about 97 yuan to 122 yuan (USD 16-20) in the US, while in China they cost between 220 to 350 yuan (USD 36 to 58). Netizens, however, are laughing at CCTV’s report for its injustice and suggested CCTV to go after the de facto monopolies, as reported by other media outlets such as Tea Leaf Nation and South China Morning Post.
Danwei contacted branches in Chaoyang District, Chaoyang Park/Sanlitun area, one of the most popular destinations for shopping and relaxation in Beijing, of the chains Starbucks, Costa Coffee, Up Bridge Coffee (上岛咖啡) and Pacific Coffee Company to compare coffee prices. Starbucks prices actually compare favorably with other similar chain stores.
|Prices in yuan.|
|Up Bridge Coffee||36||32||32|
|Pacific Coffee Company||27/30/33||22/25/28||22|
- In each cell, the listed prices are in the order from the smallest size to the largest size offered.
- While the sizes offered in Starbucks and Pacific Coffee Company are 12oz, 16oz and 20oz, Costa Coffee offers 12oz, 14oz and 16oz; the only size offered at the Up Bridge Coffee is about 12oz.
- The cheapest coffee at Starbucks is the weekly special filter coffee; at Costa is an espresso. At Up Bridge and Pacific Coffee, the cheapest offering is an Americano.
- Up Bridge Coffee offers various flavored latte coffees, and the one listed above is their cheapest one.
Companies and brands affected
Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ:SBUX)
Links and sources
China Business News: 星巴克中国“暴利”：亚太区利润率为欧洲16倍
china.org.cn: CCTV: Chinese pay higher price for Starbucks coffee
Tea Leaf Nation: China’s Silly War on Starbucks Lattes
South China Morning Post: CCTV’s criticism of Starbucks ‘pricey coffee’ prompts online backlash