Ms. Patricia Marques, CEO of Starbucks Coffee Vietnam, spoke with VET's Son Ho about the brand's localization strategy.
Two months after Starbucks Vietnam introduced its first products specifically tailored towards the Vietnam market, what have been the results of this localization strategy?
Our new Dolce Misto product was the result of an inspiring idea from Starbucks’ experts. It was created as a unique and delicious drink that would still have a familiar taste for Vietnamese customers.
When the idea was first proposed we were extremely excited and decided to go ahead with it. Dolce Misto was officially launched in March, marking an important milestone in our process of expanding our business in Vietnam.
The results have been really interesting, as our data shows that Dolce Misto has become a popular choice for many customers. They are people who believe in Starbucks but still want a familiar Vietnamese coffee taste. The extremely positive feedback from customers has delighted us.
How long did you research the localization strategy?
We have been conducting market research in Vietnam for years. Vietnam is not only one of the leading countries in producing coffee but also a major consumer of coffee. Coffee shops are everywhere, in the cities and in the countryside.
We understand that competition is harsh in such a market. However, as one the leading coffee brands in the world we feel that we have an opportunity in Vietnam and are still putting a great deal of effort into seizing that opportunity.
“Product localization” is a major concern for us but we also have other plans besides creating suitable products for Vietnamese people. At our outlets are not only coffee but also many types of pastries made locally.
What are the concerns over the localization strategy?
As I mentioned, expanding the market segment is a concern for the business system. Starbucks Vietnam has made a great effort to expand the market size and compete with other brands. In this competition the quality of products and services is the decisive factor. Customers will choose brands and products that they believe are suitable for them.
In Vietnam we are still at the beginning stage of development. While receiving support from loyal customers we are also pleased to see that the number of new customers is increasing, and that is a positive sign.
Every market has its own characteristics and the development of Starbucks in each market is different. In Vietnam, however, we understand that the potential and the opportunities are huge after two years in the country. I can feel it just by seeing customers of different ages coming to Starbucks every day.
Will Starbucks open more coffee shops in Vietnam this year?
We arrived in Vietnam in February 2013 after a long period of serious and careful preparation. After the first outlet opened in Ho Chi Minh City were able to achieve positive results even though the competition in the market was fierce.
Starbucks has now opened nine outlets in Ho Chi Minh City and four in Hanoi, with a total of 220 employees. In the near future we will focus on opening new outlets in the two cities.
Vietnam is one of the most dynamic and interesting markets in the world and we are grateful for the love our customers have had towards the brand since we started here. We are now looking for suitable new locations to expand our outlet network.