11/05/2015 16:42 GMT+7 Email Print Like 0

Starbucks in Vietnam

When talking about the initial success of Starbucks coffee company in the Vietnamese market, Patricia Marques, General Manager of Starbucks Vietnam said: “We start from small details to bring great success.”
Before working for Starbucks, Patricia Marques (a Peruvian woman living and working in the United States) was a business strategy manager for world’s leading food groups, such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Panera Bread.

Taking the job of directing the Starbucks Company in a new challenging market in Vietnam, Patricia Marques started from the smallest details. She made great efforts researching the psychology and coffee-drinking style of the Vietnamese people with the typical culture of each region to create coffee products suitable to the taste of the Vietnamese people.

It was not easy to keep the general criteria of the Starbucks brand, especially the “take away coffee” in a country with a coffee tradition like Vietnam. Meanwhile, Vietnamese people have the habit of drinking coffee in a quiet space to talk. From this small detail, Patricia Marques and her colleagues tried to make each Starbucks shop have a unique design in accordance with the culture and taste of the Vietnamese people.

A Starbucks coffee shop in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Le Minh/VNP

Patricia Marques, General Manager at Starbucks Vietnam. Photo: Le Minh/VNP

 Patricia Marques introduces Starbucks’ globally traded coffee at the coffee shop.
Photo: Le Minh/VNP

Inside a Starbucks coffee shop in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Le Minh/VNP

Patricia Marques directly talks with customers at a Starbucks coffee shop in Ho Chi Minh City.
Photo: Le Minh/VNP

Starbucks coffee is a well-known brand throughout the world and Starbucks is now the largest coffee company in the world with its assets on the stock market totaling 51.6 billion dollars and more than 20,000 retail shops in 65 countries.
Starbucks started operation in Vietnam with the opening of a coffee shop in Ho Chi Minh City, a dynamic city with a warm and sunny climate all year round in southern Vietnam where people also love coffee.

Here Starbucks met the customer’s taste with its delicious coffee flavor as well as the space to enjoy coffee. Gradually, the city residents have realised the novelty of this world-class beverage and liked to drink it. Now Starbucks has eight shops in Ho Chi Minh City.

Patricia Marques said that when she arrived in Ho Chi Minh City she was astonished at the changes of the city, because in the old days Saigon (former name of the city) was dubbed “The pearl of the Far East”. Yet 40 years after the south was liberated, the city was much more dynamic and modern. She said: “I like the industrial lifestyle and people here and I believe Starbucks will also be welcome and join in the flow of life of the city residents.”

Not stopping in Ho Chi Minh City, Starbucks continued its journey to conquer Hanoi’s market. This market was finicky and was not easy to please. Patricia Marques said that Hanoians were accustomed to their traditional way of drinking coffee and it was more difficult to change their habit. So Starbucks had to attract the customers to a friendly and open space. That was the criteria Starbucks tried to reach in this market.

From understanding the coffee drinking culture of  Hanoians, Starbucks established the coffee shops with a cozy atmosphere in the city. The shops were designed in a nostalgic style of Hanoians. Each Starbucks shop had specific features showing the dynamism and modernity of Hanoi and the long-standing coffee heritage of Vietnam. The furniture and decorations which were made by local artists and bought from local suppliers, were full of Hanoi’s culture.

Starbucks coffee is processed with a formula in accordance with the taste of the Vietnamese people. Starbucks hopes that the unique smooth espresso coffee with a strong flavour and a creamy taste will satisfy many Vietnamese customers.

Patricia Marques takes detailed notes of customers’ orders on every cup of coffee,
which shows her care and concern for Vietnamese customers’ demands. Photo: Le Minh/VNP

Young customers at a Starbucks coffee shop in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Le Minh/VNP

Part of a Starbucks coffee shop in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Le Minh/VNP

Starbucks coffee shops in Ho Chi Minh City are designed in line with
Vietnamese culture and customers’ taste.  Photo: Le Minh/VNP

Starbucks had to compete with many types of coffee in Vietnam, but Patricia Marques said each coffee had its own style. She confirmed that Vietnam with a population of over 90 million people is a large market and provides opportunities for many coffee brands to develop. Fifty percent of Vietnam’s population are young people, creating a market that Starbucks targets.

Having lived in Vietnam for five years, Patricia Marques respects and considers Vietnam as her homeland. She is trying to build a brand of Starbucks Vietnam with Vietnamese imprints and culture.

Story: Bich Van
Photos: Le Minh