I bring up this subject because of my experience with Starbucks more than twenty years ago.
Starbucks was ready to expand internationally. A board member came to me for advice about opening in Japan, the first country they had chosen.
Since Starbucks depends heavily on location, and location everywhere in the world, is deeply connected to the corruption of local government, I advised partnering with a local business to get good locations.
Starbucks wisely partnered with the Sazaby brothers, who came from a family with 200 years in the food industry. Since the Sazabys were in the process of expanding their tea cafe’s, Starbucks was able to get some of the best foot traffic locations in Japan.
The Sazaby Co. recently bought out Starbucks in Japan. The same thing happened earlier when 7-11 Japan bought out the Japanese chain and then bought the U.S. parent company, Southland.
I watched Peet’s coffee fail promptly in Japan; a few years after Starbucks. They hired a Chinese man as the regional manager, assuming he would later handle Korea and China efficiently. Wrong. The Chinese are not Japanese, in anyway. He got many things wrong in the marketing. Failure built in from cultural stereotypes.