Starbucks faces backlash in China over police incident at store, Marketing & Advertising News, ET BrandEquity

Starbucks store in Beijing

Starbucks is in the throes of its second bout of public fury in China in less than three months, after an incident described by the US coffee giant as a ‘misunderstanding’ at one of its stores sparked criticism from netizens and state media.

The company came under scrutiny on Monday after a Weibo user said a number of police officers ate outside a Starbucks store in the southeastern city of Chongqing. west, before the staff told them to move away.

The user’s description of the incident quickly went viral on the Twitter-like platform, prompting the People’s Daily newspaper, mouthpiece of the ruling Communist Party, to post a comment, in which it called Starbucks a ” arrogant”.

Chinese consumers and media have become more aggressive in protecting customer rights and monitoring the behavior of big brands, especially overseas.

In December, Starbucks apologized and carried out inspections and trained staff at its roughly 5,400 stores in China after a state-backed newspaper said two of its outlets were using stale ingredients.

Starbucks apologized on its Weibo account on Monday evening for “inappropriate communications”, saying it was all a misunderstanding.

But he said staff never chased the officers away or tried to press charges against them.

It continued to face online criticism on Tuesday, with a few small businesses announcing on Douyin, China’s equivalent of TikTok, that they would ‘boycott’ Starbucks by banning employees from hosting meetings or buying drinks. in coffee chain stores.

However, Hu Xijin, a prolific commentator in China who is the former editor of the Global Times newspaper, urged his Weibo users to view the Starbucks Chongqing incident as an accident and no more, adding that Starbucks’ status as a foreign brand shouldn’t subject it to more criticism.

“China is a country open to the world,” he said. “Calling a mistake arrogant is not conducive to the larger environment of openness.”

In recent months, Chinese authorities have ordered its tech companies to crack down harder on online chatter or content relating to rumors or what could be considered vulgar…