The Starbucks experience in China is way different than in the US

This content is recommended for 30~60 minute sessions. Note that tutors may not be familiar with the content. Make sure you consult with your tutor before using this material. 


After a quick greeting, read the following article out loud. Your tutor will go over pronunciation if necessary.

[P1] Starbucks in China may be more futuristic than what most Americans expect.
“We were struck by how different the Chinese consumer experience is from the US,” Jefferies analyst Andy Barish wrote in a note to clients. “Almost all digital needs – social, chat, transport, e-commerce – are consolidated within just a few apps.”

[P2] In the United States, some still argue that “cash is king,” and parts of the country will have pockets of cash-only businesses. In China, cash is a relic of the past. Alipay and WeChat run the market, supporting purchases from street-food vendors to utility payments. As a result, Starbucks will be upping its game to court these highly digitized customers.

[P3] With 80% of Starbucks transactions in China being cash-free, the company now has an extra 30 labor hours a week to put towards customer engagement, Barish wrote. It is also pushing more interactive marketing in China with social gifting on WeChat and augmented reality features in stores. The My Starbucks Rewards program has also been a hit in the country with 7 million people paying to be a member and around 90% app usage, he wrote. The next step will be rolling out delivery and mobile order and pay according to Barish.

[P4] As emphasized over and over again in the company’s second-quarter earnings, dominating China will be key to the coffee chain’s long-term strategy. The US market is slowing a bit as evidenced by the 2% comparable sales growth in the last quarter compared to the 4% comparable sales in China. The opportunities will be significant as the country’s middle class continues to grow rapidly.

[P5]The coffee chain found success in the country by investing in its people and working hard to understand the culture, Barish wrote. Already, a new store opens every 15 hours. By fiscal year 2022, Starbucks intends to up its store count in China to 6,000 from its current 3,300.



Read the word/expression and definition out loud. Your tutor will go over anything you do not understand. Practice creating a sentence or two to make sure you know how to use the word/expression properly.

Vocabulary/ Expressions

Expression Definition
consolidate (v) to join or combine together into one thing
e.g. The two companies consolidated. [=merged]
relic (n) something that is from a past time, place, culture, etc. — often + of or from
e.g. relics of ancient China
(step) up someone’s game (v) To improve in some way, usually so that one can perform as well as others.
e.g. Phil lost another case? He really needs to step up his game if he wants to stay at this firm.
court (v) to give a lot of attention and praise to (someone) in order to get approval, support, etc.
e.g. The government is courting [=wooing] investors from around the globe.
roll out (v) to offer or sell (something) for the first time
e.g. The company is expected to roll out [=launch] several new products next year.

Discussion Questions

Use the following questions as a guideline to help develop an interesting conversation with your tutor. Feel free to diverge from these suggestions if anything interesting comes up.

  1. Summarize the article in your own words.
  2. What does the phrase ‘cash is king’ mean?
  3. How is the Starbuck experience in China different than in the US? Describe the details presented in the writing.
  4. How do you normally pay when you buy something in your country? Share your thoughts with your Cambly tutor!


Go over any new expressions or vocabulary that you learned today.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s