When Tea Leaf Meets Coffee Bean


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When Tea Leaf Meets Coffee Bean Starbucks in China and the Circuit of Culture
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1 online resource (96 p.)
Zhang, Xiaochen
University of Florida
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Gainesville, Fla.
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Master's ( M.A.M.C.)
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University of Florida
Degree Disciplines:
Mass Communication, Journalism and Communications
Committee Chair:
Duke, Lisa L
Committee Members:
Leslie, Michael
Molleda, Juan Carlos


Subjects / Keywords:
china -- circuit -- coffee -- culture -- of -- starbucks
Journalism and Communications -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
Mass Communication thesis, M.A.M.C.
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation


Under the circuit of culture framework, this qualitative study provides an understanding of the formation of coffee culture in China from Chinese consumers' perspective. The circuit of culture, including production, consumption, identity, representation and regulation, is a circuit of five interrelated moments that may influence the formation of culture generated by transnational corporations in a foreign country. Specifically, the study examined how Chinese coffee consumers perceive coffee culture as opposed to tea culture, as well as what Starbucks brandscape is according to Chinese consumers and how it could fit into the circuit of culture framework. In total, four focus groups and 13 in-depth interviews, including 33 participants, were conducted. Altogether seven themes emerged from the data. Results show that Chinese consumers generally associate coffee culture, Starbucks coffee culture in particular, with cosmopolitan, socialization, novelty, fast-paced lifestyle, a sign to dived age, class and profession, as well as the petty bourgeois lifestyle. The themes fit well into the circuit of culture framework, which shows that the cultural nuances involving how consumers perceive their own identity as a Starbucks consumer and how they interpret the representation of the brand have a great impact on how they would consume the product and the culture formation process. Implications and limitations of this study, as well as recommendations for future research are discussed.
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by Xiaochen Zhang.
Thesis (M.A.M.C.)--University of Florida, 2012.
Adviser: Duke, Lisa L.
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2 2012 Xiaochen Zhang


3 To my mo m and dad, for their unwavering encouragement and support


4 ACKNOWLEDG MENTS At the end of any project like this, the list of names that have assisted or guided or opined (helpfully) is frequently longer t han the paper itself! That said, there are a few e doubt that this paper would never have come together at all. I would like to thank my c hair, Dr. Lisa Duke Cornell my committee members, Dr. Juan Carlos Molleda and Dr. Michael Leslie, and Professor John Kaplan, for their time and effort in this thesis research encouraged my own interest in the area. I am also grateful for her amazing guidance and patience, wit hout which none of this would have been possible. I would like to thank Dr. Juan C arlos Molleda for his thought provoking feedback and assistance, which helped me navigate the treacherous waters of theory tremendously. I would also l ike to thank Dr. Michael Leslie, who provided me valuable mentor and I would further like to thank Professor John Kaplan for his incredible kindness and flexibility in assisting with my defense and in guiding my final revisions. I would also like to thank Jody Hedge for her patience and kindness in offering assistance and an swering my countless question I thank Jonathan Borden, who has always been patient and available and has offered help in the writing and revision process I would further like to thank all of my friends, home and abroad, for their encouragement and support during the process. Last but not least, I am grateful to my parents, who have been so patient and supportive of my graduate study.


5 TABLE OF CONTENTS p age ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 4 ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ ..................... 7 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 9 2 LITERATURE REVIEW ................................ ................................ .......................... 13 Theoretical Framework ................................ ................................ ........................... 13 The Circuit of Culture ................................ ................................ ....................... 13 The Production of Culture ................................ ................................ ................. 16 The Consumption of Culture ................................ ................................ ............. 17 Global Media and the Circuit of Culture ................................ ................................ .. 18 Brandscape and Glocalization ................................ ................................ ................ 20 A Re interpretation of Cultural Imperialism ................................ ............................. 24 On Coffee Culture ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 25 Coffee Culture in the U.S. ................................ ................................ ................. 26 Coffee and Media ................................ ................................ ............................. 27 Coffee Culture in Asia ................................ ................................ ...................... 28 Starbucks in China ................................ ................................ .......................... 31 Research Questions ................................ ................................ ............................... 33 3 METHOD ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 35 Focus Group and In depth Interview ................................ ................................ ....... 35 Participants ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 38 Data Analysis ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 40 4 FINDINGS AND ANALYSIS ................................ ................................ .................... 42 G eneral Impression and Attitudes towards Coffee Culture ................................ ..... 42 Types of Starbucks Consumers ................................ ................................ ............ 43 Themes ................................ ................................ ................................ ................... 46 Theme 1: The Waters hed ................................ ................................ ................. 46 ................................ ................................ ....................... 48 Theme 3 Socialization ................................ ................................ ...................... 50 Theme 4: Novelty ................................ ................................ ............................. 53 Theme 5: Cosmopolitanism ................................ ................................ .............. 54 Theme 6: Rhythm of life ................................ ................................ ................... 57 Theme 7: Xiaozi ................................ ................................ ............................... 59 5 DISCUSSIONS, IMPLICATIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS ............................. 62


6 Summary of Findings ................................ ................................ .............................. 62 Implications ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 70 Limitations and Recommendations for Future Research ................................ ........ 74 Conclusion ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 76 APPENDIX A FOCUS GROUP iNFORMED CONSENT ................................ ............................... 78 B IN DEPTH INTERVIEW INFORMED CONSENT ................................ ................... 80 C INTERVIEW GUIDE: FOCUS GROUP (ENGLISH) ................................ ................ 82 D INTERVIEW GUIDE: IN DEPTH INTERVIEW (ENGLISH) ................................ ..... 83 E INTERVIEW GUIDE: FOCUS GROUP (CHINESE) ................................ ................ 85 F INTERVIEW GUIDE : IN DEPTH INTERVIEW (CHINESE) ................................ ..... 86 LIST OF REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ............................... 88 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ ............................ 96


7 Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts in Mass Communication WHEN TEA LEAF MEETS COFFEE BEAN: STARBUCKS IN CHINA AND THE CIRCUIT OF CULTURE By Xiaochen Zhang May 2012 Chair: Lisa Duke Cornell Major: Mass Communication Under the circuit of culture framework, this qualitative study provides an understanding of the formation of coffee culture in perspective. The circuit of culture, including production, consumption, identity, representation and regulation, is a circ uit of five interrelated moment s that may influence the formation of culture generated by transnational corporations in a foreign country. Specifically, the study examined how Chinese coffee consumers perceive coffee culture as opposed to tea culture, as well as what Starbucks brandscape is according to Chinese consumers and how it could fit into the circui t of culture framework. In total four focus groups and 13 in depth in terviews, including 33 participants, wer e conducted. Altogether seven themes emerged from the data. Results show that Chinese consumers generally associate coffee culture, Starbucks co ffee culture in particular, with cosmopolitan, socialization, novelty, fast pace d lifestyle, a sign to dived age, class and profession, as well as the p etty bourgeois lifestyle. The themes fit well into the circuit of culture framework, which shows that th e cultural nuances involving how consumers perceive their own identity as a Starbucks consumer and how they


8 interpret the representation of the brand have a great impact on how they would consume the product and the culture formation process. Implications and limitations of this study, as well as recommen dations for future research are discussed.


9 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION The past decade has seen a significant growth of popularity of coffee in China. Both the production and the consumption of coffee in Chi na have been increasing. Despite high taxes, domestic and international companies are planning major expansions to Zheng & Pardomuan 2011). In the case of Starbucks the nu mbers are astonishing. Since it opened its first coffee shop in Beijing in 1999, nearly 500 Starbucks coffee shops sprung up in the street corners on the China mainland over the past decade. China is seen as the next key market after the United States as 1971, the coffee chain has expanded exponentially in the past decades. As of July 3, 2011, the corporation is operating in 56 countries worldwide and has opened 17,018 sto Company Profile 2011). Among many of the early coffee brands entering the Chinese market, Starbucks opened its first store in Taiwan in 1998 then in Mainland China in Beijing in 1999 and has since then set up nearly 500 stores in China. Starbucks ( China Backgrounder 2011). Starbucks the ubiquitous coffee chain store worldwide, can be an excellent case in point in terms of the creation of their own brand concept as well as the local coffee consumers, Starbucks is selling not only cof fee, but also a corporate culture (Moore,


10 2006). Starbucks coffee culture has influenced more than just consumers in the U.S., it also appeals to Chinese consumers who were used to only tea drinking. However, it would be hard to predict how Chinese consume rs interpret the cultural images Starbucks create s As the company states in its Chinese website, Starbucks accepted by a variety of the Chinese customers including, but not limited to, a rising upper ( China Backgrounder 2011). It i s the first time that coffee culture in China comparison to the traditio nal Chinese tea culture. Although the coffee plantation has a relatively long history in China (in Southeast Yunnan Province), it has never had the same status as tea. Jesuits first introduced coffee into China in the late 1800s. However, this significant move did not take coffee drinking into the mainstream in this ancient country. It was not until the 1980s than the government started mass production of coffee in the same area (Arnold, 2008). Still, Chinese coffee, particularly the one kind in the Yunnan Province, did not open the Chinese market for coffee consumption, nor without any cultural substance. A new Chinese coffee culture has been created with the infiltrat ion of Western culture. Chinese consumers started to differentiate between instant co ffee of Nestle and Maxwell and from Starbucks Earlier images associated with coffee were created through advertisements, featuring hard working professionals taking their coffee break on the job Starbucks fee image


11 another connotation, placing them into various media products as well as the stylish coffee shops in the most modern and busy sections of the major cities. The c ommercialization of media content has made the coffee culture even more widespread in China The outcome is therefore a new cultural phenomenon, having its special place in contemporary Chinese society. It is, as a result, also noteworthy to examine how Ch inese perceive the new coffee culture and their own identities as coffee consumers how they balance their new identitie s with the old ones and what influences their perception. Coffee Culture and the Circuit of Culture The study of culture, media and i dentity has been the focus of the Birmingham School. The Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies was established at the Birmingham University in the U.K. in the 1960s. Although the school ceased to exist now, it had been a very influential institute in sp reading British Cultural Studies worldwide (Barker, 2000) Led by cultural theorist Stuart Hall, the school inc orporates concept s from Marxism, post structuralism as well as critical cultural and postmodern perspectives to study the reciprocity of cultural contexts, media, mass produced products and consumers. It emphasizes an interdisciplinary approach, including both sociology and ethnography. Dynamic and flexible cultural theories such as encoding/decoding and circuit of culture developed by Birming ham School scholars were best suited for analyz ing cultural phenomena in a complex and global context. The circuit of culture theory attempts to explain the phenomena from the aspects of production, consumption, identity, representation and regulation. It will be further analyzed in the literature review chapter. Therefore, this paper employed the circuit of culture theory in analyzing the


12 formation of coffee culture in contemporary China in the case of Starbucks and its reciprocal relationships with mass med ia, representation, identity as well as the larger social and global contexts. Focus groups and in depth interviews were used as primary method exploring Starbucks coffee culture The resear ch is significant because, first of all, it is the first study to analyze coffee culture as a cultural phenomenon and relate it with identity and cultural studies in a developing country. The dynamics of mass media and globalization have altered the way ne w cultures and identities are formed. The case of Starbucks is also significant since Starbucks is now trying to make an even bigger impact among Chinese consumers (Andreiczak, 2011). With the interpretation of this new phenomenon, the study also contr ibut es to the development of theo ry as well as various related sensitizing concepts. More specifically, this study seeks to provide insights into the application of and further exten sion of the circuit of culture. It also seeks to offer evidence to support a r evision of concepts such as consumer brandscape in a new environment.


13 CHAPTER 2 LITERATURE REVIEW Theoretical Framework The Circuit of Culture Studies conducted under the discipline of Birmingham School traditionally focuses on the interplay among conce pts of culture, ideology and identity. Stuart Hall argued that cultures were practices with interpretive meanings that penetrate all societies. He also contended that audiences of ideological ly coded mass media content have the ability to decode cultural m essages and interpret the embedded meanings. The audience identities are therefore shaped by the mass media, or the hegemonic forces (Hall, 1997). However, the critiques maintained that his analysis of culture over concentrated on ideology which ignores o ther decisive factors such as mass media and corporate ownership (Stevenson, 1995 ). Following the Birmingham School traditio n, du Gay and Pryke (2000) proposed the concept of cultural economy, which stated that culture was holding an increasingly important position in economic or business lives in contemporar y society. Incorporating concept s in the economic aspect such as regulation, consumption and production into the circuit as well as other cultural intermediaries, the concept of cultural representations and identities can be better analyzed (du Gay 1997). Emerging initially as a theory for cultural studies, the circuit of culture has also been employed in numerous other fields in communication studies. The theory is especially useful in complex global contexts where diffe rent cultures interact. Curtin and Gaither (2005) have suggested a public relations theory based on the circuit of culture in order for international public relat ion practices to better reflect the global and cultural dynamics.


14 The fiv e essential moment s in producing culture, identity, representation, regulation, consumption and production, intermingled with each other continually in a complex circuit (du Gay et al., 1997 ). Regulation denotes the institutional controls under which cultu ral practices and productions take place. It can affect cultural formation in different levels, varying from organizational to local and to global. Influenced by economic factors and power structures, regulation is also constantly changing, subjecting to d ifferent circumstances (Thompson, 1997). On a local level, it not only encompasses controls over laws, policies and rules, but also defines the cultural norms, what is right or wrong, ethical or unethical within a cultural context (Curtin & Gaither, 2005). market is largely restricted to the local regulations. By distinguishin g regulation as a single moment in the circuit, the model recognized the local interventions in both the cultural production and the consumption process. 1997, pp. 14). It is the meanings g enerated in or given in the process of cultural and purposefully constructed within a social context or unconsciously formed in minds of the social members. The consta ntly changing cultural codes and social interactions in a society influences how a representation is interpreted. The representation of, or the symbolic meanings attached to a cultural practice such as coffee consumption, affects how people consume as well as how their identity is formed. Production and consumpt ion are two unrepeatable moment s in the circuit of


15 culture. Production examines the process in which representations are formed and by which social identities are constructed. In contrast to produ ction, consumption encompasses the practice of consuming, or deconstruc ting the created meanings. It constitute s as Curtin & Gaither (2005) argued, a role as important as production when it comes to cultural meaning construction Consumption, to a certain extent, reflects how the consumers negotiate the symbolic meanings of the representation as well as their cultural identities. Identity, the final moment in the circuit and the most complicated and dynamic one, cted meanings and practices, such as class, The moments are fragmented and are in a state of constant flux. Therefore identity must be analyzed with the considerati on of all the other f our moment s. It is through the meanings produced by representational systems that people can make sense of their own experiences and their identities. Stuart Hall defined two positions from which to examine the term cultural identity. The first position interprets cultural identity as shared by people from one collective culture, one history or ancestry. While the first position recognizes cultural identity as a singular entity over time and emphasizes the similarities among the cultural group, the second position also observes the differences and views cultural identity as entities that are constantly changing under the interplay of time, culture and power. Questions of identity have become more prevalent with the phenomenon of globalization. Scholars des


16 consumption patterns in a certain society changes, thereby producing new shared identi ties among a cultural group. While globalization tends to promote cultural homogeneity, it may also lead to resistance from local cultures (Hall, 1997). Social identities for consumers are about both personal and social and about both similarities and differences. Identities are subjective concepts individual s have of them selves and will constantly compare it with others within the same society. Among the multiple identities a person hold, according to Dittmar (2008), material and bodily identities are the two important domains Consumers are constantly pursuing the desired lifestyle and the perfect body portrayed in the advertisements and altering their own identities accordingly. In the following literature revie w, a detailed examination of two of t he five moment s in the circuit of culture, the production of culture and the consumption of culture is provided. The Production of Culture The production of culture is one of the five interrelated moment s in the theory of circuit of culture. In Producti on of Culture/ Cultures of Production du Gay (1997) 69). It is usually through large global corporations, according to du Gay (1997), that consumer culture is produced. For example, the process of this mass production of American Walt Disney culture is systemati cally structured and distributed around the world, from mass media in form of motion pictures and television programs to an entire


17 industry including theme parks and other consumer products. This global strategy has successfully brought American popular cu lture everywhere, in spite of differences in cultural tastes However, despite the integrated production line, culture is formed at least in the interaction among its subjects, the people who consume culture. People actively construct their cultural world by creatin g and interpreting their daily experiences. The production of culture is, therefore, based on these consumption activities du Gay (1997) also argued that the meanings were understood by both production and practices and that the particular cult ural phenomena should be placed in the broader and more sophisticated social contexts. The Consumption of Culture The consumption of culture is another moment in the circuit of culture model that perspectives. It encompasses (Arnold & Thompson, 2005, pp. 868). Examining the role of symbolic, experiential, a nd socio cultura l dimensions of consumption has been the focus of many studies in the social science discipline. Similarly, many scholars would study the connections between specific consumer culture s and the larger socio economic structures (Dittmar, 2008 b ) With focus groups and in depth interviews as primary means to examine consumer culture, the symbolic, experiential and socio cultural meanings of a certain product can be understood and analyzed. I n some industries, marketplace ideologies convey messag es to the consumers, telling them how to live their lives and to construct their identities through symbols and representations in consumer culture (Dittmar, 2008 b ) In


18 order to live up to the ideal image or perfect lifestyle portrait by the consumer cultu re, consumers will aspire to the kind of cultivated lifestyle, influencing their own identity and lifestyle. Furthermore, t he globalization process, accelerated by mass media, makes this element more prominent since the imported consumer culture not only e nters, but also interacts with t he local culture. perspective is deemed crucial in understanding the dynamics of the formation of a culture. The circuit of culture provides a useful framework to examine the local cultural formation as a result of globalization and multinational corporations. In a single circuit, it accurately depicts the ongoing movements of the five discrete but interactive moments. Taking in perspectives from both the production and the consumpt ion sides the framework allows a panoramic view of the moments that affect the interactions between the local and the global Therefore, it provides a well rounded theoretical framework for analyzing how Chinese coffee culture is formed in a global contex t and how Chinese perceive the cultural practice. The coffee culture in Ch ina also provides an insightful case since the culture is produced with in an existing traditional tea culture. Additionally, by applying the circuit of culture to analyze the coffee culture in China, this study also contributes to the circuit of culture model by discussing related concepts su ch as brandscape, glocalization and cultural imperialism in a global setting. Global Media and the Circuit of Culture Mass media, particular ly in the form of advertising and marketing, has played a key role in connecting production and consumption, or the circulation of culture. Indeed, advertisements do more than just inform consumers of production information. Rather, they also convey cultural messages that teach consumers to define themselves with


19 particular cultural roles and values (Frith, 1997). The consumption decisions are made mostly based on these cultural values and meanings attached to the products The cultural representations in adve rtisements has a direct impact on the creation of cultural meanings and economy: Consumer culture through advertising, the media and techniques of display of goods, is able to destabilize the original notion of use or meaning of goods and attach to them n ew images and signs which can summon up a whole range of associated feelings and desires...Hence within consumer culture the tendency is to push culture to wards the centre of social life (McFall, 2002, p. 151). Media regulation, be it in the country impor ting culture or in the country exporting culture has been playing an indispensable role in the circuit of culture. Global media media. A number of original Western prog rams were made directly available to Chinese audiences, others purchased by local Chinese media and broadcasted nationwide (Chan, 2005; Su, 2011). Other sou rces of global media such as illegal but prevalent pirated media products also made it easy for Chin ese consumers to access global media content (Miyazaki, Rodriguez & Langenderfer, 2009). The ex posure to Western media content according to Paek and Pan (2004), has resulted in the formation of new consumerist values among Chinese urban audiences. The con sumerist values based on cultural distinction and social status, innovative and quality consumption, are proportional to the amount of exposure to Western media c ontent The mass media, therefore, are a channel for the dissemination of global consumer cult ure Specifically, a number of studies have recognized the mass media or the 2007b) studies suggested the important roles that upfront presentations played in


20 shapi ng the promotional cultures in the production of culture circuit. She argued for an organizational or industrial perspective to view the process of cultural production in order to better balance between cultural practices and the inherent power. Adding to her conclusion of emphasizing the deciding power in hands of the media controllers, other studies have extended the cultural formation into a global context (Havens, 2002, 2003). From a production perspective, Peterson and Anand (2004) also acknowledged th e systems that created and shaped the cultural component s. They maintained that the authenticities in real life are in fact intentionally fabricated by the dominated. The traditions, or the collective memories that th e people of a nation shared are merely cultivated symbolic cultures. Brandscape and Glocalization The coffee culture phenomena can be better fit into a larger global picture where global iconic brands extend their services to oversea markets. Inevitably, the formation of the unique coffee cult ure was accompanied by the entrance of coffee brands in the Asian and Chinese markets. From the co rporate perspective, brand concept (1955) maintained that it is essential fo r a brand to select a meaning and build up its reputation before entering the target market. A normative framework of strategic brand concept management was proposed by Park, Jaworski and Maclnnis (1986) to manage oducing, elaborating and fortifying a brand 135). The act of selecting a concept and maintaining it throughout the life of a product is a conscious and intentional process. To introduce a brand with symbolic concepts into a new market requires membership or self


21 distinct features, interests and believes within the larger culture. By giving the product a premium price, limit ing its distributing outlets and devising a special language that are known only to the subgroup or targeted consumers, a brand creates a unique subculture assoc iated with the brand concept (Park, Jaworski & Maclnnis, 1986). Other tactic s also include crea ting a concept such as the tendency to mirror those with higher social status and pursuing higher social aspirations (Gardner & Levy, 1955). Constructing a brand reputation may produce favorable results that go beyond just and feeling s associated with the brand and what consumers think is closely related to the brand (Gardner & Levy, 1955 active constructions of personal meanings and lifestyle orientations from the symbolic linked together and structured by discursive, symbolic, and competitive relationships to a dominant (market identities by functioning as a cultural model that consumers act, think, and fee (Thompson and Arsel, 2004, p. 632). The brandscape and the creation of brand reputation would have significant impacts on the local coffee culture. As an important step in the process of cultural branding, cultural knowledge, including identifyi ng cultural contradictions and developing corresponding projections and interpretations is essential to the creation of cultural associations of a certain brand (Holt, 2003). Vice versa, the


22 trumental to the formation of a new coffee culture in foreign lands. Thompson and Arsel (2004) studied Starbucks consumers responded to their experiences of globalization. Employing phenomenological interviewing as well as parti cipant observation methods in local Starbucks stores in metropolitan cities and small towns respectively, data of the stores were collected. The created res haped the ideal coffee shop image (Thompson & Arsel, 2004 ). Starbucks of gloclaization also stirred emotions of anticorporate consumers, to whom the coffee itical alternatives to corporate Servicescape, a related concept, is broadly defined as the physical environment built for t he purpose of creating certain consumer behavior (Venkatraman & Nelson, 2008). The design of a servicescape involves three factors, namely, the aesthetic (e.g., color and style), functional (e.g., layout and furnishings) and social factors (e.g. interactio ns among consumers and service providers). Consumers, as an important component of this constructed service space, are viewed as active contributors to the servicescape of a brand (Aubert Gamet, 1997). When consumers construct the servicescape relating th eir own life stories with relevant cultural rituals and representations in a negotiating way (Ven katraman & Nelson, 2008 ), they are converting it into a consumptionscape. The concept of servicescape is especially


23 of their core strategies. Following previous studies on brandscape and servicescape, Venkatraman and Nelson (2008) elaborated the concept of servicescape in a more detailed and contextual fashion, situating it in contemporary China. They conducted a study using photo elicitation and in depth interviews with young urban Chinese Starbucks consumers. While the researchers found that places could shape local servicescape, consumers were active interpreters and would consciously fit the meanings of global brands into their own cultural context. Results from the interviews suggested that the Starbucks of Starbucks parallels the tension between the excitement of con structing new identities as modern, Western looking professionals and the traditional pull of inextricable link between brandscapes and consumer identities. Under dif ferent contextual situations and cultural environments, consumers may associate certain brands with specific cultural meanings and use them as means to assert their own identities (Dong & Tian, 2009). Apart from the perfect integrations of Starbucks gloca lization strategies, there are also disharmonious conflicts. Based on the circuit of culture model, Han and Zhang (2009) analyzed an Internet based public relations campaign by netizens in China against Starbucks The complexities concerning interpreted from both the cultural perspective and the public relations perspective. Differing from what Thompson and Arsel (2004) called the hegemonic brandscape in local culture and their analysis of the two anti Starbucks discourse, Han and Zhang


24 In order to survive in a culture quite distinct from its own, global brands needs to add local elements and b lend them in. The culture that is hence created can be quite different than the original one. A Re interpretation of Cultural Imperialism Despite evidence cultural formation, the literature su ggests a re interpretation of cultural imperialism (Straubhaar, 1991; Chadha & Kavoori, 2000; Jin, 2007; Su, 2011). Widely accepted during the 1960s and 1970s, the concept of cultural imperialism has been criticized by numerous scholars since the 1980s. Th ey argued that the global media effects might not necessarily result in a Western cultural dominance or imperialism because of governmental regulations, audience choice and interpretations While some ideology changes may occur with the exposure to a globa l culture, the local people are merely taking what t hey need from the media content and are making sense of their own national identities (Su, 2011) of cultural exchange and production within the international communication field. Instead of completely discarding cultural imperialism, Kraidy (2005) still recognized it as industrialized West and th suggested that the concept of hybridity addresses and explains issues such as context and representation within the field of intercultural and internationa l communication.


25 Numerous studies have been conducted in this respect arguing for a re interpretation, examining the culture and identity formations as a result of the global media flow. In a series of studies, Biltereyst (1 991, 1992, 1995) suggested tha t the should be revisited in international reception studies. Against the backdrop of debates on the issue, he argued not only for a consideration of the complexities and differences of the studies, bu t also for a multi method approach. Furthermore, Sengupta & Frith (1997) looked into the India. In light of the Western cultural imperialism, they found that people the deg ree of importance people attached to both Indian and Western cultural values varied. In other words, the cultural complexities in India can no longer be explained by a single term cultural imperialism. In a similar study, Jory (1999) examined the Thai iden tities formed on the basis of Thai themed advertisements. He argued that the new orders and systems brought forth by globalization have potentially altered the way Thai identities are formed, from an emphasis on national security to a commercial strategy t hrough the advertising industry. However, he recognized that other factors other th an Westernization must have also contributed to the identity formation On Coffee Culture Coffee, as with many other global products, applies to the theory. The popularity of coffee is not only a unique phenomenon in China, but also worldwide. Even with the economic recess ion the amount of coffee consumed worldwide has only soared rather than dropped in the past years (Tucker, 2011). Tucker (2011) attributed its global pop ularity to the social and cultural dimensions coffee encompasses: The symbolic meanings that allow people to express their identities, social status and cultural values.


26 It can be easily incorporated into local contexts. Tucker (2011) defined coffee cultur e as The symbolic meaning of food, coffee included, is multifold. Besides its function in socializing, gathering people together to form a sense of community, it also helps obtaining and balancing power relationships among social groups (Fedorak, 2009) The meaning of food never stays the same. It changes consistently over time. The success drinking Asian c ountries), owes l argely to how the coffee product is associated with various l ocal social values and meanings shared by people with different social status (Tuc ker, 2011 ). As Bourdieu (1984) pointed out decades ago, class differences and the taste of the p rivileged were making process. Tucker (2011) compared four major coffee production national identification with coffee. The associations and symbolic meanings of coffee identity is an ongoing process, which typically entails a variety of components (e.g., meaningful symbols, ideas, values, attributes) that can encompass multiple meanings 2011, p. 58). Coffee Culture in the U.S. Coffee has been associated with a number of nouns as heritages of historical moments. It is not only a representation of p ower, conquest, debate, fight and struggle, but also connotes alliance and supports from families and friends. Even though the practice of coffee drinking has widely accepted global understandings, it also takes on specific cultural connotations when exami ned with local experiences. (Tucker, 2011).


27 F or the most part of the world tea is still the main beverage; the largest coffee consumer, taking up 20 percent of the total coffee consumption worldwide. Research shows that 82 percent of t he U.S. adults consume coffee and the average consumption rate is about three cups per day (Tucker, 2011). The unique coffee culture in the U.S. can be traced back to the 17th century and was gradually incorporated as part of American life. Since its intro duction to the North American land, coffee has transformed from a n elite beverage representative of national identity during the Revolutionary War to an everyday household necessity nowadays. Coffee is, as Tucker (2011) pointed out, omnipresent in American prepared beverage at home in the morning, easily available in offices and an indispensable part in social settings such as public gatherings, church events, meetings, businesses, etc. Coffee and Media T he expansion of coffee culture worldwide is the result of a number of factors The globalization of consumer culture, mass media, as well as introduction of chained coffee brands all contributed to its expansion and popularity. P revalent coffee images in media also co nstitute an influential factor in it expansion The mass media, be it television shows, mov ies, news or advertisements, have played an essential role in spreading coffee cu lture and have contributed to its popularity worldwide (Fry, 2000; Zhang, 2011). Cof fee companies worldwide have been using mass media for the Through a limited numbe r of Starbucks television commercials and print advertisements, the company has been


28 building on promotion of its br and concept using product placements and store decorations (Zhang, 2011). However, there has been a disconnection between media representations and what coffee really is According to Tucker (2011), the media representation of coffee has always been in co ntrast with the reality of coffee origins. For media representations in Western countries, the indigenous and exotic sceneries of foreign coffee plantations shown in commercials and advertisements are in sharp contrast with that of the reality (Fry, 2000; Tucker, 2011). In a research to develop sensory attribute pools of brewed coffee in South Korea, Seo, Lee and Hwang (2009) chose mass media, advertisements and previous literatures as one of their three sources for the collection of descriptors for coffee sensory attributes. A wide range of descriptors associate with brewed coffee unveiled after the experiment, showing that a number of factors might influence Coffee Culture in Asia In Asian countries where tea culture has been dominated for thousands of years, coffee culture is still a relatively new phenomenon. Both tea drinking and coffee drinking are cultural practices associated with deep cultural connotations. Besides intangible cultural traditions such as tea ceremonies, the tradition of tea drinking practices has shaped Asian cultures tremendously. The importance of tea in Chines beyond doubt since tea is viewed as one of the seven daily necessities (Du, 2010) The cultural meanings imbedded in tea drinking are manifold. Not only does it signify the ] aggressive, pleasant [and] low 2011). Tea was once the b everage for the rich and privileged yet has now become the most common beverage for the


29 ordinary. As compared with tea culture, coffee culture draws a completely different (Kramer, 1994, pp.59), coffee culture, Starbucks in particular, is associated with individual consumer experiences (Moore, 2006). Even though the topic has been extensively covered in news reports, little scholarly literature has addressed this cultu ral phenomenon. Studies on coffee culture in Asian countries mostly focus on changing patterns of beverage consumption in countries such as Japan and South Korea. Ear lier studies on McDonald ce on Japanese culture identified a changing diet as wel l as social patterns that contribute to a unique Japanese culture as part of the global process (Traphagan & Brown, 2002; Ritzer, 2008). The combination of local and global food was considered to be a new Japanese culture rather than the clash between the east and the west. It therefore produces a new coffee culture, unique to Japan with a feature emphasizing middle class and white collar culture in metropolis. Weinberg and Bealer (2001) examined the constantly changing caffeine cultures in the world and g culture is featured by the art of the tea ceremony, which is deeply rooted in history and manifested (Wei nberg & Bealer, 2001, p 133) for both tea and coffee started with the commerce of coffee to Japan. Specifically, Japan i s Starbucks s target market and Starbucks coffee shops introduced a new concept of lifestyle, which, according to the authors, is truly what


30 coffeehouse culture is like elsewhere in the world In addition the unique Japanese coffee culture wa s considered an enjoyment of precious personal sp ace in a crowded and busy city ( Weinberg & Bealer, 2001 ). Studies on coffee culture in South Korea suggested similar results. Bak (2005) studied the coffee drinking behaviors among Ko reans and concluded tha t meanings identification with both their national and global identities. Coffee drinking was considered a consumption of Western (or American) culture and lifestyle, in opposition to the indigenous Korean li fes tyle. Starbucks in Korea was also analyze d as a social phenomenon, one that contradicts to the t raditional Korean culture. H ighly individualized products togeth er with the relaxing atmosphere, associate Starbucks with youth culture, global culture and new social relationships in the contemporary Korean society. Yi Ping and Cheng Heng (2010) examined the histo ry of coffee culture in Taiwan and their results resonate with previous findings in South Korea and Japan. Built upon an ameliorated modernity and po st colonialism theoretical background (from the non Western perspective), they argued that coffee in post colonial Taiwan is more than just (p. 446) as well as a connection be tween the global and the local Collins (2008) stated that consuming coffee was an important sign for life style changing which manifest s the dilemma betwee n a global and a local identity Another study on Starbucks consumer relationship in Taiw an revealed that most Taiwan consumers are satisfied with the unique lifestyle provided by Starbucks even without influences from advertisements (Lin & Roberts, 2007). This satisfaction in part


31 cultural perspective, Su, Chiou and Chang (2006) examined the coffee culture in Taiwan in the case of Starbucks Coffee consumption in Taiwan was interpreted as an adoration of Western culture and the ad option of different foreign values. Similarly, Lu (2002) maintained that the city of Shanghai in China, another city with deep colonial past, also has seen an increasing revival of coffee consumption. The emergence of the new coffee culture in Shanghai wa modernization future. The love of a particular beverage in a particular period of time was often within a time period of transitio n or a change in the contextual and historical environment and was also closely associated with people re establishing their new identity. Starbucks in China Even when Starbucks China was still strong As Schultz (2011) stated, the Chinese market has become a priority for the company and is expected to grow into its largest market outside of the U.S. Early success in the North American market had prepared Starbucks for its international debut. St arbucks then in 1999, Starbucks opened its first store in the Chinese mainland in Beijing history 2012). Star bucks is known for providing for consumers which is a relaxing social space between home and workplace. The company has emphasized making the be verage with heart, providing consumers with passion and


32 respect, and the community with responsi bility and authenticity. Schultz (2011) believed pl nurtured in the U.S. for a universal appeal to consumers worldwide, includi ng Chinese consumers. I n order to better blend in the local culture, the company attends to details that are culturally sensitive and locally co nnected. Sc hultz (2011) noted that locally relevant without presenting itself as purely an American or Western brand, Starbucks has tried to create a local reputatio n by reflecting local tastes and offering relevant products that appeal to local consumers while preserving its authenticity. The coffee market in China is predominately controlled by multinational corporations. Despite late entrance into the Chinese ma r ket and increasing competition from other Western coffee brands, Starbucks is the first and among the few that present themselves as the gourme t authentic coffee that embodies a urban modern lifestyle and the affluent, professional class (Bantiwalu & Demis se, 2011). Nescafe by Nestle was the first multinational coffee brand s established in China, most notably known for its instant coffee targeting at office workers. Nestle accounted for 46% of the retail value sales in the Chinese market in 2002, followed b y Maxwell House by Kraft, which is also devoted into the instant coffee sector. However, Starbucks has had dramatic growth in unit sales, up by 814% during the decade since its first store in 1999 (Bantiwalu & Demisse, 2011). Its presence in China also red culture and coffeehouse culture. Starbucks stores are strategically located in order to present the brand as a symbol of the affluent class, a beverage not all can afford. Starbucks stores are


33 located in first tier cities such as Be ijing, Shanghai and Gunagzhou, where most coffee drinkers reside. In the metropolis, Starbucks stores are highly concentrated in areas within the business districts, shopping malls, famous tourist spots and busy street corners (Pons, Jin & Puel, 2006). Eve n though the price of a tall American coffee is the equivalent of that in the U.S., the price range is still considered high for average Chinese consumer; therefore, Starbucks is not something they would consume on a daily basis. The intr oduction of Starb ucks coffee perception of coffee in China. For Chinese consumers coffee started to come in a great variety of styles and flavors replacing their old impression of instant coffee being the only kind of coffee The r ise of another coffee giant Costa coffee from the U.K. has intensified the coffee war. Like Starbucks Costa established itself as a high end coffee brand (Fang, 2011). However, one strategy that distinguished Starbucks from the other coffee brands was its local and g lobal integration. While keeping its loyal customer basis, Starbucks also reached out to thei r potential Chinese consumers through innovation New beverages were created, blending in local ingredients such as black sesame and green tea into their coffee dr inks. The coffee company also added original Chinese tea Research Questions While previous literature provides an overal l account of the coffee culture in Asian countr ies, few focused on consumer perception s and what influences these perceptions. The majority of previous research employed large scale quantitative


34 surveys as means in collecting data while others relied on textual analysis of historical documents or other form s of information. As this topic involves culture and values, a qualitative in depth analy sis is more appropriate and may provide valuable insights into the issue. The production of coffee culture in China is a special case because the production of th e new cultural representation and identity is built upon an existing and dominating culture that conveys contradictory cultural messages. Therefore, t his study contributed to the pre vious literat ure by examining coffee culture from a Chinese perspective. B y seeking to establish the connection be tween cultural representations and consumers interpretations. Theref ore, this study examined coffee culture in China by exploring the meanings Chinese consumers associate with Starbucks coffee culture and learning mo re about their per ception through the five moment s in the circuit of culture. Based on the above litera ture review, this study proposed : RQ1: How is the coffee culture in China produced based on the circuit of culture in the case of Starbucks? RQ1a: How do Chinese perceive the practice of coffee drinking as opposed to tea drinking? RQ1b: What is Starbucks


35 CHAPTER 3 METHOD Focus Group and In depth Interview Focus g r oups and in depth interviews were used as primary data collection means. The lived cultures can sometimes be hard to grasp, as many scholars in social science has discovered. McRobbie (1992) argued for a new paradigm in cultural studies, one that could tear down the wall between text and the lived culture as well as the media and the social reality. This study took a qualitative approach toward the examination of the coffee culture in China. Q interprets the shared and learned patterns of values, behaviors, beliefs, and language of a culture collection of this approach involve s fieldworks such as participant observations and interviews. However, researchers have proposed multiple data collectio n methods including surveys, focus groups as well as textual analysis of secondary data (Gray, 2003; Creswell, 2007). Contrary to what quantitative research proposes, qualitative approach is not based on statistical analysis or any means of quantification. This interpretive approach emphasizes on understanding and analyzing the meanings people attach to certain phenomena and their surrounding social reality. In order to obtain rich information and to maximize the results, this study collected data by cond ucting both focus g roups and in depth interviews. The f ocus group is a data colle a carefully planned series of discussion designed to obtain perception (Krueger & Casey, 2009, p. 2) Participa nts in a focus group usually share common characteristics


36 in relation to the topic under discu ssion. The interactions among the participants in a focus gr oup enrich the content. Most i mportantly, with the interaction in the group discussion, individual res ponses may become more refined, leading the conversation to a deeper level. As participants interact with each other rather than with the researcher, the participants have a greater chance of framing the subject matter i n their own terms thus producing de sirable results (Finch & Lewis, 2003). The size of a typical foc us group varies from four to 10 participants (Krueger & Casey, 2009; Kvale & Brinkmann, 2009) Large focus groups, with eight or more people, may limit the opportunities of each participant t o share their experiences and ideas and thus render the qualities of the information produced. Small focus groups, on the other hand, may limit the range of ex periences. Th erefore the focus groups in this research have an average size of five to six parti cipants In depth interview is another commonly used data collection method in qualitative research. According to Kvale (1996), the qualitative research interview is a conversation process where knowledge is constructed. The in depth interview is normall y u nconstructed or semi structured; subjects. The knowledge produced in in depth interviews is therefore negotiated during the interview process rather than solely offered by the subject. The depth of the answ ers is achieved by a series of probes and follows up questions during the interview (Legard, Keegan & Ward, 2003). have employed qualitative interviews as data gathering met hods and have produced rich data (Buckingham, 1993; Gillespie, 1995; Gray, 1995; Seiter, 1995; Mankerkar,


37 1999). These scholars, besides conducting the interviews, took into consideration the broader socioeconomic environments and national policies when ex amining how mass media influences social identity In addition to examining culture and identity formation under the mass media influence, qualitative approach has also been extensively employed in the field of advertising and marketing (Gardner & Levy, 19 55; Morrison, Haley, Sheehan & Taylor, 2007). Qualitative research, especially lengthy and small feelings and attitudes toward a certain product and brand (Gardner & Levy, 1 955). One of such interview te chniques, according to Gardner and Levy (1955), is the thematic fore this study cho se focus group and in depth interview with similar techniques as primary data collection means to investigate on Star b ucks consumer culture and identity. Qualitative interviews through digital or virtual means have been increasingly pop ular for its cost effectiveness and its ability to conduct interviews despite of the geographical distance. Videoconference as a n alternative means for in person or telephone interviews is recommended by many scholars for its convenience and low cost. Howe ver, disadva ntages of videoconferencing include technology problems that may affect clear understanding and difficulties in establishing rapport between the participants and the researcher, es pecially with sensitive topics (Booth, 2008; Kazmer & Xie, 2008 ; Sedgwick & Spiers, 2009 ) While Skype has been recommended as a n effective videoconferencing tool for conducting qualitative research by many scholars (Booth 2008; Karzmer & Xie, 2008), many participants in this research do not have the


38 software installed in the ir computer s The refore, the choice of instant message tool was bas and convenience As many participants prefer using QQ, the most popular Chinese ins tant messaging tool, both Skype and Q Q were utilized in conducti ng the in depth intervie ws in this research Participants The sampling strategies of this st udy were purposefully designed Both homogeneous and theoretical sampling strategies were employed in this study. Homogeneous samples, according to Ritchie, Lewis and Elam (2003), are for the purpose of providing a comprehensive view on a particular topic within a specific demographic and socia l context. Theoretical sampling is the sampling strategy in which participants are sampled according to their contribution t o the construction of the theory (Rit chie, Lewis & Elam, 2003 ). Furthermore, t he data collection process is determined by whether the data has reached saturation, or to the extent where no new themes emerge. Previous literature shows that coffee is partic ularly popular in major cities in China and that its primary consumers are the young er 2010). In addition, Starbucks rising upper middle Starbucks 2011). In qualitative research, participants are selected based on their relevance to the study. A homogeneous sample reflects Starbucks ion. Therefore this study only focuses on the Chinese young er generation, typically those matching the above professions. Participants in this study meet the following criteria: (1) Young Chinese


39 people aged 20 30 ; ties with access to Starbucks coffee ; (3) Regular coffee drinkers and Starbucks consumers. Participants and alumni listserv. The informed consent form (Appendix A & App endix B ) and the interview guides (Appendix E & Appendix F) were sent to the listserv with the recruiting message. The focus groups consisted of university students, both graduate students and undergraduate students as well as young professionals. The s amp ling technique for the in depth in terviews wa s snowball sampling. Participants were told to recommend their friends of their age who are also regular coffee drinkers and frequent Starbucks consumers. T his sampling strategy produced a more homogeneous group that could better represent Starbucks A s participants view ed socialization as part of their coffee experience this approach also offered more insights The i n depth interviews were conducted via videoconference means such as Skype IR B approval for this study was grante d on June 1, 2011. It is valid through May 31, 2012. Creswell (2007) stated that the purpose of a qualitative study is not to generalize the information collected, but rather to unveil the specific and to uncover the ex tensiveness and ric hnes s of the individual cases. Al though Scholars have recommended three to four focus groups (Krueger & Casey, 2009) or six to eight interviews (Guest & Johnson, 2006) for a homogeneous sample in a typical research, the sample size for c ultural studies is determined by whether the data has reached saturation.


40 The researcher in this study co nducted four focus groups and 13 in depth interviews continuing data collection until the data reached saturation Each focus group lasted around tw o hours while the in depth interv iews lasted about one hour. Interviewin g people whose first language is not English can sometimes be ch allenging given their ability to express their views in a foreign language. Issues such as anxiety and misunderstanding may occur in the process (Birks, Chapman & Francis, 2007). Therefore in this study, both the focus groups and the in depth interviews were conducted in Chinese. The interview and focus group guides were available in both English ( Appendix C & Appendix D ) and Chinese (Appen dix E & Appendix F ) Data A nalysis 4, p 99). The analysis of both focus gro ups and in depth interviews in this study was transcription based. In other words, the researcher analyzed the unabridged transcripts by developing categories of emerging themes. The transcriptions were analyzed in Chinese, the language it was conducted in and the themes were also developed in Chinese then were translated into English. In a qualitative research, the data analysis is driven by the purpose of the study. Therefore the data concerning the research question was elaborated while the unrelated da ta were considered but ultimately disconnected (Krueger & Casey, 2009). After data transcription, the major themes and subthemes were identified and analyzed. Preliminary codes were identified based on the focus groups transcription and prior theoretical basis, including previous literature. Techniques of theme identification proposed by Ryan and Bernard (2003) were used in this study, where important key


41 phrases, repetitions, local terms, metaphors and analogies, transitions, similarities and contrasts, theory related material were underlined to develop preliminary codes.


42 CHAPTER 4 FINDINGS AND ANALYSI S Altogether four focus groups and 13 in depth interviews were conducted, with 20 participants in the focus groups and 13 participants in the in depth interviews. In total, there were one undergraduate student, 19 graduate students and 13 professionals such as media workers, sales representatives, public relations practitioners and bank personnel. The participants were aged between 22 and 28 While focus groups participants perceive d themselves to be coffee drinkers, in depth interview participants define d themselves as both coffee drink ers and frequent Starbucks custo mers. For the purpose of confidentiality, the participants in this research were given p seudonym s in the following section when their quotations were cited. General Impression and Attitudes towards Coffee C ulture Chinese consumers have two general impressions in terms of their experiences and attitudes towards coffee culture. In the first im pression, coffee remained a functional beverage. The participants, most of who m were born between 1980 and 1990 grew up with the coffee culture in China. When Nescaf was first introduced in China, they were still in school. Thus Nestle instant coffee was their first memory of coffee and the coffee that represented student life. Many participants expressed that t he first coffee experi or at least did not leave them with a positive memory. However, they became frequent coffee drinke rs during this time, when they turned to caffeine for he lp under pressure from exams and homework deadlines. Coffee in this stage was primarily utilitarian, and acted as the alternative f or energy drinks. I started drinking [coffee] when I was in high sch ool, when I was studying for the politics test. I was so sleepy that I m seem to think of it when there w ere no exams. And then when I was in college and had to


43 stay up late, I would also have some. Now that I started workin g, I would need a can of instant coffee w I use it only to give myself a lift, ( Z. Xiao focus group, July 14, 2011) The second impression was the introduction of coff ee houses such as Starbuck s The of coffee as being a solely functional beverage. It wa s also the first time Chinese consumers encountered authentic freshly brewed coffee Coffee as well as coffee houses fulfill ed a number of other functions besides as an energy drink. Chinese consumers started to attach cultural meanings to coffee and associated it with a variety of cultural connotations. Generally spe aking, participants mentioned custo mer service, environment ( servicescape), derivative products, localization and personal connections when talking about their experiences in Starbucks I remember going to Starbucks with my friends af ter watching the movie My Blueb erry Nights. That was my first time having Starbuc ks It was probably frappuccino, I thought it was expensive and taste so so. But the environment was romantic. It was Christmas and Starbucks was playing Christmas songs and the decoration looks great. ( C. Liao focus group, July 14, 2011) Types of Starbuc ks C onsumers The Starbucks consumer types were an additional finding while analyzing the emerging themes. They provide better understanding of the consumer perspective s Based on their consumption behaviors and attitudes towards the brand, Starbucks consu mer s can be generally divide d into four types. The four types fall into the consumer typologies Dittmar (2008a) identified based on buying motiv es: the functional, social experiential, emotion al and efficiency Dittmar (2008a) identified three major dime nsions of consumer typologies and buying motives: the functional, the emotional and the identity related motives. While the


44 functional motives, including the economic and the instrumental motives, make up a large proportion, other specific categories such as identity, efficiency, social experiential and emotional are also deemed important. Both social experiential experience and emotional motives fall under the emotional dimension. Whereas the social experiential motive emphasizes a good feeling of and dire ct contact with the actual consumption social environment, the emotional motive is relatively more personal and related to individual pleasure. Identity motives, identified by Dittmar (2008a) refer to the consumption motive consumers have in order to impr ess others or achieve recognition in terms of their own status. These consumer typologies and motives are important in understanding how consumers interpret the culture according to their own consuming behaviors. The first type (the functional) consumes S tarbucks for functional reasons They consume Starbucks replacement for the coffee Starbucks provided, they became frequent visitors. They are attracted to either the freshly brewed coffee, or the special drinks Starbucks offers for a limited time. This kind of consumer is not particularly interested in the cultural meanings attached to coffee, nor what the brand represents. They go to Starbucks for more practical reasons and pay more attention tion and its authentic tastes. For example, one p articipant said : Sometimes I just need some black coffee in depth interview, February 10) The second type of c onsumers (the social experiential) stresses the social experiential experience. In other words, t his type of consumers goes to Starbucks for


45 the environment, or its servicescape. They emphasize the location, interior design and service of the coffee store more than anyth ing else. This kind of consumer takes advantage of th e third space Starbucks provides In their understanding they are consumi ng not only the coffee, but more importantly the space. I remember it had a very special interior design. One s ide of the store was under a staircase and its celling was therefore slightly slope and was covered with mirrors. It also had other decorations. It gave you the feeling of the petty bourgeois and an affective tone. Also I went there with my friend, so I f eel really ( Y. Zheng focus group, July 14, 2011) The third type of consumers (the emotional) attaches a personal and emotional connection to the brand itself. They like what is associated with the brand and like to be part of the culture. On one hand, they may be attracted to the brand image and the corporate cultu re. On the other, they have unique personal anecdotes related to Starbucks making it more appealing than other brands. Personally I think i aware of the fact that Starbucks is the most famous brand and has the most Yes, I ( W Wang in depth interview, February 8, 2012) The fo u rth type of consumers (the efficiency) falls into the efficiency category. They do not have personal preference towards Starbucks but are influenced by external factors. The ubiquity of Starbucks in ur ban China has made it a particularly convenient location for those seeking efficiency. The presence of Starbucks stores on their way to work, in the shopping malls and in their work places makes it a popular spot to take a rest, grab a cup of coffee and me et friends. They see Starbucks as a convenient location to meet with their friends and to have refreshment.


46 Basically every time my friends and I went out, we would choose Starbucks to meet under this tower or that one, it will always be at Starbucks coming from all directions. Some will take longer time on the bus. We will always drink something and have some small talk before heading out for shopping or for dining. (Q. T ian in depth interview, January 26, 2011) It should be noted that t he se categories are not mutually exclusive. Som e individuals may have started to consume Starbucks as one type and then gradually gained personal affection and turned into an other type of consumer One consumer may also possess several characteristics. In general, most consumers belong to the last three types. Identity related motiv es are not categorized as a consumer type in this study since participants expressed their identity elevation as a result of the Starbucks consumption regardless of their initial buying motives. It will be discussed in the f ollowing section Themes Overall s even themes were identified in this study. T he findings are presented by analyzing the identified themes r espectively since breaking up each moment in the circuit of culture model will render understanding the movement of the entire circuit impossible Nonetheless, t he moment s in the circuit of culture will be discussed with the relevant themes. While most the mes reflect identity and representation, they are produced through the consumption and the production moment s of the coffee culture i n China Theme 1: The W atershed Identity, according to Woodward (1997), is first and foremost defined by difference. In o ther words, people define their own identities by distinguish ing themselves from others. Identity also depends on how people interpret different si gns


47 and representations The coffee culture in China as a watershed of different i dentities offers an illustr ation of how identities are negotiated and defined in terms of what tea culture is not Whereas Starbucks initially created its representation by defining its target population as the rising middle class and students ( China ), this representation was being negotiat identification with the brand. Accompanying the consumption moment, the identification process ultimately altered the regulation of how personal identities such as generation and social status shoul d be culturally defined. Findings show that t he practice of coffee drinking including Starbucks consumption, has been seen as a dividing line to separate people of different generations, social classes, and professionals. The participants, who define d the mselves as coffee drinkers perceived coffee as a beverage to be consumed by mostly the young generation in China. In contrast, the older generations are seen to be tea drinkers. Even though most participants admitted that they still drink tea frequently, t hey see coffee as a distinct beverage for the young generation. Besides age and generation social class and professional status are two other factors that c offee drinkers are classified into a group of people who are well educated and well established, mo stly intellectuals or white collar workers working in foreign corporations. I think relatively they are more knowledgeable, or it belongs to the lifestyle of people from an upper social level in the society. They have certain knowledge and culture, and th us it is easier for them to accept new things in life. ( D. Ying in depth interview, February 8, 2012 ) The watershed has two meanings for the participants. First, influences from their friends, social circles and the larger society, including how co ffee b rands represent them, have defined what it means to be in a generation, social class or occupation. In


48 this aspect both production and consumption moment s both Starbucks and its consumers have contributed to this representation. Second, by consuming the beverage distinct to a certain social group, the participants express their own identity, o r what they strive to be in life. This function of coffee consumption is realized since the n, but have also set the rules of what it requires to be a certain generation, social status or profession. The consumption i tself can distinguish them from others. In other words, f the representations influence the ir identity formation, they use consump tion as a means to achieve the desired identity. The coffee culture is therefore produced as cultural symbol that signifies different generation s and occupations. R epresentation is the moment in the circuit of culture where cultural meanings are generated. It is subject ive and depends on different circumstances and contexts However, this cultural meaning may in turn influence how culture is produced and consumed. one of the themes reflect s how Chinese consumers interpret the representation of coffee culture and tea culture in the contemporary era. The situational differences result in a representation that is not entirely enforced by the corporation but is actively shaped by the c onsumers. I think ten years ago my understanding of coffee was just Nestle instant coffee and n ow it was just Starbucks coffee. T his is the difference, I think. ( F. Li focus group, August 2, 2011 ) I think coffee culture in China is still on the surface. T hat said, Chinese people much about coffee. (Y. Zhang in depth interview, January 20, 2012)


49 According to both focus groups and in depth interviews, t he participants felt the y were generally less savvy and less erudite when it comes to coffee culture, compared with Western coffee drinkers. In other words, Chinese con sumers only know the superficialities of coffee c ulture, rather than the essence Instead of knowing the differe nt kinds of coffee beans or brewing processes, coffee exist s in their lives as brand names such as Starbuck s Costa or Nestle In their understanding people originally from coffee drinking cultures treat coffee brewin g and coffee drinking as an art and st udy coffee and its cu lture. On the other hand the participants agree that this superficia lity in coffee culture contrast s with Chinese tea culture This theme reflects res pectively. Perceiving coffee culture as an imported culture, they are reluctant to learn more about it. of culture. Whereas tea was seen as classical and historical, coffee is considered to be modern and commercial This general impression not only influences how they consume the product, but also affects the production of coffee culture in China. C offee con sumption, in this case, may be interpreted as a temporary fever This suggests coffee culture is more of a popular culture and will therefore be more difficult to ingrain deeply in Chinese culture. But at least I think the vast majority of people...if you r understanding of tea profundities of tea culture, how can you say you really know about coffee culture? Unless you are studying it. Or you can just merely consume coffee an (R. Dong in depth interview, February 3, 2012 )


50 Despite the fact that coffee companies such as Starbucks have been trying to atta ch historical origins to their own corporate representations the attempt s have change d how it i s being interpreted. In general participants expressed that they were not particularly interested in learning the coffee h istory, knowledge, nor the differe nt coffee beans that Starbucks introduced. This is partially due to the traditional custom s established by the Chinese people through long social practices. Historically, tea culture has had a major function and position in China. Its representation is dee ply ingrained in acting as the regulation in the circuit of culture, restricts how the representation is being produced Theme 3 Socialization In the circuit of culture, the five moments are insepara ble. The moment of production is considered complete only when the meanings are contested and negotiated through the consumption moment. Consumption in this sense becomes part of the production process. The theme of socialization illustrat es how the two mo ments interact via representation and identity Friends or friendships are the words the participants associated most with coffee, coffee culture and Starbucks It is the beverage they will consume when they are with their friends. One of the most su itable locations for coffee consumption, according to the participants, is the coffee house. On the one hand, participants see coffee as In other words, coffee is a kind of beverage that is consumed with certain people and under certain circumstances. Coffee and coffee houses, incl uding Starbucks represent an important social part of their lives. This representation also influences how they consume coffee.


51 I will only drink it [Starbucks coffee] in certain occasions, for e xample if everyone is drinking it at that time, then I would also feel like having it, but I on my own (J. Chen in depth interview, February 5, 2012) On the other hand, the practice of coffee drinking and Starbucks coffee house cultur e has in some way served a social function for the Chinese. T he t eahouse has long been the social gathering space for Chinese people. It has been a tradition for larger Chinese families to gather at restaurants or teahouses to have casual talk. Teahouses i n China may vary from high end ones with individual rooms to lower end ones with a singular public space While the high end teahouse s and restaurants are still the top choice for business meetings, they are generally deemed to be too expensive and formal for the public especially the younger generation Conversely, lower end t eahouses are often noisy and unpleasant. However, the introduction of coffee houses, with more comfo rtable and spacious environment as well as quiet er surroundings, offers a perfec t alternative for the young Chinese who would not want to be like their parents. In addition, coffee is no t only more affordable, but more importantly, less formal than tea. Places for socialization are no lo nger confined to places like di n ing tables or te ahouses but have extended to coffee houses. If a group of people wanted to get together, say, in the 1980s or 1990s, families and friends wanted to get together, to have small talks or something, they would do it surrounding the di ning tables. It would ju st be gathering together to have a meal and then do other thi ngs afterwards aside of the din ing table. But when coffee houses like Starbucks came to China, when this kind of leisure places came to China, places for people to discuss, or to have leisure tal k are not limited to just dinning tables, but are instead shifted to the side of coffee tables. They will go to coffee houses to get together, replacing eating together like before. (W. W ang, in depth interview, February 8, 2012)


52 Starbucks advocating the me and workplace, fills in the gap for the young Chinese people by perform ing this social function in pla ces other than teahouses and di ning tables. Compared with traditional teahouses and restaurants, the fact that Starbucks sto res are non smoking and provide free Wi Fi also has an advantage According to participants, this was one of the reasons they chose Starbucks as a primary socialization place Consequently, Starbucks provides the young er generation a spac e to distinguish themselves from the older generation, who would consider teahouse as a primary choice for social gatherings. Freedom, relax ation and leisure. Mostly I would be with friends when I was in Starbucks it would seldom be only one or two peopl e, but it would normally be more than two. And we would chat and the atmospheres were very free, you can be very casual, lying on the sofa, I would feel really unrestrained. (D. Ying in depth interview, February 8, 2012) As is su ggested by the previous l iterature t he mass media also play a very important r ole in the transition process. Cultural meanings associated with coffee houses are being conveyed by the mass media. personal experiences and functional motives, i ma ges and plots in TV shows and movies have further enhanced this impression. the rule ...They will give you a kind of concept, for example if you want to find a place to chat, coffee shop would be the first place that pop up in your mind, you will then think of going to have a cup of coffee, because in TV shows they will the first concept, and also a clear orientation: the place to chat is coffee shop, rather than teahouse or some other places. (S. Li focus group, July 29, 2011) Even though this theme is primari ly the functional aspect of coffee houses and Starbucks it suggests the consumption beh avior and consu m e interpretation of the


53 representation of coffee culture and Starbucks coffee culture. The consumption moment suggest s that c offee culture in China including Starbucks coffee culture is produced and defined as a social culture. However this social culture differs from the Instead of enjoying individual and personal space, Chinese consumers, in a collectivistic society and with a teahouse a collecti ve and social space. The negotiated meanings are therefore produced. Theme 4 : Novelty Meaning in the circuit of culture system is inherently shaped through socially constructed symbols. The theme novelty is one of such symbols representing the coffee cul ture in China Coffee is and will probably continue to be a novelty to the Chinese people. Initially the participants were mostly drawn by curiosity to taste the beverage when they were kids. Some were intrigued by the early advertisements and commercials, some by early movies and cartoons and some others by the influence of families and friends. The rarity of coffee at the time when the participants first encountered coffee gave them the impression that coffee is a rare and exotic product. The novelty of c offee as well as the exotic images and stories was alluring to them. I remember I was watching the cartoon Nowara Shinnosuke. One episode was sleep. This was my first imp ression, and then coffee appeared in a lot of cartoons, so I just wanted to have a try. (H. Bai focus group, July 14, 2011) Starbucks coffee gave r ise to another wave of curiosity in coffee. While Nestle brought instant coffee to China an d gained popular ity, Starbuck s wa s among one of the few coffee chain stores that started to offer authentic coffee, or the freshly brewed coffee. From store interior design to the ordering process, Starbucks provided a new


54 experience for its consumers. It even comes up wi th special terms referring to its coffee and its cup sizes that would only make sense within its stores. Al though Starbucks has opened a number of stores in major cities such as Beijing in the past decade and expand ed in recent years, to second tier citie s where consumers have less purch asing power (Gao & Wang, 2012). When the first Starbucks opened in Jinan, a lot of people went to wait in line for a new experiences whe all like to have a try. (W. W ang, in depth interview, February 8, 2012) After all, Starbucks fostered and enhanced the concept of freshly brewed coffee. Before that China is under the instant co learn more about coffee culture only after Starbucks came in. This is a good (G. Zhou in depth interview, February 4, 2012) This theme reflects the re presentation of c offee culture in China Representation and production i n this case have formed a reciprocal relationship. Meanings are produced not solely by the corporations but are given to and negotiated by the consumers in certain contexts Novelty was not something S tarbucks brought with itself when it entered the Chinese market, nor was it the representation Starbucks intended to associate its brand with. China and the current Chinese social environment determines how this meaning is cr eated. It is a society that is opening to the outside world and starting to accept difference. As this representation is generated by situational social contexts, it is subject to change once the larger social climate alters Theme 5 : Cosmopolitan ism Acc ording to the circuit of culture model, meanings are produced through signifying practices and constructed by power relations that decide who is included and


55 who is not in a certain cultural group (Woodward, 1997). Identity exists at individual, national a nd organizational levels (Curtin & Gaither, 2005 ) The circuit of culture model defines identity as a dynamic moment that interacts w ith and is influenced by all other moments. The theme cosmopolitanism reflects the vigorous process in which identity is fo rmed. While participants debated whether or not coffee culture has local ized in China, one common view wa s that coffee culture is one of the most important representations of the Western culture and lifestyle. Therefore consuming coffee also means consumi ng a Western and modern lifestyle. Cosmopolitanism is one of the many consequences of the global cultural flows that spread the Western lifestyle to diverse cultures worldwide as symbols and products via the mass media (Barker, 2000) Starbucks coffee is a medium through which people may feel that they are connected to the world and becoming a citizen of the world. When asked about what life would be like without coffee, one participant answered: I think my life will go backwards. It feels like it will retr ogress to a pure ... like the era when I was in elementary school ... to a state where there was less communication with the outside world and being very ignorant and ill informed ... coffee is just like a kind of communication medium with the outside worl d, a modern lifestyle. (C. Li ao focus group, July 14, 2011) Starbucks represents coffee culture; it also represents the American corporate cultu re. For many Chinese people, Starbucks corporate identity is more salient tha n the coffee it is selling. Furt hermore, with Starbucks locating most of its stores in the business district s and busy traveling spots, it not only attracts Chinese consumers but also foreign con sumers. This further intensifies its image as a brand representing


56 Western culture. Another p articipant expressed his feelings of consuming an international brand. One of my strong impressions was also in Starbucks It was the Starbucks in terminal 3 of the airport. It was my first time having caramel macchiato. Before that, I had always thought that coffee tasted just ok, not good, but just so so. The first time I had caramel macchiato, I thought it was really good. Maybe it is because of this, but the environment was also very good. The Starbucks in terminal 3, like you just mentioned the cultur e, that store had a really good interior design. I was surrounded by a lot of foreigners and all I heard was also foreign languages. At one time I thought I was not in China. That felt really special. (D. Chen focus group, July 14, 2011) However, excessi vely imitating the Western lifestyle also draws criticisms. Coffee dr inkers are sometimes being labeled as blindly worshiping foreign goods. While the participants disagree d on whether there is a unique Chinese coffee culture, they con cur with the view tha t they are deeply influenced by the Western culture. In the meantime, Starbucks has been trying to adapt to the local culture. The glocalization strategy has not only put Chinese tea a nd Chinese desserts on the menu but also provided development of Chinese flavored coffee drinks that were sold only on special occasions such as Chinese traditional holidays. There are also derivative products such as coffee cups featuring Chinese folklore figures While the par ticipants felt ambivalent about traditional Chine se tea, they seemed generally positive about the special customized and seasonal drinks that reflected Chinese folklore For example, one participant remembered the Peach Blossom Latte she had in Starbucks The Peach Blossom L atte was based on the Chinese belief that the consumption of peach blossoms will The Peach Blossom L the special seasonal drinks, for just one month ... it tasted awful, it was just peach blossom flavored tea with milk. So it was said online that if you ordered this drink in Starbucks they would ask you whether you have a boyfriend or a girlfriend. If


57 you said no, then they would add more peach blossom syrup in it. A lot of peo ple went to try. It was really interesting. They know how to do business here, making up stories to make you happy. And they also have many new drinks. I really like that. (R. Dong in depth interview, February 3, 2012) This theme described how identities are formed through the other four moments. On the organizational level, Starbucks originally possesses a global identity, one that represents its corporate culture Upon entering the Chinese market, Starbucks was being portrayed as a Western brand, selling Western beverages and representing Western lifestyle. participation in the production process, the negotiated meanings, such as a changed identity and their readings of the representation, are therefore produced. The p roduction of this negotiated new identity for the corporation and a mixture of both global and local culture This process is accompanied by the identity formation on the individual and the national level. The consumption moment for the consumers involves recognizing the corporate culture (i.e., accepting what Starbucks stand s for) and acknowledging their own personal as well as national identities. For individual consumers, it is conciliation between their new identity as a global citizen (i.e., personal level) and their old identity as Chinese ( i.e., national level ) The three identity levels and the meanings thereby produced respectively are continuously changing. Therefore, it will be an important issue for Starbucks to manage their cosmopolitan identity as well as balancing b etween the global and the local. Theme 6 : Rhythm of life Similar to the theme novelty, where newness is composed of cultural symbols through the circuit of culture, the theme rhythm of life is also one of such representation s. Coffee culture is also perceived to be a symbol of a fast pace d lifestyle,


58 as compared with what tea culture represented in China. In addition to the casual and relaxing coffee house environment for social functio n s coffee is most often seen as a kind of fast consumption good especially for the office workers. Despite the fact that sitting on a sunny balcony with a cup of coffee and a book in hand is ideal of how to spend their idle time coffee was seen more as a kind of fast food by participants It represented the bustle and hustle city life and a productive work life. I think two lifestyles are associated with coffee. One is the kind they just mentioned, having a cup of coffee and reading a book in the afternoon, which is more leisurely and carefree. Another kind exists among the office workers. It is the painful lifestyle where you hold a cup of coffee and rush to your office in the (C. Li ao focu s group, July 14, 2011) Fast pace in my understanding means the people consuming coffee are mainly highly efficient. I think they are only drinking coffee when they need to relax moderately in their high efficient lives. It would never be a slow or complet ely relaxed lifestyle. But I think tea is for idle hours. ( J. Chen in depth interview, February 5, 2012 ) In sharp contrast, tea culture is perceived to be more time consuming and sedate The participants frequently mentioned the Kongfu tea ceremony, whic h literally m The ceremony is seen as a form of art that requi res equanimity and leisure time This perception of the representation of tea culture and coffee culture therefore, has a huge impact on chan ging lifestyle. The circuit of culture model is often analyzed in the larger social context. The coffee culture is among the many other phenomena in this era marked by fast speed and efficiency. The fast pace d lifestyle, therefore, might not be a concept Starbucks would intend to associate its brand with. With t the corporation hope s to create an atmosphere of relaxation and leisure. While admittedly this atmosphere is manifested in its socialization function the cultural symbol must be


59 understood within the social context. It is deeply influenced by the larger socio economic environment in China, where the developing pressure places higher demands in all aspects of the society. Theme 7 : Xiaozi The circuit of culture framework al lows an examination of the production of culture through both the global and the local lens es. Local regulations, or the informal cultural controls over the cultural norms and expectations ( Curtin & Gaither, 2005 ), govern how imported ideas and meanings ar e reshaped by the local cultural nuances. The theme Xiaozi dem onstrates how imported culture adapts to the local environment Xiaozi is the most frequently occurring word during both the focus groups and the in depth interviews. Literately meaning the p etty bourgeois sentiment, it is a popular term in the Chinese public discourse in recent years. Generally, Xiaozi refers a group of concerned, petty bourgeois are by and large current white collars, although they also (Zh ang, Rao, Feng, & Peng, 2011, p .111). With regard to ideological tendencies, the pet ty bourgeois are the liberals who are more willing to try out and accept new things in life. The petty bourgeois are satisfied with their current living and working status, representing the new Chinese middle class. Their lives and lifestyles are also the most desired among Chinese youth. The Xiaozi phenomeno n is closely related to the Chinese market segmentation and branding strategies in China. For example Wang (2008) identified b discussed how people in the lower tiers of the soci al pyramid emulate what and how people sitting at the top consume to elevate their social status.


60 Not surprisingly, the practice of coffee drinking has become one of the symbols of being a petty bourgeois. Furthermore, drinking coffee has beco me popular among Chinese youth who stri ve to be in the higher soci al status since it is an act that can be easily emulated. Even though t here was no agreed definition of the term, the explana tions the participants give were more or less the same. I feel like, it is a kind of pursuit that has b roken away from the daily lives and daily concerns, that has gone beyond merely getting sufficient food and clothing. Something like a pleasure, or a kind of fulfillment or achievement approved by others, maybe something like this. It is a lifestyle that w ill make you feel comfortable and distinct. (D. Ying in depth interview, February 8, 2012) Ever since its entry into the Chinese market, Starbucks has slowly become the representation of being a petty bourgeois. The green logo, the environment, the servi ce, the interior design and it derivative products are all associated with the petty bourgeois lifestyle. A typical impression of Starbucks coffee house, according to the participants, would be spacious and cozy, with dim light and leisurely music in the b ackground. While the description is generally neutral, it also b ears a negative connotation. T ogether with coffee cu lture in general, Starbucks is criticized f or positioning itself as a high end product in China. Chinese consumers are well aware of the fac t that the coffee is over priced and the brand image purposefully built. Nonetheless, even with the continuing ly r ising price, Starbucks is still gaining popularity. When I was in college, a new Starbucks opened in the neighborhood. It was the first Starb ucks out why people wo uld attach the label Xiaozi to coffee, since it is merely a kind of beverage ...On Weibo and other social network sites. Some would flaunt their pictures online with all kinds of coffee cups, showing off that they went to Starbucks or Costa me up with that impression spontaneously, it is really just the general trends nowadays. (G. Zhou in depth interview, February 4, 2012)


61 Similar to the previous theme cosmopolitanism, this theme also involves several moment s in the circuit of culture model T he corporation positioned itself as a high end product targeting at a particular social group. The brand brought to China its coffee and the concept associated with luxury and pretentiousness. However, social context and cultural norms consumers interpret th is representation as Xiaozi, or the petty bourgeois lifestyle. Thompson (1997) stated that regulation in the circuit of culture model depends on both social power structures as well as the active contributions from individuals. Xiao zi is a term created within and unique to the Chinese society. By consuming Starbucks they also try to alter their own identity so as to live up to the status of what is suggested by the representation. Consequently, al l the above moment s contri buted to the production of coffee culture in China as represented by the petty bourgeois lifestyle


62 CHAPTER 5 DISCUSSIONS, IMPLICA TIONS AND RECOMMENDA TIONS This study seek s to understand the production of coffee culture in China based on the framework of groups and in depth interviews were conducted to collect consumer perceptions and readings of the culture as well as the coffee chain Starbucks following sections invo lve a brief summary of the findings in answering the research questions as well as discussion and interpretation of the results under the circuit of culture framework. Summary of Findings Altogether seven themes emerged from the focus groups and in dept h ism rhythm of life and Xiaozi. The participants attached cultural meanings to the practice of coffee drinking. The practice of coffee drinking, including Starbucks consumptio n, is, first and foremost, a behavioral sign to distinguish between generations and between different occupations. Second, coffee culture in China exists primarily as the coffee brand names and the superficialities. Third, for the Chinese young generation, coffee houses have replaced teahouses and restaurants as primary choice for socialization. Fo u rth, coffee represents a Western and cosmopolitan lifestyle. Furthermore, it a lso symbolizes the frenetic pace of modern city life. Last but not least, the new coffee craze embodied higher status in the society.


63 Research Q ue stion 1a asked how Chine se perceive the practice of coffee drinking as opposed to tea drinking. Results revealed that even though the participants defined themselves as coffee drinkers, they also drink tea regularly. In addition, while coffee is seen as a functional beverage that provides caffeine, tea is more likely to be treated as an alternative or replacement of water. In terms of flavor, tea is generally weak and light, compared with the strong flavor coffee has. From the cultural perspective, tea drinking is considered to be a common practice that has dissolved in their daily lives and is seldom th ought about. Coffee, however, i s the unconventional and exotic refreshment imported from the West. A s was shown in the themes, even though the two beverages coexisted in Chinese peo be the opposite of tea in terms of not only its production and consumption, but also its re presentation and identity. C off ee is considered to be the beverage of the young an d professionals; tea is for the old and retire international and busy, tea is profound, historical, domestic and idle. How Chinese perceive coffee drinking and tea drinking reflects their understandings of the representation of the two different cultures and thei r own identity, thereby influencing their consuming behaviors. The predominant Chinese culture is seeing a paradigm shift from tea culture to coffee culture. However, this shift is accompanied by ambivalence, confusion and dilemma among the new generation. On the one hand, the novelty, convenience, efficiency and global connection coffee culture represents appeals to them. They feel like their identity can be better manifested and represented through the culture and ideas coffee culture stands for. On the o ther hand, with coffee culture being labeled as Westernization and the petty bourgeois lifestyle,


64 they feel like the act of coffee drinking and advocating the lifestyle it embodies is a n. The choice of tea or coffee may seem insignificant when it comes to discussing the larger terms such as national identity and cultural imperialism. But when drinking habits are closely lives, the importance of it is then incontestable. In the case of this study, the choice has a direct impact on how foreign coffee brands such as Starbucks should position itself. Nonetheless, views on whether a distinct Chinese cof fee culture exists or not vary Many considered the present Chinese coffee culture to be directly bo rrowed and copied from the West. However, participants in this study, as stated above, belong to the young generation in China. Their behaviors, perceptions and attitudes determi ne the future of Chinese culture. Even though the vast majority of Chinese people still consumes tea, it will be hard to tell whether this will still be the case in ten or twenty years. As one participant pointed out, the habits of this generation may have greater influence on the formation of a unique coffee culture in China in the near future. Research question 1b asked what is Starbucks Chinese consumers. As a trans national corpo ration, Starbucks inevitably faces the issue of ex panding or localize its brandscape so as to accommodate to the local culture while maintaining its original corporate identity. It stands in a difficult dilemma between l consumers. Chinese Starbucks constructed surrounding what Starbuck s is stand for. Therefore their interpretation and perceptions of the brandscape is extremely important for the corporation.


65 With regard to the functional experience it provided to its consumers, the generation is look ing for alternatives to show their uniqueness from the rest. It also satisfied their growing demands. The old style traditional Chinese teahouse which is either too noisy and clamor ous or too expensive and formal, is obsolete for the current demands. Many Chinese consumers prefer Starbucks because of its quietness, spaciousnes s, casualness and convenience. According to the participa n t s, i n addition to its in door and out door environment as well as decorations, Starbucks is a non smoking public space that not only offers free W i Fi, but also provides great custo mer service. To the Chinese consumers who need their own social space, Starbucks gives them an alternative choice. Additionally, emphasizing authenticity, freshly brewed coffee and coffee drinks tha t are customized on the spot, Starbucks bring s entirely new experience to Chinese consumers who have tired of drinking instant coffee. As one of the first few coffee brands that entered the Chinese market, the fact that many participants associate coffee i mmediately with the brand perfectly illustrates the favorable impressions brand brings to the consumers. As many other foreign brands, Starbucks positioned itself as a high end brand with superior quality for only a subgroup of people on a certain social level when it entered the Chinese market. This orientation, however, has drawn more consumers than it had intended to. It has sent an unequivocal message to the upwardly mobile and aspirational young generation that it represents the comfortable lifestyle that the higher


66 social class possesses. Representing the petty bourgeois lifestyle, however, bring about another issue when the upscale orientation suggests a negative connotation. While a part of the population is in pursuit of the ideal lifestyle it repr esents, they are at the same time being criticized for consuming something over their price range. The participants, during the focus groups and in depth interviews, expressed guilt of such a ct and being in the situation. Despite b eing frequent coffee drin kers and Starbucks consumers themselves, they also see excessive attachment to the brand and undue imitation of the lifestyle as inappropriate. However, despite the great experiences and fulfillment of specific social functions, Chinese consumers still se e Starbucks as a foreign and profiting corporation. The act of consuming Starbucks and associating themselves with a foreign brand intensifies the conflict between their traditional identity and the new identity they are looking for. While consuming Starbu cks makes them feel like being the citizen of the world and keeping up with contemporary the representation of a Western lifestyle discourages the thought. Emulating the Western lifestyle or the lifestyle of a petty bourgeois, though not condemned, is not encouraged in the public opinion. Some participants ridiculed themselves for being subservient to foreign goods when talking about their personal habits and preference. They are aware of the fact that it is justifiable as an individual preference but requ ires discretion when it involves collective identity. The incident in 2007 in the Forbidden City was a most prominent example of the intensification of the conflict Rui Chenggang, a Chinese news anchor started an online campaign to remove the Starbucks st ore open ed in the Forbidden City The Forbidden City, situated at the center of Beijing, was the royal palace of 24 emperors in the imperial China and a


67 representation of and traditional Chinese culture Though the store was opened initi ally at the invitation of the palace managers in 2000 the presence of Starbucks was interpreted as an American corporation erodi ng traditional Chinese culture. The tension was magnified and strengthened when the debate entered the public sphere. Under pub lic pressure, the palace managers closed down the Starbucks store inside the palace (Han & Zhang, 2009) Participants in the in depth interviews were asked about their opinions on this incident (Appendix D & Appendix F) Whereas they acknowledged the contr adiction between the two represented cultures they did not relate the incident to their personal lives. While it is almost impossible to conceal its Western identity, it is wise to reconcile and accommodate itself to the local culture. The localization s trategies Starbucks applied rrowing traditional Chinese folklores and figures into the derivative products and combining Chinese foods with coffee drinks, Starbucks did draw a lot of attention. However, there is still an exte nt. When talking about the traditional Chinese tea products Starbucks put on its menu, participants do not seem to appreciate t he effort. Most found it discordant with the overall tone of the brand since it was still perceived to be a Western brand. Conseq uently, it is important for the brand to avoid any disingenuous image exposure that contradicts too much from its original representation. The Starbucks coffee culture fits well into the circuit of culture model, which comprises the int eractions among the five moment s of production, consumption, representation, identity and regulation. As is discussed in the section above, the production of Starbucks coffee culture is closely r elated with the other four mome n t s.


68 Even though the circuit is conti nuously chan ging and the moment s are constantly intertwined and overlap with each other, it will be analyzed in a chorological fashion, from beginning to end. The circuit starts with Starbucks positioning itself as a coffee brand that represents the middle class, up scale and international lifestyle as well as a comfortable dwellers. These images are presented mainly by the omnipresent Starbucks stores in busy street cor ners of every business district and many upper class residential di stricts and are reinforced by images in various mass media portraits. The chic and relaxing interior design and comfortable servicescape also add to the establishment of this initial brand image of a new coffee chain that provides good quality coffee. How ever, with the interaction of consumption, identity and representation, the production of culture twisted a bit. To fulfill the missing gap in their social life, the th eir own personal experiences. It is then not only a space between home and wor k place, but also a substitute f or their antiquated lifestyles. Similarly, th e high end orientation attracts consumers that are not in the targeted segment, who nonetheless redi r ected the culture by adding their own interpretations. As more and more young professionals and students are attracted to the ideal concept, consuming the brand itself become a manifestation of who they are and what they do. Whether or not they have reache d that social status they desired, their consumption behaviors have nonetheless altered the initial image. In addition to its representation of novelty and cosmopolitan ism Chinese consumers begin to interpret it as the Western and the petty


69 bourgeois life style as well as the bustle and hustle city lives. All these perceptions constructed S tarbucks Starbucks developing direction in China. With these consumer perceptions of its coffee culture, Starbucks aims at integrating into the local culture. Chinese desserts, Chinese tea product and various traditional folklore and holiday related derivative products appeared on Starbucks s h elf. The strategy of bringing in more local related elements intends to increase its Chineseness and to conceal its Western identity. To have a sustainable future, the ultimate goal for Starbucks is still to retain its original corporate identity as a standardized corporate chain store that makes gourmet coffee. The localization proc ess Starbucks is undertaking now is only a small step to creating a glocaliz ed brand image. When the ubiquity of Starbucks stores and coffee consumption common place and accepted in China, it will then establish its foothold in the country and its culture. Regulation pro vides a premise for the meaning constructions in each moment On the organizational level, t he corporations were able to enter the local market with local to form joint venture in Yunnan ( Stynes 2012). The joint venture enables Starbuck s coffee, thus speeding up the localization process. Being able to brew and sell locally prod uced coffee again diminishes its Western identity, further changing its representation and cultural formation. On the local and cultural level, however, regulation controls the cultural flow and provides a lens through which the cultural meanings are negot iated and created.


70 Implications This study examines the rela tionships among all the moments in the circuit of culture by analyzing the production of coffee culture in China, a phenomenon that is culturally sensitive and meaningful. Conclusions drawn fro m the qualitative data suggest how consumers view the cultural nuances between tea and coffee and as well as the construction of Starbucks brandscape from a cultural perspective. These cultural perception s, particularly the themes, have practical implication s for coffee corporations such as Starbucks as well as other Western corporations who wish to do business in China In Starbucks s determine both its arbucks is trying to expand in China, transferring from first tier cities to second tier cities where buying power is lower and more traditional culture is preserved, it will need to take into account of the cultural nuances. While consumers in the second tier cities may be more willing to purchase initially due to its novelty and global characteristics, as well as their own petty bour geois sentiment, they may be more culturally sensitive than their counterparts in major cities. T he theme novelty suggests t hat Starbucks consumers were initially intrigued by the newness of the coffee brand. However, this meaning is negotiated and informed by the contexts. It is there fore not static and subject to change in the future This poses a potential challenge for Star bucks once the consumers pass the first phase of reading the brand as a novelty. T hough Starbucks is now attempting t o expand to the second tier cities where consumers still view it as a novelty, it will inevitably have to


71 face the phase when Starbucks bec ome the status quo in the Chinese market. It will then have to refine its strategies accordingly. Furthermore, the theme rhythm of life suggests that Chinese consumers perceive Starbucks to be part of the fast food chains, which makes it even more difficu lt to position itself. The relaxation and leisure lifestyle reflected in the theme socialization contradicts with the fast pace d life style shown in the theme rhythm of life Chinese consumers wish to enjoy freedom and leisurely social time in Starbucks ; th ey nonetheless feel the pressure from the outside world and include Starbuck s as part of their own busy lifestyle. This conflict of representation requires Starbucks to adjust how it present s itself in the future. The cosmopolitan theme, revealin g the thr ee levels of identity, individual, organizational and national (Curtin & Gaither, 2005) indicates how Starbucks should balance its ow n corporate identity as well as monitor how consumers will read it t ogether with their own identity construction on a personal and a national level, may determine how they perceive and consume the brand. As is shown in the above discussion, introducing entirely localized beverages to the local menu may not be a wise decisi on since Starbucks is nonetheless being viewed as a Western corporation. This preconception can hardly be decreased or repel led by bringing in traditional Chinese tea products, or by locating its stores in traditional districts. In fact, the act of combini ng Chinese folklores into its derivative products and Chinese ingredients into its coffee beverages seems to gain wide acceptance among the Chinese consumers. For example, although Chinese consumers responded favorably to Starbucks they may


72 delicate balance Starbucks must strike in proffering products tailored to local tastes without making local consumers feel offended or manipulated by the corporat ion. After all, Starbucks still represents an American corporation that sells customized fresh brew ed coffee. This is an important part of Starbucks B eing too agg ressive in its efforts to localize could be interpreted as disingenuous t o the local consumers who view Chinese nationality, represented by tea culture, as a crucial part of their personal identities Conversely, being too passive in its efforts to localize could be interpreted as insensitive by consumers for whom 6,000 years of cultural heritage is a salient component of personal identity. Its expansion and localization process must therefore take into consideration the changing perceptions and identities of its consumers The theme Xiaozi, as a unique culture in the Chinese society, also yields some implications for Starbucks The petty bourgeois label attached to Starbucks is a double edged sword. While Starbucks appeals to the yo ung er Chinese generation as a statement of rebellion or distinctiveness it bears negative connotations. As is shown in the findings, Starbucks is criticized for positioning itself as a high end product and its prices are seen as excessive As Starbucks coffee price s in China continue to rise ( Zheng & Pardomuan, 2011 ) this r epresentation may potentially lea d to anti corporate sentiments. There is an extent to which consumers are willing to pay a premium to maintain their current lifestyles but this willingness may be limited It is a dilemma of whether Starbucks should stren gthen the concept of the petty bourgeois lifestyle or vic e versa. To strengthen it, Starbucks may have to come up with


73 new ways to keep its loyal consumers and to attract its potential consumers. To diminish it, though not a favorable option given the curr ent situation, the corporation may have to reestablish its brand concept and reposition its products as more financially accessible Either way the corporation should pay attention to consumer reactions and take into consideration the social contexts. Al though this research primarily focuses on Starbucks coffee culture in China, it may also provide insights for other transnational corporations seeking to establish business in China. The Starbucks case brings up the issue of balancing between the corporati tity, a challenge that is faced by all transnational corporations. Whereas local consumers find the foreign concept appeal ing and incorporate it as part of their identities, they still consider their own nati onal identities as a p riority. Being Chinese and preservin g the Chinese tradition takes up a large portion of their identity. Therefore, foreign brands that wish to appeal to Chinese consumers should also adjust their corporate identities accordingly. While introduction of a ne w product may attract consumers with its novelty, it also requires a Chinese identity in the long run. However, original corporate identity since the new identity (i.e., the glocalized identity) is what consumers aspire to. Furthermore, results of this research offer insights as to what kind of lifestyles the younger Chinese generations would like to be associated with. This is a social group that consumes products for the meanings attac hed, occa sionally regardless of practical el ements such as prices and utility To enrich and nurture the meanings associated with a certain brand or product then becomes the key to grab this attentions. With the circuit of culture framework, the findin gs in this


74 research may apply to other countries as well. The cultural nuances and the issue of glocalization is a permanent theme faced by all transnational corporations. In addition to implications for the transnational corporations, this research also provides i mplications for the circuit of culture model Building on previous research on the theory, this research also shows that the mome nts in the circuit of culture are difficult to be dismantled and compartmentalized when it comes to application and a nalysis. Besides, it is more difficul t to distinguish among the moments since cultural meanings are created through all five moments and their interactions However, this research in dicates that it would be possible to analyze the meaning creation c ircuit as a whole in each theme In general, the cultural contradiction, though seemingly minor, is extremely crucial for other transnational corporations trying to establish their brand concept and reputation in a foreign country. Investigating the subtle cultur al distinctions of how consumers view Starbucks development in the country. Furthermore, the circuit of culture, utilizing the five moments to analyze the cultural perception s associated with a brand, prove s to be a very effective and productive analyzing tool. Limitations and Recommendations for Future Research While the research offers insights into the production of coffee culture in China under the framework of circuit of culture, it has limitations reg arding the method and sampling. First, the choice of focus groups and in depth interviews as primary methods may yield some limitations. Whereas qualitative research methods could provide e resu lt cannot speak for the all coffee drinkers in China Additionally, the study only focused on a


75 subgroup of population in China and thus their views and attitudes cannot represent the entire population. The discussions elicited from the focus groups and the individual quotations from the in depth interview are experiences. Furthermore, given the nature of focus groups, participants may be s. The tendency may be more prominent in this study since avoiding conflicts and different opinions are stressed in Chinese culture, especially among strangers. Therefore, participants may simply swell with the chorus during the focus group discussions even when they are holding different opinion s, thus concealing different voices and disagreements. Using instant communication tools such as Skype for the interviews also yields some issu es. Since most participants cho se to do the interview with only voice chat, it compromised important non verbal c ues during the interview. Additi onally, this study only examined one small segment of the booming Chinese market and its consumers. As far as marketing and branding is concerned, cultural nuance is always an important issue for transnational corporations t rying to establish business in foreign lands. Besides, the case in China is particularly noteworthy for Western corporations. Wang (2008), in the preface of her book on branding and marketing in China, suggested that the future advertising research in Chin a should challenge the conventional content analysis approach and focus more on production p. xii). Additionally she proposed a break through of the traditional dichotomies existed between local and global as well as consumers and producers, bringing cultural studies into advertising


76 research. The framework of the circuit of culture, as a cultural model, brings tog ether all the interactive moment s both global and local, consumers and producers in the loop, including the corporate sector, media and consumers. There fore this study also shed light on how qualitative cultural studies can be utilized for transnational co rporations. As culture is becoming increasing ly important in branding and marketing activities of transnational corporations, future research could look into other culturally sensitive areas by employ ing the models of cultural studies. Conclusion Despite focusing primarily on the coffee culture phenomenon in contemporary China, this study investigates the production of culture through the perspectives from advertising, corporation and cultural studies. The issue under study is placed within the intersectio n of all sectors, including media, corporation, advertising industry as well as the consumers. Relating all the ab ove concepts, this study intended to provide a better F indings show ed that Chinese consumers generally see coffee culture as young, social, foreign, unconventional, representing the fast rhythm of city life and bourgeois lifestyle and closely related with the few coffee brands. Starbucks as a highly acknowled ged coffee brand among the Chinese consumers, creates a brandscape that fits well into the circuit of culture model. expe c meeting the expectations that it has created. Additionally, results also show ed that


77 r own identity in consuming the product have a greater impact on the formation of culture. All in all, this study intended to examine the production of coffee culture in China with the five moment s in the circuit of culture model. By analyzing the product ion of culture, this study indicated that cultural studies could be well integrated into adv e rtising research. It also sought to motivate corporations to look more into the cultural nuances o marketing and branding in a foreign country.


78 APPENDIX A FOCUS GROUP INFORMED CONSENT Participation Consent Dear Participants: I am a graduate student at the University of Florida. As part of my coursework I am conducting a focus group study, the purpo se of which is to learn about how Chinese perceive coffee culture. Interviewees will be asked to participate in a group discussion lasting no longer than 2 hours. The schedule of questions is enclosed with this letter. The discussion and interview will be conducted in Chinese. You will not have to answer any question you do not wish to answer. With your permission I would like to record this focus group discussion. Only I will have access to the tape, which I will personally transcribe, removing any identif iers during transcription. The recorded data will then be erased. Your identity will be kept confidential to the extent provided by law and your identity will not be revealed in the final manuscript. There are no anticipated risks, compensation or other di rect benefits to you as a participant in this focus group You are free to withdraw your consent to participate and may discontinue your participation in the interview at any time without consequence. If you have any questions about this research protocol, please contact me at 1 (352) 213 7909 or my faculty supervisor, Lisa Duke Cornell, 1 (352) 392 0447. Questions or concerns about your rights as a research participant rights may be directed to the IRB02 office, University of Florida, Box 112250, Gainesvil le, FL 32611; (352) 392 0433. Please sign and return this copy of the letter in the enclosed envelope. A second copy is provided for your records. By signing this letter, you give me permission to


79 report your responses anonymously in the final manuscript t o be submitted to my faculty supervisor as part of my course work. Xiaochen Zhang___________________________________________________ I have read the procedure described above for the independent study. I voluntarily agree to participate in the focus group and I have received a copy of this description. ____________________________ Signature of participant ___________ Date I would like to receive a copy of the final "interview" manuscript submitted to the instructor. __ YES / NO __


8 0 APPENDIX B IN DEPTH INTERVIE W INFORMED CONSENT Participation Consent Dear Participants: I am a graduate student at the University of Florida. As part of my coursework I am conducting an in depth interview study, the purpose of which is to learn about how Chinese perceive coffee cult ure. Interviewees will be invited to a personal interview lasting no longer than 1 hour The schedule of questions is enclosed with this letter. The interview will be conducted in Chinese. You will not have to answer any question you do not wish to answer. With your permission I would like to record this interview Only I will have access to the tape, which I will personally transcribe, removing any identifiers during transcription. The recorded data will then be erased. Your identity will be kept confident ial to the extent provided by law and your identity will not be revealed in the final manuscript. There are no anticipated risks, compensation or other direct benefits to you as a participant in this interview. You are free to withdraw your consent to part icipate and may discontinue your participation in the interview at any time without consequence. If you have any questions about this research protocol, please contact me at 1 (352) 213 7909 or my faculty supervisor, Lisa Duke Cornell, 1 (352) 392 0447. Qu estions or concerns about your rights as a research participant rights may be directed to the IRB02 office, University of Florida, Box 112250, Gainesville, FL 32611; (352) 392 0433. Please sign and return this copy of the letter in the enclosed envelope. A second copy is provided for your records. By signing this letter, you give me permission to


81 report your responses anonymously in the final manuscript to be submitted to my faculty supervisor as part of my course work. Xiaochen Zhang_______________________ ____________________________ I have read the procedure described above for the independent study. I voluntarily agree to participate in the focus group and I have received a copy of this description. ____________________________ Signature of participant __ _________ Date I would like to receive a copy of the final "interview" manuscript submitted to the instructor. __ YES / NO __


82 APPENDIX C INTERVIEW GUIDE: FOC US GROUP (ENGLISH) Question 1 Please tell us your name and a bit about yourself (e.g., your major, w hat you enjoy doing in spare time, etc.). Question 2 What is the first image/picture that come to your mind when talking about coffee culture? (Can you remember what it was that influenced this perception?) Question 3 What was your first coffee experience ? What happened? Question 4 Can you describe a negative or positive coffee experience that was most memorable? (What do you enjoy most about coffee, or vice versa?) Question 5 How do you think coffee has changed your life? (What would your life be like wit hout coffee?) Question 6 Describe a lifestyle associate with coffee. Question 7 [If time allows, repeat question 2 6, change coffee into tea] What do you think of coffee culture when comparing with tea culture? (If mentioning the difference) What do you t hink is the difference in values? Would you address coffee as Question 8 What do you think of the coffee culture in China nowadays compared Question 9 [M oderator gives a brief summary of the discussion] Did I correctly described what was said? Question 10


83 APPENDIX D INTERVIEW GUIDE: IN DEPTH INTERVIEW (ENG LISH) Question 1 What is the first i mage/picture that come to your mind when talking about coffee culture? 1.1 Can you give a more detailed description of that? 1.2 Can you remember what it was that influenced this perception? Question 2 What was your first coff ee experience? What happened? 2.2 How did you feel about it then? Question 3 What is your favorite kind of coffee? 3.1 (If there is) You mentioned ... when do you drink it? Where? what do you like about it? 3.2 most likely to try out? Question 4 What would your life be like without coffee? Question 5 What do you think of coffee culture when comparing with tea culture? 5.1 Wh en do you usually have tea and coffee? 5.2 Can you elaborate that further in detail? 5.3 (If mentioning the difference) What do you think is the difference in values? 5.4 drink? Question 6 What kind of people would be most likely to consume coffee? Could you describe? 6 .1 What kind of environment would it be?


84 Question 7 What do you think of Starbucks? 7 .1 (If positive view) What do you like a bout it in particular? 7 .2 (If negative view) Where did you get that view? Question 8 Describe one of your Starbucks experience (either negative or positive). Question 9 What would you most likely to associate Starbucks with? 9 .1 What kind of people would be most likely to consume Starbucks coffee? Could you describe? 9 .2 What kind of environment would it be? Question 1 0 Have you heard of the Starbucks boycott incident in the Forbidden City in Beijing in 2 007? What do you think of it? Question 1 1 Anything else you would like to share? Do you have any comments?


85 APPENDIX E INTERVIEW GUIDE: FOC US GROUP (CHINESE) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 [ 1 2 ] 8 9 [ ] 10


86 APPENDIX F INTERVIEW GUIDE: IN DEPTH INTERVIEW (CHI NESE) 1 1.1 1.2 2 2.2 3 3.1 ( ) ... 3.2 ( ) 4 5 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 6 6.1 7 7.1 ( ) 7.2 ( ) 8 ( ).


87 9 9.1 9.2 ? 10 2007 11


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96 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Xiaochen Zhang was born in 1988 and grew up in Beijing, China. She graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University in 2010 with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and a minor in English Language and Literature. In the same year, she began her study at the College of Journalism and Communications at the University of Florida with a specialization in In tercultural Communication. Xiaochen graduated from University of Florida with a Master of Arts in Mass Communication in 2012.