The Americanization of China: how far are you from Starbucks?
We had the pleasure of entertaining friends from Lanzhou earlier, one of whom is originally from the Boston area (if you're from there, think Merrimack NH). The former Bostonian mentioned how much he missed Starbucks, McDonalds, and basically something different from the diet he was enjoying in Lanzhou. He came to Beijing and seemed refreshed after a few days' worth of lattes.
I have observed that in Beijing, you're usually about a mile away from a Starbucks, McDonalds, KFC or some other fast food joint. Also, on the consumer front, you're about a 1/2 mile away from a store that sells some American consumer product, like Legos, or Motorola phones or something. On the German front, maybe you're about 5 miles away from a BMW, Porsche, Audi, VW dealership, and 1/2 mile from a store selling a German toy.
I don't think that it's all that interesting that in Shanghai or Beijing, with lots of foreigners/westerners, that American, German or western things are available to westerners. What might be interesting is how far interior China is from these types of products, and whether or not they want them. The view from Lanzhou was that there were at least 2 KFCs in town. Pondering when Lanzhou, Ningxia, Xining and any other place not Beijing/Shanghai would get more of these products is something else entirely.
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