CCTV Reports Starbucks Prices Higher in China, Chinese Reactions

A Chinese Starbucks employee hands out free samples.

A Chinese Starbucks employee hands out free samples.

China’s state-broadcaster CCTV recently aired a report on the international coffee chain Starbucks charging higher prices in China than in other markets. Due to its reach, this of course received a lot of attention online as well. On China’s most popular microblogging platform, Sina Weibo, there is currently a “Starbucks Pricing Controversy” trending topic.

Of this trending topic, the third most popular weibo post is by the official CCTV account, with over 11k reshares/forwards, nearly 8k comments, and over 2k upvotes…

From Sina Weibo:

@央视新闻: Today’s Topic: Why is Starbucks Coffee in China More Expensive Than Other Countries? — Recently, the issue of Starbucks Coffee prices has received attention. Some customers discovered that its prices in our country are much higher than in the United States and Europe. An insider exposed that the cost of materials for every cup of latte is less than 4 yuan, while the sale price in China reaches as high as many tens of yuan! It’s the same cup of coffee, so why is the profit margin this high in China? Tune in today on the news channel!

CCTV Sina Weibo promotes its investigative report into Starbucks pricing in China compared to other countries.

Comments on this microblog post on Sina Weibo:


The rent is expensive. [哈哈]


Everything is expensive once it comes to China.


Chinese people are too rich.


Brand effect.


Lots of foolish/stupid money.


China’s commodity/material prices are high, rents are expensive, so their must be an increase in costs.


Lot’s of foolish/stupid money amongst Chinese people, easier to cheat.


Because taxes in the Heavenly Kingdom are high.


It’s the brand, it’s because it’s imported.


In China, what isn’t sold that is expensive?


The same reinforced concrete, so why is China’s housing prices so expensive?


Different marketing strategy, different market positioning. No one regulated that there be one price worldwide.

A Starbucks store in China with distinctive Chinese architecture.

The second most popular is also a CCTV weibo, published a few hours later, with nearly 65k reshares/forwards, nearly 29k comments, and over 3k upvotes…

From Sina Weibo:

@央视新闻: #Starbucks Coffee Pricing Investigation# The Price of a 354ml Medium Cup Latte — At a Starbucks in Beijing, the selling price for a 354ml cafe latte: 27 yuan RMB; at a Starbucks in London, UK, the selling price for a 354ml cafe latte: 24.25 yuan RMB; at a Starbucks in Chicago, USA, the selling price for a 354ml cafe latte: 19.98 yuan RMB; at a Starbucks in Mumbai, India, the selling price for a 354ml cafe latte: 14.6 yuan RMB. What do you think?

Comments on this microblog post on Sina Weibo:


The people are stupid but have too much money.


How much does storefront rents account for?


Just ripping off Chinese people.


I agree with this, investigate them, and strive for price reductions.


That’s why I never go to Starbucks to buy coffee.


China, where the poeple are stupid and have too much money…


[Some people just] like to be poseur cunts [by drinking Starbucks].


Why are Chinese people’s money so easy to earn?


Lots of foolish money, [because] who without money would go to there?


It’s clearly because they feel it’s easy to bully Chinese people of their RMB.


No choice! Drinking coffee is ubiquitous amongst Indians, so if Starbucks was even more expensive, they’d have no business.


Heh heh! I’m a school tyrant [student] and only drink instant [coffee]!


Why is it so cheap for Indians?


Let the market adjust it.

Temporary storefront advertising the opening of a Starbucks in China.

In comparison, the top weibo in the trending topic has over 76k reshares/forwards, over 24k comments, and notably over 38k upvotes. It is made by Chinese netizen and internet celebrity @作业本 (literally “homework booklet”, real name Sun Jie) who has over 7 million fans/followers, more than many actual entertainment industry stars…

From Sina Weibo:

@作业本: Purchasing the most expensive housing in the world, driving the most expensive cars in the world, filling up with the fastest rising gasoline prices, eating the least safe food in the world, enjoying medical care where most families can be bankrupted by one serious illness, using an internet that is simultaneously expensive and slow and disgusting, posting microblogs [in a country] that “receives the most express delivery parcels” in the world [referring to intimidation visits by authorities due to online speech]… These you completely turn a blind eye to and yet you come tell me that a cup of coffee I drink less than five times a year is the most expensive coffee in the world? That’s interesting!

Comments on this microblog post on Sina Weibo:


I saw this passage in my politics textbook today–Our country’s constitution stipulates that all the power in the People’s Republic of China belongs to the people. Just looking at this I laughed.




Wasn’t 作业本’s weibo [account] deleted?




Time for your water meter to be checked. [嘻嘻]


Once again you’re asking for your water meter to be checked. [Jokingly refers to authorities visiting you pretending to check your water meter but actually to intimidate you for comments made online.]


Hahahahahaha, so there are still people who watch TV in this day and age.


Open the door, you have an express delivery package! [Another variation of the “water meter” joke.]


Haven’t drank in so many years now, truly expensive.


The path our country takes is that of socialism with Chinese characteristics! It is the only way to save China!


I drink it less than once a year.


So incisive/penetrating.


Stupid reporters.


Yeah, and is reporting it going to result in lowering the price?


Two words: “he he”. Starbucks, who did you offend~~~?


Recently, the Heavenly Kingdom Channel [CCTV] has attacked/targeted Apple then Samsung and now wants to attack Starbucks. Such high level attacks.


While watching this news, waves of grass mud horses surged forth in my heart!!! I approve/upvote with fury!


They want you to scrimp and save, and use your money on buying a house/home.


Exactly, such a joke! They don’t [report on] practical/real problems [挖鼻屎] They’re hopeless.


CCTV clearly wants to give Starbucks trouble…


Otherwise what else can they report on? In China, everything that is relevant to the people’s lives are now sensitive topics.


We must be fenqing, but also fenqing with thoughts and ideals.


Instead of reporting on life’s necessities, they mobilize their worldwide journalists and resources to report on coffee. [睡觉]


You may not drink it, but there are people who do.


The [government] leaders drink Starbucks and resent it being expensive.


Fooling us low classes, diverting attention, and firmly believing that our IQs are zero.


Selective blindness.


Attacking Starbucks~ Also indirectly showing that their big TV channel has journalists stationed in various places throughout the world~


CCAV thinks all of China’s citizens are local tyrants [the ostentatious wealthy].

Chinese people drinking Starbucks.


Written by Fauna

Fauna is a mysterious young Shanghainese girl who lives in the only place a Shanghainese person would ever want to live: Shanghai. In mid-2008, she started chinaSMACK to combine her hobby of browsing Chinese internet forums with her goal of improving her English. Through her tireless translation of popular Chinese internet news and phenomenon, her English has apparently gotten dramatically better. At least, reading and writing-wise. Unfortunately, she's still not confident enough to have written this bio, about herself, by herself.


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