All the ‘Coffee’ in China: Starbucks Moving East

Starbucks, the giant coffee purveyor, is planning on adding an additional 12,000 stores to their existing 25,000 within the next five years. Luckily for people who like to see other stores besides those that sell coffee, not all of the additional 12,000 are going to be in Manhattan. As a matter of fact, only half are going to be built in either the US or China.

But if you really do like coffee and were even slightly worried that you might need to walk more than 30 seconds from wherever you may be to get your mandatory Caramel Brulée Latte, you can rest at ease now. As CEO Howard Schultz puts it:

“These are the early days of the growth and development of the company. If Starbucks was a 20-chapter book, I still think we’re in chapter 4 or 5.”

“Demand is there, and our ability to deploy capital and get the return on invested capital is very strong,” Starbucks President and COO Kevin Johnson said.

The fabulously successful company discussed their business plans at an investor day even in New York City last week. Schultz reassured his shareholders that:

“Our core business has never been stronger in the U.S. and around the world.”

Starbucks has its eye on the enormous potential market in China.

“Not only will China one day be bigger than the U.S., but our business in China will demonstrate that we will be one of the…most significant winners in terms of a Western consumer brand,” he said.

Business Schools Could Lose Overseas Students in President Trump America

Until the election of Donald Trump to become the US president beginning in early 2017, US business schools were a desirable option for students from overseas looking to earn an MBA. Now some of these prospective students are reconsidering US business schools as an option.

“I want to be able to work in the country where I study after graduation,” one marketing executive from India said. “So it is important to be in a place that is immigrant-friendly.”

US business school deans are hopeful that this prospective student is not the sign of a trend.

Douglas Skinner, dean of the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business says he is “cautiously optimistic,” about the backlash from a Trump presidency. He pointed out that even if the economy was to stall, (something he does not think will happen,) domestic demand for MBA places would rise, since that is the trend when jobs are more scarce.

But Skinner is afraid that the threatened proposals to immigration will seriously effect enrollment in his school’s MBA program. More than one-third of the full-time students attending the Chicago Booth School of Business come from overseas.

“If there was a restriction on visas to students that would clearly be somewhat harmful to us,” Prof Skinner says. He adds that other schools are even more dependent on students from abroad than Booth is.

The Ultra-Orthodox World Hits Hollywood

It’s not every day that Israeli television makes it into the American news. But recently, Marta Kauffman, producer of the outrageously popular “Friends,” has announced that she will be producing a US remake of the Israel TV drama “Shtisel.” Certainly “Shtisel,” and its focus on the Ultra-Orthodox Shtisel family in Jerusalem, doesn’t seem like a theme that will grab America’s attention.

Hollywood seems to disagree. In 2003, Daniel Taub created and wrote “The Rebbe’s Court” which was a series focused on the lives of members of a Hassidic dynasty in Tel Aviv. Until Daniel Taub’s portrayal, most depictions of the ultra-orthodox were stereotypical and two-dimensional. Daniel Taub discussed the challenges that he faced when writing the show as he said,

“The producers wanted me to put some secular characters center stage for the largely secular audience to identify with. I insisted that the goal was to bring the viewers to connect emotionally with people from a very different world, and thankfully we were able to do this.”

Taub’s series was eventually bought and broadcast by Channel 10 and was a hit with both the secular public and the ultra-orthodox. As Daniel Taub explained, “In one episode of the series, a secular song is sung by one of the actors at a Shabbat meal. I was surprised to learn from one Hassid that this was now a regular Shabbat song in his community.”

Since this groundbreaking work, “Almost Touching,” “Kathmandu” and “Shtisel” have all become hits. Such hits, it seems, that America is now gearing up for their own “Shtisel” with a top Hollywood producer. Wonders never cease.

 

 

China Tightening Control of Cyberspace

Derivative work courtesy of yumenghan
Derivative work courtesy of yumenghan

As of November 7, 2016, a new Cybersecurity Law was proposed which will help strengthen the Chinese government’s ability to enforce existing practices, while introducing new requirements that will make it harder for companies and individuals to operate freely online.

The law will require internet companies such as instant messaging services and others to register using their real names and personal information. They will also have to censor content that the state deems “prohibited.” Forcing people to use their real names suppresses anonymity and promotes self-censorship for online communication.

Another aspect of the new law requires data localization which forces “critical information infrastructure operators” to store their data within the borders of China. One group which is opposed to the legislation, Human Rights Watch, says the law does not state a clear definition of these “infrastructure operators” and they fear many businesses could be lumped together into the definition.

“The law will effectively put China’s Internet companies, and hundreds of millions of Internet users, under greater state control,” said Sophie Richardson, Human Rights Watch’s China director.

Richardson of HRW also worries that now that the laws are being implemented more broadly this will lead to stricter enforcement than has been seen in the past.

Censorship is not the only issue worrying people concerned with freedom in China. Companies will be required to report “network security incidents” to the government. They will also have to let consumers know about security breaches, and must provide “technical support” to government agencies when they are investigating security breaches. But “technical support” is not well-defined, leaving room for companies to give encryption backdoors and other surveillance assistance to the government.

Even more worrisome is that the Cybersecurity Law makes criminal several types of content, including content that “encourages the overthrow of the socialist system,” “fabricating or spreading false information to disturb economic order,” or “inciting separatism or damage national unity.”

“If online speech and privacy are a bellwether of Beijing’s attitude toward peaceful criticism, everyone — including netizens in China and major international corporations — is now at risk,” said Richardson. “This law’s passage means there are no protections for users against serious charges.”

Larger Women Growing as a Fashion Market Force

Plus-sizes and straight sizes will soon be sharing a rack.
Plus-sizes and straight sizes will soon be sharing a rack.

Armed with the knowledge that larger women control a large and growing chunk of the fashion sector pie, clothing retailers are beginning to understand how to lure this market and boost sales.

The first step is perhaps surprising: to eliminate the so-called “Plus-size” section of the women’s clothing department and mainstream sizes 16 and above into the center of the sales floor.

Meijer Inc, a Michigan-based retailer, has already made the switch in 15 of its 230 stores, placing the extended sizes on the same racks as the “straight sizes.” Their goal is to have the plus size section fully integrated into the straight sizes department in all of their stores by early 2017. The result will be that the majority of their fashion offerings will come in all sizes; from small to XXXL.

“We really felt all customers should have the exact same experience at Meijer,” said Annette Repasch, vice president of Softlines. “Not only by style, but by price and by location.”

Repasch added that until now the fast majority of plus-size fashion was conservative, and being relegated to the back of the store made the shopping experience less enjoyable for this sector of consumers.

The plus-size consumer is a growing segment of the market, according to a new study conducted by International Journal of Fashion Design, Technology and Education. They found that the the average American woman wears a size 16-18, up from a size 14 not too long ago. The NPD Group says that spending on plus-size clothing will reach and estimated $20.4 billion this year. That is an increase of 17 percent from 2013 and is outpacing the overall US apparel market by twice. The NPD Group also estimates that the percentage of teens purchasing plus-size clothing will reach 34 percent. In 2012 that number was 19 percent.