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October 29, 2004

Starbucks: A passage to India

After caffeinating China, the coffee chain has its sights set on yet another tea-drinking nation.
October 28, 2004: 2:23 PM EDT
By Parija Bhatnagar, CNN/Money staff writer

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Who says coffee isn't everybody's cup of tea? Just ask Starbucks chairman Howard Schultz.

Here's an example: Seattle, Wash.-based Starbucks took on a formidable tea-drinking nation when it made a foray into China, opening its first cafe on the mainland in 1999.

"China traditionally has been a tea-drinking country but we turned them into coffee drinkers," Schultz told a gathering of analysts earlier this month.

Today, the company operates 8,000 cafes worldwide, including over 100 locations in China. Its long-term expansion goal is to have 30,000 cafes worldwide.

India, on pace to become the most populous country in the world after China, produces the most tea in the world and also consumes the most tea.

Strangely enough, India could be next on Starbucks' list of hot new markets for gourmet coffee outside of the United States.

But maybe not for another two to three years, according to Martin Coles, president of Starbucks (Research) Coffee International.

"India is an important long-term growth opportunity in the Asia/Pacific region," said Coles. "We're approaching the Indian market in a thoughtful way and it's important for us to be observers of the Indian market first."

Both India and China are still small players in terms of domestic coffee consumption. China has one of the world's smallest coffee markets whereas India ranks 36th out of 53 nations with the most sales of packaged coffee, according to market research firm ACNielsen. The United States tops the list, followed by Germany, France, Japan and Italy.

However, patterns are shifting in India and China due in part to changing consumer aspirations and a keenness to indulge in the "Western" experience.

Local Indian cafe bars like Barista say they're confident customers will stay loyal even if Starbucks comes knocking. (A wall poster in a Barista cafe in India)

"Our point of entry in China was different. Consumers weren't initially drawn to Starbucks for the coffee but for the opportunity to socialize outside of the home," said Christine Day, president of Starbucks Asia Pacific Group. Said Day, "India is a tea-based culture. We're not saying coffee is a substitute. We're saying Starbucks is a place to hang out, to eat and drink, to see and be seen."

Starbucks captured a niche market early in China. It's a slightly different story in India, where a coffee revolution has been quietly brewing and the retailer may already have lost the first-mover advantage.


Battle of the Baristas
Industry reports suggest that India's nascent gourmet coffee market holds the potential for 5,000 cafes over the next 5 years.

New Delhi-based Barista Coffee Company opened its first "coffee bar" in India four years ago. Today it operates 130 cafes around the country, which bear an uncanny resemblance to Starbucks.

The company is quick to dismiss any comparisons.

"Our inspiration was the traditional Italian Espresso bars where the idea is to create a 'home away from home," said Brotin Banerjee, vice president of marketing with Barista.

India's Barista cafes offer similar gourmet coffee drinks to Starbucks and Wi-Fi access in a handful of locations. Barista's menu features everything from a latte to cappuccino, caramel cafe, cafe mocha, flavored coffee and deserts like brownies and cakes. The company also recently introduced Wi-Fi access in 35 locations. Music downloads could be next. Sound familiar? Regular patrons at Barista are students and young professionals 18 to 35 years old. "With the liberalization of the economy, there are a large number of young Indians with good jobs and attractive incomes," said Banerjee. "Many still live with their parents. So their income is largely disposable and they need to spend it on something. Why not on gourmet coffee?"

Which explains why the average cost of coffee at Barista is nearly 10 times that of a local restaurant's. Barista estimates double-digit growth going forward, citing its unique concept in India and its leadership position.

At the same time, the company is keeping tabs on Starbucks. "We've been hearing about them coming [to India] for the last 3 to 4 years. We don't know why they're not here yet. If they do come, we still believe we have a number of factors to our advantage."

Barista already has a brand identity and customer loyalty. "We also have the prime locations in big metro cities."

Not so fast, says Starbucks. "Without sounding arrogant, we're looking at our own strategy. There's nothing that keeps us from doing business in India," said Starbucks' Cole. No doubt, like other international companies, Starbucks is keen to tap into India's burgeoning middle class market of 200 million people.

"From an economic and cultural standpoint, India is unique," Cole said. "We believe there is a growing affinity for global brands, particularly among the middle class."

However, unlike its domestic approach where its stores are largely company-owned, government regulations in India will require Starbucks to either form joint ventures with local players or create franchise operations.

Apparently that's not an issue, said Coles, since the company faced a similar hurdle in China and opted for the joint venture route.

For critics who say a $3.50 cup of Starbucks coffee is unlikely to win over fans immediately in a country where the average per capita income per month among India's vast middle class population is about $680 a month -- well -- Barista has proven that's not the case.

Nevertheless, industry watchers speculate Starbucks would probably adjust its pricing strategy somehwat to better adapt to the Indian market.

"Starbucks has learned several lessons in China. One is that it really doesn't need to go after the masses," said Matthew Difrisco, analyst with Harris Nesbitt. "All it needs is the upper 10 percent of India's booming middle class to support a base of 100 stores and then go from there."

05:48 AM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

October 28, 2004

Statistic of the week

Nearly one in four doctors in the UK is mentally ill. A 12-year study has found that 22 per cent of doctors who participated were suffering from a basic mental disorder by the age of 30. Interestingly, researchers from University College London, who carried out the study, found that the doctors' neurotic tendencies were linked to their personalities rather than from work pressures. So people who are first mad then become doctors. . .

(Source: The Times, 18 August 2004).

05:07 AM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

October 27, 2004

Parkinson's - The forgotten drug

Researchers are getting excited about a drug that used to be given to patients with early-stage Parkinson's, but which was suddenly dropped.

The drug, selegiline, is in the family known as monoamine oxidase type B inhibitors that had been used since the 1980s to slow the progress of the disease.

The University of Birmingham has rediscovered selegiline after reviewing its use and efficacy in 17 trials, which involved a total of 3,525 patients.

Most patients showed improvements in mobility and general lifestyle activities compared with those on a placebo.

Better yet, the drug is cheap and readily available.

So why did it suddenly fall from fashion? Oh, it was something to do with a study in 1995 that found it killed 57 per cent of those taking it.

05:03 AM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 26, 2004

Funny Quotes

Evening news is where they begin with 'Good evening', and then proceed to tell you why it isn't.

There are three sides to any argument: your side, my side and the right side.

An consultant is someone who takes a subject you understand and makes it sound confusing

Never argue with a fool. People might not know the difference

When you're right, no one remembers. When you're wrong, no one forgets.

Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else

Everyone makes mistakes. The trick is to make mistakes when nobody is looking

They say hard work never hurts anybody, but why take the chance

I like work. It fascinates me. I sit and look at it for hours.

If you can't see the bright side of life, polish the dull side

Where there's a will, there are five hundred relatives, not to mention Inheritance Tax!!

Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die.

05:25 AM | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Breakthrough cancer drug

It has been just a few short months since Avastin (bevacizumab) was being hailed as the great new breakthrough drug for cancer therapy. It's the first drug designed to inhibit angiogenesis, the process by which new blood vessels develop and carry vital nutrients to a tumour. In other words, the drug starves the tumour.

The American drug agency, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), approved it in February as part of the treatment for cancer of the colon or rectum.

But in just five months of use, doctors have discovered the drug can cause stroke, heart attacks and angina, and can also double the risk of a fatal thrombosis.

Not that the drug was ever a day at the beach. When it was approved the FDA knew the drug could cause fatal stomach perforations, fatal hemorrhage, hypertension and congestive heart failure.

These new concerns must make Avastin one of the untouchables, but the new discoveries raise concerns about the efficacy and reliability of the pre-licensing clinical trials that too often miss adverse reactions that could even kill the patient.

It's not for the first time, when faced with these deadly therapies, that we've said we'd rather take our chances with the cancer.

(Source: Food and Drug Administration website).

05:02 AM in Science | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 25, 2004

Apples

Apples are a low calorie, low sodium, no fat, no cholesterol snack food.

They are also high in fiber.

The flesh of one medium apple provides 1.07 grams pectin, a soluble food fiber that appears to lower serum cholesterol.

The apple also has 2.03 grams lignin and cellulose; in-soluble food fibers that help bulk up stool, help prevent constipation, and, according to the American Cancer Society, may reduce your risk of colon cancer.

Apples also provide boron, a nutrient that increases the body’s absorption of calcium and may protect against osteoporosis. In 1989, researchers at the U.S.D.A. Agricultural Research Service in Grand Forks, North Dakota, estimated that adults need about 3.0mg boron a day, an amount easily obtained from two fresh apples. In 1989, scientists at the Horosaki University School of Medicine in Japan reported that people who eat three or more apples a day seem less likely to develop high blood pressure as they get older even if they consume (as most Japanese do) a diet rich in high sodium foods such as soy sauce.

Last but not least, apples store well. They will stay fresh and crisp for months in a cool dry cellar, providing fresh fruit all winter long. That may be why they have been considered health food for hundreds of years.

04:28 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 24, 2004

Classic Definitions & Cool Meanings

1. Cigarette : A pinch of tobacco rolled in paper with fire at one end & a fool at the other.

2. Love affairs : Something like cricket where one-day internationals are more popular than a five day test.

3. Marriage : It's an agreement in which a man loses his bachelor degree and a woman gains her masters

4. Divorce : Future tense of marriage

5. Lecture : An art of transferring information from the notes of the lecturer to the notes of the students without passing through "the minds of either".

6. Conference : The confusion of one man multiplied by the number present.

7. Compromise : The art of dividing a cake in such a way that everybody believes he got the biggest piece.

8. Tears : The hydraulic force by which masculine will-power is defeated by feminine water-power ..

9. Dictionary : A place where divorce comes before marriage and success before work..

10. Conference Room : A place where everybody talks, nobody listens & everybody disagrees later on.

11. Ecstasy : A feeling when you feel you are going to feel a feeling you have never felt before.

12. Classic : A book which people praise, but do not read.

13. Smile : A curve that can set a lot of things straight.

14. Office : A place where you can relax after your strenuous home life.

15. Yawn : The only time some married men ever get to open their mouth.

16. Etc. : A sign to make others believe that you know more than you actually do.

17. Committee: Individuals who can do nothing individually and sit to decide that nothing can be done together.

18. Experience : The name men give to their mistakes.

19. Atom Bomb: An invention to end all inventions.

20. Philosopher : A fool who torments himself during life, to be spoken of when dead.

21. Diplomat : A person who tells you to go to hell in such a way that you actually look forward to the trip.

22. Opportunist : A person who starts taking bath if he accidentally falls into a river.

23. Optimist : A person who while falling from Eiffel Tower says in midway "See I am not injured yet."

24. Pessimist :- A person who says that O is the last letter in ZERO, Instead of the first letter in word OPPORTUNITY.

25. Miser : A person who lives poor so that he can die rich.

26. Father : A banker provided by nature.

27. Criminal : A guy no different from the rest... except that he got caught.

28. Boss : Someone who is early when you are late and late when you are early.

29. Politician : One who shakes your hand before elections and your Confidence after.

30. Doctor : A person who kills your ills by pills, and kills you with his bills.

31. Engineer : One who gets paid for reading such mails......

04:26 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 20, 2004

Powers of Procrastination

My brother did me a huge favour the other day. Of course, nothing in life is free. To reciprocate, I was roped in to do some typing for him, which is due in at his school tomorrow. I fully intended to start it this afternoon, so that it could be finished and ready for him when he got home this evening.

But the best laid plans often have a way of going haywire. I had just turned on the computer when I realised that my room was looking slightly messy and concluded that I must tidy it up, as it would enable me to concentrate on the task at hand. So, it was decided that I should first clean my room. As I tidied my cupboard, I came across some old childhood photographs, which brought back a gush of bittersweet memories. To really get myself into the mood, I decided to play some songs from that era. As I looked through the songs on my computer, I realised that the songs in my playlist were in a haphazard order and that I really must sort them out into folders according to mood. As I commenced this, it occurred to me that I had left my Honour Among Thieves paperback in my car and must retrieve it, so that I could read it later on in the evening. As I dashed off to my car, I was intercepted by my grandmother who pointed out that since I was on my way out, I might as well buy those groceries she needed. So, off I went to buy her groceries. On my way, I ran into an old school friend whom I never bothered keeping in touch with because we simply had nothing in common. Apparently, distance does make the heart grow fonder. We talked about good (and bad times) for over an hour and parted with promises to stay in touch henceforth.

Once I retrived my paperback and purchased the groceries, I strolled home at a leisurely pace. Once home, I finished the sorting out the million songs I have accumulated (read illegally downloaded) on my computer and clearing up my room. At this point I realised that I hadn't updated my blog in two days and I really should get down to it.

So, here I am! Six hours down the line, I have managed not to complete the task I originally set out to do. However, my room is clean, my songs neatly sorted out according to mood (it really is a work of art!) and my grandmother has her groceries. Oh yeah, and my blog will be updated with this post shortly. I really should get down to my brother's typing - I did promise him that I would do it. But first, I think I'll read my book for a while...

03:04 PM in Personal | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack

October 18, 2004

Profound thoughts

It is easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend.
William Blake (1757 - 1827)

Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.
Leo Tolstoy (1828 - 1910)

Delusions of grandeur make me feel a lot better about myself.
Jane Wagner

Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery (1900 - 1944)

Do not do unto others as you would that they should do unto you. Their tastes may not be the same.
George Bernard Shaw (1856 - 1950), Man and Superman (1903), Maxims for Revolutionists

To err is human; to forgive, infrequent.
Franklin P. Adams (1881 - 1960)

Patience has its limits. Take it too far, and it's cowardice.
George Jackson (1941 - 1971)

We are generally the better persuaded by the reasons we discover ourselves than by those given to us by others.
Blaise Pascal (1623 - 1662)

12:58 PM in Culture | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Change of heart?

My brother just pointed out to me that my post of 17th October, My New Blog, makes me sound like I'm a kind and forgiving person, which obviously I am not!! So, to rest my conscience and his, I confess that when I found out that mblog had left me blogless, I did curse them continuously in a most unladylike fashion. The passage of time and the fact that I now have a new blog has led to my decision not to bear a grudge against mblog. Oh yeah, that and the fact that I can't actually take any action against them anyway. Thanks Mel, now that I have got that off my chest, I do feel like my old, evil self...

12:53 PM in Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack