Mar 1, 2013

Vietnam - Starbucks doesn’t see Trung Nguyen a rival

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VietNamNet Bridge – While some businessmen call Dang Le Nguyen Vu, the owner of Trung Nguyen coffee brand a “Vietnamese pride” because he dares to “challenge the US Starbucks to a duel,” others say Vu should prove his ability by his business results, not by boasting.

The US Starbucks coffee chain officially joined the Vietnamese market on February 1 by opening its first shop in HCM City.

When John Culver, Starbucks’ President in China, Asia – Pacific, announced Starbucks would set foot in the Vietnamese market, Vu sniggered, saying that Starbucks does not deserve to be a rival to Trung Nguyen.

“Some people may go to Starbucks because they want to prove that they are modern and stylish. However, those who are the connoisseurs in coffee, would come to Trung Nguyen,” Vu said.

Not only making the impressive statements, Vu frankly sneered at US Starbucks. "They (Starbucks) are great at implanting a story in consumers' minds, but if we look into the core elements of Starbucks, what they are doing is terrible. They are not selling coffee, they are selling coffee-flavored water with sugar in it," he said when giving an interview to a Reuters’ reporter when he was in Switzerland.

Especially, Vu believes that the success of Starbucks lies in the display technology, not in the quality of products.

While Vu does not spare any opportunity to criticize Starbucks on mass media, the US giant has not made any replies. It simply has said that Starbucks does not think Trung Nguyen is its rival.

“Starbucks consider them (Trung Nguyen – reporter) as the like-minded friends. Imagine what will happen if only Starbucks exists in the world. It would be very boring. But things would be quite different if there are also the friends like Trung Nguyen,” said Nguyen The Khoa, the commercial manager of Starbucks Vietnam.

“I am also a Vietnamese, and my family members also grow coffee. Therefore, I would applaud Vu’s plan to bring Vietnam’s coffee to the world market. However, instead of calling us the “rival,” he could consider us the friends,” Khoa said.

Meanwhile, Vu Quoc Tuan, Public Relations Director of Nestle Vietnam, when asked about the presence of Starbucks in Vietnam, simply said that the principle Nestle follows is that it would not make comments about the rivals.

“It’s the business culture of the big companies that they never make comments about the rivals. It is also the principle of Nestle or Starbucks,” Tuan said.

“As you may see, though Trung Nguyen has given bad comments about Starbucks’ products, Starbucks still keeps quiet about Trung Nguyen. And you would see that they (Starbucks) would not say something like “your coffee is bad,” or “our cafes are better.” They would never do this,” he continued.

While local newspapers warned about a “war” to occur in Vietnam, Tuan said the word is unsuitable in the context. In a war, some people would kill others. Meanwhile, in this case, all the market members still can co-exist.

“Apple and Microsoft are also the rivals, but they still have been developing well,” Tuan said.

Vu Vinh Phu, Chair of the Hanoi Supermarket Chain, agrees that Vu’s statement could be seen as a behavior of conducting unhealthy competition, because Vu has defamed Starbucks.

Local newspapers have also published some comments by big businessmen who say it’s always easier said than done.


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