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Vietnam's Coffee King Takes Aim at Starbucks

Posted by Dale Buss on November 12, 2012 02:06 PM

Vietnam is the world's second-biggest coffee exporter, a fact that probably comes as a surprise to most westerners. And now a local entrepreneur is hoping to leverage his country's crucial position as a commodity supplier into a value-added brand play the likes of Starbucks.

Dang Le Nguyen Vu, Vietnam's "Coffee King," seems to have no illusions about mimicking Starbucks overnight. But the owner of the Trung Nguyen brand of coffee told Reuters that he has the U.S. chain in his sights as a marketing model for Vietnam so that its brew and its brand — not just its beans — can have an impact.

"Our ambition is to become a global brand," he told the news service. His company already runs Vietnam's largest chai of coffee houses, and now he's hoping to build a brand that could get a foothold in the U.S. and other mature coffee markets.

Vu argues that Starbucks isn't real coffee — or real committed to its lofty corporate citizenship platform. He swipes at the bigger coffee purveyor to Reuters with the statement that "they are not selling coffee, they are selling coffee-flavored water with sugar in it." What's more, he adds, Starbucks is selling "a story." For all the coffee behemoth focuses on sustainability and corporate responsibility, "at the end of the day, the return on investment is what they care about. They don't grow coffee, do they? We do."

While Starbucks chairman Howard Schultz might beg to differ with that assessment, Vu says he's depending on the sustainability positioning of coffee farmers in Vietnam's highland region to serve as a focus for his brand as he brings it to the west. "American consumers don't need another product," he said. "They need another story."

Comments

Ngoc Hoang Australia says:

When Vu says about Starbucks that "they are not selling coffee, they are selling coffee-flavored water with sugar in it", he is offending hundreds of millions of Starbucks' s customers who have been enjoying Starbucks's coffee around the world. Saying those words, Vu means that these hundreds of millions of people are stupid, that they don't have a taste for coffee, that they only enjoy "coffee-flavored water with sugar in it".

Vu's marketing strategy is extremely stupid when he offend hundreds of millions of people to whom he wants to introduce his Trung Nguyen coffee. Vu's statement shows that he doesn't have the culture of good businessmen who know how to introduce their production and attract customers. As a coffee drinker, I definitely won't taste the coffee of a man who stupidly and rudely offends people like that.

November 15, 2012 05:27 AM #

Cường Pháp United States says:

In this case, i think Vu is right.
Sit back down and think more about words of Vu.
I love Trung Nguyen Coffee - The No.1 coffee.
  

November 15, 2012 12:26 PM #

Dung tran Vietnam says:

Dear,

I have tasted Starbucks coffee and for me it is not real coffee. And hundreds people all over the world are not stupid, they just have never get a chance to drink A real Coffee.

November 19, 2012 02:48 AM #

Cường Pháp United States says:

I love Trung Nguyen Coffee and hope to see you in London soon.

November 15, 2012 12:30 PM #

Minh Vietnam says:

Here's the truth...  Can you handle it?  Vu's scared, plain and simple.  His trash-talk doesn't change the fact that TN shops charge Starbucks prices without the quality.  The coffee shop market is about to become a lot more competitive in 2013.  Smile  

November 16, 2012 08:52 PM #

andres United States says:

Let's see how that coffee taste

November 18, 2012 10:40 AM #

Comments are closed

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