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Customer Experience Marketing

Starbucks takes over heritage site in China as part of its ‘third place’ strategy


By Charlotte McEleny, Asia Editor

August 30, 2019 | 3 min read

Starbucks has a global mission to become the ‘third place’ in people’s lives (outside of work and home) and it’s levelling-up its in-store experiences to do so, most recently by taking over a historical building in China.

Starbucks China

Starbucks takes over heritage site in China as part of its ‘third place’ strategy

The brand has opened one of its experience-led Starbucks Reserve stores in Tianjin, China. Located at Riverside 66, a building built in 1921 to originally house the Zhejiang Xinye Bank until the early 1950s.

According to the announcement, a core reason for developing the building was to preserve history while mixing it with Starbuck’s coffee innovation. The building’s original bank counters have been restored, to make people feel like they are in the old bank.

Starbucks has focused heavily on its ‘third place’ strategy in China and it’s had a lot of success, particularly around its high-end Reserve concept, first launched in China in Shanghai.

Leo Tsoi, senior vice president, chief operating officer and president, Starbucks China, retail, said: “Over the past 20 years in China, Starbucks has constantly pushed to innovate and reimagine the Third Place experience, to bring people and communities closer together. We are immensely proud and privileged to preserve a revered piece of history that binds together four generations of Tianjin residents, and to share this rich cultural inheritance with more people, passing it on to future generations.”

The store uses some of the tricks from other Reserve stores, by making a large bar and its skilled baristas the focal point, as well as including experiences around the store for products such as the Teavana range. The Reserve stores, in keeping with the ‘Third Place’ philosophy also serve coffee and tea inspired alcoholic drinks, as well as beer.

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