Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group and Seattle-based coffee chain Starbucks share a similar vision, according to Alibaba Executive Chairman Jack Ma: building a company that’s doing more than just generating profits.
During a speech in Chengdu at an annual Starbucks event celebrating the company’s Chinese employees, Ma emphasized the point by highlighting the important role that young people play at both companies. At Alibaba, the average employee age is 29, while at Starbucks it’s 28.
“Alibaba hopes to work together with Starbucks to create even more opportunities to develop Chinese youth because they are our future,” Ma said at the Starbucks China Partner-Family Forum, sharing the stage with famed Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz. “All of you at today’s event represent China’s future.”
In December, Starbucks launched a store on Alibaba Group’s business-to-consumer e-commerce website Tmall.com. Although Starbucks currently has 2,000 locations in about 100 cities in China, it is leveraging the continued growth of e-commerce in China to sell gift cards and coupons to Chinese consumers. In a statement issued yesterday following Ma’s speech, Starbucks said its the virtual store collected 300,000 registered fans in the past month and launched a “social gifting” feature that allows users to send those cards and coupons to friends and family through the Tmall platform. On top of its digital push, Starbucks said it would boost its overall store count in the coming years, aiming to reach 3,400 by 2019.
“As Starbucks’ second largest and fastest-growing market globally, China represents the most important and exciting opportunity ahead of us,” Schultz said.
In the statement, Starbucks said that it and Alibaba sought to “redefine the roles and responsibilities of a for-profit public company, one that invests in its people, giving back to the local communities in meaningful ways, and creating unique developmental opportunities for the youths of today.”
The China Partner Family Forum celebrates Starbucks’ 30,000 Chinese employees, reinforcing the company’s commitment to what it calls “conscious capitalism.” The goal is to boost company productivity by enhancing the work experience for those employees.
(Correction, 1/13/16: A previous version of this story misstated that Starbucks launched a flagship store on Tmall Global in December. In fact, the store was launched on Tmall.com.)