VietNamNet Bridge – The Vietnamese coffee market is believed to nearly get saturated. The changes in the brand positioning are believed to lead to the biggest changes in the brands’ fames.

The Highlands’ silence


The owners of Highlands’ Coffee kept quiet over the last year after the noisy deal of selling Highlands Coffee’s stakes for $25 million.

Highlands, since the first day of operation, has been known as the coffee brand for businessmen, and for the intellectuals with high incomes.

High income earners came to Highlands cafes to enjoy the good drinks and the large atmosphere. However, its position has been threatened by the appearance of the US giant Starbucks.

To date, Starbucks has had only two cafes that sell ready made coffee for drinking on the spot and take away coffee to stylish young customers who want to taste the Number 1 coffee in the world.

However, this is not all the things Starbucks would do in Vietnam. John Culver, President of Starbucks in China and Asia Pacific, told the press that HCM City is just the first stay of Starbucks in Vietnam. In the future, the US giant would open hundreds of cafes in big urban areas throughout Vietnam, including Hanoi.

Analysts have warned that if Starbucks succeeds in its plan to develop at least five shops in the first two years in Vietnam; this would be a threat to the rivals.

If so, Starbucks, though being a new comer, would use the influences from its strong brand and the large scale operation to impose the rules of the games in the market.

The Vietnamese market has nearly got saturated with the presence of all big brands, namely The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, Trung Nguyen, Passio Coffee. However, with the presence of Starbucks, the existing brands would have to make changes with their brand positioning and show their advantages suitable to different groups of clients.

The “Vietnamese taste”

The decision by Highlands of selling 49 percent of its business division in Vietnam to Jollibee in its high prosperity was believed to be a preparatory move for the confrontation with Starbucks.

Sources said that the owner of VTI, the owner of Highlands coffee brand once thought of a spare brand in 2010, when Vietnamese got wind of the upcoming arrival of Starbucks.

It’s obvious that Highlands Coffee is the main rival of Starbucks, and vice versa. After one year of keeping quiet, Highlands Coffee has raised its voice.

The café chain has announced the changes in the brand strategy, while having opened a new shop at Diamond Plaza.

Besides the changes in the images, one could see a lot of changes in the menu of the café chain: there are more food and drinks with Vietnamese characteristics with more competitive prices.

The representative of Highlands Coffee said the style of the new shop at Diamond Plaza would be also seen at all the 62 Highlands cafes in Vietnam and 20 in foreign countries.

It’s obvious that after one decade of doing business in Vietnam, Highlands now tries to target a wider range of clients and detach itself from Starbucks with strong western style.

Vietnamese consumers have changed their mind, and consumer goods brands have also change themselves. After a period of being eager to taste the western style, Vietnamese have been striving to the traditional values.