Faking the Old Amazingly Modernly

starbucksThere are probably only a few places on earth that are longing modernity and progress as Hong Kong. Yet, if you would think that this leads to all modern branding – you are mistaken. An interesting example of modernising the old is the somewhat perplexing Starbucks store in Duddell Street. If you think about Starbucks, you are most likely to come up with associations such as American, progressive, Friends (the tv series or human ones), vanilla lattes etc – but probably the last thing on your mind are 1950s nostalgic coffee stores in Asia. Yet, this is exactly what the store is replicating: i.e. it is faking the old, the coffee stores of yesteryear – and amusingly probably the ones that had to close because they were unfashionable, old and replaced by the more glitzy and exciting american-style coffee chains like Starbucks (or Pacific Coffee).

Maybe the success of these (and similar) enterprises could be explained by linking it to the phenomenon of retro-marketing, described in detail in this article by Stephen Brown. Equally, one could also argue that what has actually changed is just “the packaging” – as the store does sell mostly modern Starbucks drinks – albeit with a few “traditional” items added to the menu. So are consumers going there seeking novelty? Or are they, in fact, seeking an experience of the old in familiar settings? Maybe, one could argue that Starbucks is trying to develop glocally, by fusing Asian and American concepts? Or are Starbucks just merchandising history, using it to mask their corporate brand image? How real is the fake old? How does it add to (or indeed contradict) the main brand? What do you think? Do you have other examples of “fake old” selling the modern? How does it make you feel when you “consume” the old in a modern way? Share your thoughts by using the comment functions below to respond!

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