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The Wall Street Journal features an interview this morning with Starbucks CEO Orin Smith, who has said that eventually the coffee retailer will have more stores overseas than in the US.

"There isn't a great variation from country to country," Smith tells the WSJ. "Outside the U.S., you find that food is a bigger part of the business -- much more important in China, Japan and the U.K. than it is in America. Frappuccino-kind of products are popular everywhere. You have a little bit less drip coffee in some markets because they are more espresso drinkers. In other countries, we don't sell as much whole-bean coffee. They're not into as much home brewing as we are here. We are trying to change that. We don't have any intention of rolling out establishments with liquor."

Starbucks currently has more than a thousand units open overseas.

Smith spelled out the five essential lessons the company has learned about overseas expansion:

1: Don't assume the market is like America, even if it's an English-speaking country.

2: Set up partnerships abroad to grow faster.

3: Never become better at opening stores than operating them.

4: Hire locally for both managers and rank-and-file employees.

5: Adapt to local culture and tastes.
KC's View:
The best part of the interview is when the WSJ asks Smith how much coffee he drinks and how he drinks it:

    Four or five. I'm always wired. Black drip coffee. I'm hard-core. No cream, no sugar. I've always consumed quite a bit of coffee. What has changed is that I drink a lot better coffee today.

It's always nice to know that the boss actually uses the product. We've always wondered how many food retailers actually do the family shopping. Because if they don't - and we suspect this is the case as often as not - the retailer is missing the best opportunity for market research.