Fights broke in a Chinese Starbucks store after the coffee giants released a limited edition cats paw cup.
By, 6 Mar 2019
The inside of the cup is shaped like a cats paw that becomes more visible as you fill it with liquid.
The cups went on sale last Tuesday for 199Yuan (about £22.50) and sold out in less than 24hrs.
But as the stock ran low, crazed shoppers began fighting over the last few cups.
Supply and Demand
This led media sources to suggest that Starbucks deliberately limited supply to artificially drive up demand for the cups.
Starbucks denied the claims but later announced that the remaining stock would be sold through its online store in series of afternoon sales over three days. The first 1,000 sold out in less than 10 seconds.
Nobody really knows why Chinese shoppers went crazy for the cat cups, suggesting that the high-level of demand was directly linked to limited supply.
However, Starbucks insists that the marketing strategy for the cat cups was no different from previous campaigns around limited edition products.
Starbucks released the final 3,000 cups through another online sale. They sold out in less than a second.
What does it all mean?
Through our western eyes, the cat is an ambiguous symbol in Chinese culture. On the one hand, ancient Chinese culture revered the cat as a sacred animal. There's also the popular Chinese saying Zhao Cai Mao, which means cats bring fortune. Many store owners are known to keep a statue of a cat on the front desk for good luck.
Then again, cat meat is the main ingredient in many popular Chinese dishes. While opposition to the use of cat meat is growing, it's estimated that the people of the Guangdong province eat 10,000 cats per day.
So whatever the cat means in Chinese society, it's a symbol that's deeply embedded in the cultural consciousness. Is this something that Starbucks exploited for profit? Or were they simply providing products in a way that satisfies consumer desire?
Whatever the answer, the only thing we know for sure is that the short-lived cat cup craze is over. For now...