Taiwan Diaries: Convenience Stores

By Lu


Taiwan 08

(Taipei, Taiwan) They’re all the same everywhere

Taiwanese loves their convenience store, and with so much round the corner, it’s a wonder how they could earn money. I first observed this when I arrived in Taipei Main Station. 2 Seven Eleven are within walking distance of each other. With other competitors – Family Mart and Hi Life sprinkled surrounding the brand name convenience stores; it’s a convenience shopper paradise. As a marketing tool, having that much stores around bearing the same distinctive sign board is a good branding instrument. But, as a way to earn profit, I’m not so sure about it. With that much competition around, from both within and outside the brand, how much could a single store make in a month? The franchisers are making a killing out of the monthly royalty each franchisee has to pay. Now, it’s no longer a game of improvising to provide a unique selling point, but rather to just dominate the market by sheer volume.

I visited each type of convenience store to check out the layout inside. I was expecting something different but they’re just selling the exact same thing in almost the same arrangement. It might had been wiser if the brands just consolidate and merged their branches in Taiwan together. It will not compromise the Taiwanese taste for convenience since the rivals used to be next to each other. Not good for the brands, but reduce inefficiencies in the market.

A quiet moment of glory happened when I stepped out of the bus in Tainan, I couldn’t see a single Seven Eleven in sight. Thinking that this city is spared of the competition of convenience brands, I was dismayed when I saw the familiar sign once again.