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Global bubble tea franchise Gong Cha eyes massive growth in U.S.

Einar Gustafsson, CEO of the bubble tea chain’s Americas divisions, shares how its differentiated model will fuel explosive growth across the country


The U.S. has a deeply embedded coffee culture. From Starbucks and Dunkin down to independent shops all across the country, coffee houses have become a staple of the American routine.

But one global chain is betting that there’s plenty of white space left in the beverage category — and an opportunity to challenge Starbucks’ dominance with a beverage alternative.

Gong Cha, a bubble-tea brand that started in Taiwan and is now based in London, is eyeing massive franchise growth in the U.S. It has nearly 75 locations in the U.S. to date (with about 800 globally), and Einar Gustafsson, CEO of Gong Cha Americas, said hundreds more are to come.

That’s despite the fact that bubble tea remains something of a fringe product outside the major U.S. markets.

“It is hard to change people’s behaviors,” Gustafsson said. “[But] if I would have told you 40 years ago that Americans were going to go to a coffee house called Starbucks and enjoy an espresso and proper coffee you would have said, ‘unlikely.’”

In this interview from Take-Away with Sam Oches, Gustafsson shares more about the Gong Cha brand, what it’s learned in international markets and how it plans to capture the hearts of Americans in the coming years. Plus, Sam shares his three take-aways that listeners should take with them from the interview.

Contact Sam Oches at [email protected]

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