The Crepe Factory Experience
I had my first Crepe experience at the Roasters, and it was simply divine. Then I came across this Crepe Factory thing and I was on my way.
The location of the place is a bit of a problem as well. It’s located right at the back of the Khadda market, away from all the eateries that are in that area. So when someone from the other side of Kala Pull wants to get there, it’s quite difficult.
When we reached the place on a Saturday night after asking for the directions from their management for the umpteenth time, it looked like a ghost town.
And nothing turns off a consumer from a food joint than a look of desertion on a weekend. It casts doubt about the credibility about the brand that if this place was good enough, why is no one here at this peak hour? Secondly, no one wants to eat out at a place all alone. You want to be surrounded by a couple of other diners just for the sake of the right ambience. If you wanted to eat all by yourself, you could have ordered in, isn’t it?
About the food, the Crepes were all great, at least the ones we tried. The filling was generous enough. However, the size and price of the Crepe is a major impediment to the stellar success of this joint. The size in itself is not a big problem as is the presentation and pricing of it.
A single Crepe costs anywhere between Rs.200 and 400, depending upon the filling, but as you can see from the snapshot, it is hardly fulfilling. A single Crepe couldn’t satiate even my appetite, and I don’t have a voracious stomach by any stretch of the imagination. A person with a healthy appetitie would need three Crepes to satiate his appetite. Now here’s the problem. Irrespective of the price, most Pakistani consumers would buy just one item, and if that doesn’t fill their stomach, they are not going to order another and wait around. They’re just going to move onto some place else to fill up, and possibly never to return back.
The people at Crepe factory have done a wonderful job of launching a new category by narrowing the focus in line with the laws of branding. And it deserves all the first-mover advantage. However, grabbing the first-mover advantage entails some grassroots marketing which I’m afraid they have done only partially. What they have done is team up with karachisnobs.com, a website with an amazing detail of karachi restaurants. Crepe Factory people have uploaded some pretty amazing snaps of different crepes on that website, photos that make you want to stuff that digital photo in your mouth.
But the marketing part would come second. First they need to jazz up the entrees. How? Just have a look at the snapshot of the Crepe. What comes to your mind? More importantly, what ideas come brimming to your mind, which I’m sure they would if you are a food junkie like me. First, it’s way too simplistic. Even the worst café around spends sometime on the presentation part, adding some accessories to sex up the entrée.
And what are the best accessories? Fries and Coleslaw. These two have become the staple of fast food, rich or poor. Without them, the consumer feels dissatisfied. Another variation is fries and garlic sauce which Indulge has been using to good effect. Anything to make the entrée more appetizing.
Yes, the Crepe factory people can argue that the original Crepe dish doesn’t have these things to go with it, and they maybe absolutely right. But being right isn’t going to make their business grow or even survive, now would it?
Launching a new product is exciting and dangerous at the same time.
So it would have been better for them had they opened up a restaurant offering the same things that Pakistanis are used to consuming but with some differentiation. Making innovation successful as the Crepe Factory people have tried to is tortuorously difficult not just in Pakistan but in any part of the world. Differentiation is relatively easy and the basis on which most entrepreneurs have been successful.
And the sad thing is, now that Crepe factory has launched the category and done all the hard work; another crepe café can open right across the Crepe Factory and with the right amount of marketing and a little bit of differentiation, they can easily take away the first mover advantage. The same way Ipod blew away the competition of MP3 players although it was just a ‘Me-too’ product. What Apple did was just sit and observe how the new category of portable MP3 players played out, and when it had collected sufficient consumer insight, only then did it come out with the Ipod.
I had my first Crepe encounter at Roasters, and I simply loved it. The problem with Crepe is that at least for us Pakistanis, it’s hard for us to accept it as the main entrée. It’s just not that fulfilling. So the Crepe Factory will really have to alter the whole offering to make it more attractive to the target market. All in all, the idea is a novel one, and in line with the laws of branding, focusing on just one category instead of offering everything under the sun to the consumers as is the trend in this part of the world.