Why is there another line at UBC? During a raining and cold day nevertheless! The answer is because of Kimono Koi Crepes! Now the questions is how did people know about this? The answer to that is: Facebook! An event was created on Facebook and thousands of students were invited by their friends and friends of friends. I was invited by a friend, brought three more friends with me to the event and we waited for 40 minutes. Ridiculous? I think so. This is the power of social media at work! You can be a small business like the Kimomo Koi Crepes food stall and still gain thousands of customers without spending a single cent on advertising.
Small businesses like these don’t have many funds to invest in large-scale marketing campaigns unlike Coca Cola or Apple. They usually have a quota of how much to sell per day and only see those, taking only cash. Many people in Asian countries make their profits through small businesses like these. In fact, food stalls and night markets are very famous tourist attractions in places like Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan. Now, they are slowly penetrating the North American markets. Over the last couple of years, I have gradually seen the amount of food stalls we have in Downtown Vancouver increase in numbers and variety. Many hotdog stands are replaced by Chinese take-out, Japanese tapas, and fresh seafood. The key to the marketing strategies of food stalls are the use of location and consumers. Word of mouth and social media are their most important assets.
Now let’s briefly investigate the marketing mix of Kimono Koi Crepes.
PRODUCT & PRICING
Kimono Koi Crepes just sell crepes: savory and sweet. Each crepe is freshly made right in front of your eyes and they are made to order. They are then filled to the brim with fruits, cakes, ice cream, cookies, whip cream and sprinkles or the savory stuffing. Finally, each crepe is wrapped in bright pink paper and taped off like an ice cream cone. The packaging is both easy for the customer hold and very price efficient for the owners to purchase. The average crepe is sold for $6.75 tax included. It is a rather ridiculous price for just a crepe, especially if you have been to France where you can buy a delicious crepe off the street for $2.00. They are selling their exotic flavours and decorative creations. Furthermore, Kimono Koi Crepes is selling a service: making your crepe on order. Each crepe seems like it is individualized. Furthermore, since they sell in Downtown Vancouver, they know that their consumer base isn’t too price sensitive. At events like UBC, they are using their products to appeal to university students as well as the fact that they are here for a one time exclusive event.
DISTRIBUTION & PLACE
Kimono Koi Crepes has a regular corner in Downtown Vancouver, right in front of the exit for the Canada Line Skytrain. It’s a pretty brilliant choice of location as they can catch the flow of people when they get on and off the skytrain. Furthermore, it is a very central location. The smartest choice in my opinion, is choosing a corner with a lot of space so people can line up without being pushed against other people. Other food stalls tend to choose Robson Street to set up their stalls. This is a key location as well but often I am less inclined to buy from those stalls because it is in the middle of a very narrow high traffic zone. Occasionally, Kimono Koi Crepes, has events at other high traffic locations like: UBC or the Steveson Winter Market. It is an effective way to get their name out to consumers located in different areas. Kimono Crepes has a very short supply chain. They sell their product directly to their customers. In this way, they can provide very friendly and personalized service and have full control over how their product is presented as well as its quality.
The street cart itself is a promotional feature to Kimono Koi Crepes. Decorated in bright pink, it so very eye-catching. Their website is simplistic; they simply list their location, menu and contact information. They predominately use social media and reply on consumer word of mouth to advertise their product. Customers can add them as a friend on Facebook as well as like the Facebook fan page. Furthermore, they keep consistent updates on their Twitter account to notify followers where they are and what they are doing. I saw the owner updating their Twitter on his Blackberry and taking photos of the line to post on Facebook when I was in line for my crepe. He was very friendly and made a point to have a in depth conversation with me and my friends which made the 40 minute wait worth it. Furthermore, at the UBC event, they had their money collection at a separate table. You went and bought a ticket for your crepe first then lined up for your crepe. It made things go a little faster and at the same time most people wouldn’t just leave the line because they already paid for their product. They have a very effective Point of Purchase strategy as well. If you were just contemplating if you should get a crepe, going to read the menu allows you to see the plastic food models on the stand so if you were unsure of what your crepe would look like, you can see. Furthermore, you are so close that you can smell the aroma of crepes being made. That’s enough to make anyone’s stomach grumble!
All in all, when you own a small business such as this, it is time to get creative!