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Main Topic: European Flavor in a Chinese heartland

Hosts: Robert Reynolds, Clyde Warden

Professor Robert Reynolds, a regular guest on Talk of Asian Marketing caught sight of a popular shop out in Puli (in Nantao County). Puli is normally thought of as an out of the way place, beautiful scenery, and a stop on the road to the tourist destination, Sun Moon Lake. A small local shop was getting in the a lot of news coverage. Chocolate Shop Promo

What piqued our interest was the first the classic use of lines creating interest, generating longer lines. In Greater China, simply having a line in front of a shop draws news reporters like bees to honey. Secondly, a European chocolate specialty shop just seems so unusual in Taiwan, where European and chocolate are both off the map. A foreign product with no real psychological positioning among consumers is very interesting. An individual entrepreneur making a success of it is something we just couldn't miss.

Chinese snacks tend to be salty, rather than sweet. Bakeries abound in Taiwan and Singapore, often full of colorful confectioneries. A Western palate is in for a surprise though, as the actual sweetness level is very low. Candies are mostly seen as Lunar New Year treats for children. Birthday cakes are common enough, often fruit filled for sweetness. Pie shops have popped up here and there over the years, but again, not even as sweet as your off the shelf pie filling in Walmart. In this context, chocolate never has been a big deal. In the early 2000s though, a dark chocolate fad took off, and suddenly chocolate was on the news for its health benefits. In this context, a specialty chocolate shop has a fighting chance, but out in the middle of Central Taiwan's mountains, something very special is needed.

Staff move quickly to answer any question, even if overhead from the back office, with samples. ConsumerCam shows clearly how engaged the staff are, and while the owner's talk about making the chocolate from "love" sounds a bit shallow, the staff really do execute it well. Everyone is excited to make customers satisfied and get people involved with the product.

Uniforms, brochures, cups, napkins, name cards, menus, video screens, all constantly reinforce the brand name and colors. Even the brand color is interesting, as clearly a dark brown or black would not be very acceptable in Taiwan. A light coffee cream color instead seems to work very well, with the brand name in dark brown.

Once inside, the small shop funnels customers into a very interactive and personal servicescape. Service staff are well versed in the details of the different flavors. The wide number of flavors makes the whole process very involved, and the staff encourage this involvement. Simultaneously, this slows the purchasing process to a crawl, which accounts for the long lines. This creates an economy of shortage, accounting for the waiting space in the front. The small entry and limited number of simultaneous customers all contribute to a feeling of exclusivity, high contact service, while the long lines at the front give the visual renao cue for passersby.

Download: Promotional material from the store. Click to download (11 MB).

Making chocolate is a passionate business. It brings love and happiness.

Listen To The Show (Audio Only):

Length: 18 minutes. Download MP3 8.63MB (Right click->Save As).

On Location

Watch The Show (Video & Audio):

From Puli, Robert and Clyde.
Length: 18 minutes.

iPod Download MP4 81.44MB (Right click->Save As).
QuickTime Download MOV 131.56MB (Right click->Save As).
Windows Media Download WMV 69.17MB (Right click->Save As).
High Quality mp4 H.264(640x480) Download high quality mp4 138.82MB (Right click->Save As).


Consumer Cam ConsumerCam:

Vid. 1) Getting in line.
Vid. 2) Waiting area.
Vid. 3) Being served.
Vid. 4) Customers cutting the line asked to wait.

Bottom Line:

  • A remote location can create a shortage of supply that drives interest and demand.
  • A food from outside normal Chinese diets needs modification.
  • An entrepreneur needs to be totally involved with the core product.
  • Store design that is NOT imported, matching local norms, can still convey strong stories about the product.
Category: Videocasts

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