Saturday, November 11, 2006

Create Your Own Concept

Concept by Equalizer

In a country where the general beleif is, if its foreign, it must ridiculously hard to recreate; we get a flood of tasteless monotonous franchises, most of which are relatively unheard of. What makes big cosmopolitan cities like London & New York different, is exactly the opposite. Competition means that businesses must differentiate on all levels to set themselves apart from each other. This means that new ideas are naturally created to set new standards. Ideas that not only driven by business sense, but also passion, which is the most important recipe for success. Numbers are good to have, but how do you quantify the potential of a relatively untested idea?

Most people in Kuwait venturing in the food industry suffer from two main problems, first they want to hit it big with no effort thus buying a franchise, or two copy an existing successful idea and try to carve your way through. Unfortunately, in both cases it adds nothing to the market worth mentioning. The solution is to create local concepts that are driven by passionate restaurateurs and entrepreneurs.

I will try to breifly outline for all you folks out there how to go about and create a successful concept, that along with your passion will make your dreams come true. This is especially usefull if you dont have an idea to begin with.

  • Market Study: This study is the most important, as it acts as a map which gives you a birds eye view of everything around in the market. You will be able to identify underserved areas and quantify the size of that market. For example the biggest age group is 10 to 18 year olds. The highest consumption of that group is ice cream. The number of ice cream parlours in the city is not more than 1% of total food service operations. You then immediately realize that there is something worth investigating. You do a quick survey of all the ice cream parlours and find out why they haven't grown to meet demand, or why their demand is not high as it should be. You might realize that those parlours are positioned for a completely different older market. There you know you found a gap in which you can position your self and find a nice warm home you call your business.
  • Concept Development: This stage requires you to pin down all the neccessary elements of the idea from a macro level. Once you have identified your market, you must analyse their needs. For the case of the ice cream parlour, you realize that a young crowd requires that flavours are adventurous, yet familiar, not alien. You realize that the brand identity, must reflect colors, typfaces, illustrations and graphics that appeal to such young crowd. A very important aspect is the pricing. The target price to volume, or in our case price per scoop of ice cream must be affordable, as the young crowd are usually on a budget. A comparison to the market is essential in this case. Now you have a general guidline for you concept.
  • Product Development: Working backwards form a target pricing level, you can then develop the recipes for the product, offcourse using your own talent and creativity. Before you become wildly creative, you must know how much that scoop should cost you. Generally in high volume operations a food cost of 40% is acceptable. For example of the scoop of ice cream sells at 500 fils, then the scoop should not cost more that 200 fils. Using that 200 fils as a benchmark, you can start creating your recipes given that you know the cost of every ingredient you use. This usually is the most time intensive stage as you must test and retest over and over again until you have perfected your idea.
  • Branding: Branding is not just about the logo, it is about all the graphic medium that not only represents your products, but accentuates it. This means a consistent strong message from the logo, packaging, uniforms, store graphics, design, and all collateral. Never go cheap or do it quick. Try to be very creative and make sure you are involved, because end of the day no one understands the concept better than you.
  • Feasibility Study: This where all of the above along with important data regarding the setup costs and running costs such as rent, salaries, equipment, constrcution etc. is measure against the potential expected sales. This will tell you whether your idea actually makes business sense or not.
  • Business Plan: This should encompass all of the above and include an actual action plan that outlines all the dates and neccessary procedures for the whole project to be executed.
  • Marketing Plan: A proper marketing plan should guide you as to which is the most cost effective way to promote your business and make sure that you attract your market. It will identify channels such as print media, radio, internet, word of mouth, sponsorships etc.
Now that you have a general idea of how to create a concept, I would expect someone to take this seriously and does a more thourough investigation of the above mentioned steps and does us all a favor by improving the food scene in Kuwait.

I think I can give you a free head start. Milkshake Laboratory. The name is different, catchy and appeals to a sophisticated high end market. The possible products could be the following:

  • Strawberry & Shortcake Shake
  • Rapberry, White Chocolate & Dulce de Leche Shake
  • Brownie and Chocolate Fudge Shake
  • Green Tea Malt
  • Dark Valrohna Chocolate and Mint Shake
  • Chocolate Cheesecake Shake
  • Banana Honey & Coffee
  • Espresso Shake
  • Lavender & Vanilla Shake
I think you get the point, and I need not go further. The design should be clean and crisp and modern, emphasizing on the quality of the shakes and using the colors of the shakes as indicators of variety.

Good Luck !


Blogger Erzulie said...

Okay, but try to avoid the whole sterile feel of a lab; case in point, that little illustration of yours up there. I mean it's "cool" but you really don't feel any shake shaking in there.
Maybe it's just me but when I think "Shake" I think messy, sloppy, and fulfilling :D

"The Shake Menu"
"Shake It Here"
"Sheikh Shake"


11/12/2006 06:53:00 AM  
Blogger Erzulie said...

You know what else can be sweet, if you have cool cups. I mean, shakes are always treated casually. You wanna have something you can drink with pinkies up. It can even depend on the type of shake, like that minty stuff, it can be in some sort of long, dark lime colored glass. Or if you try a "pina colada" shake, maybe in a cup that looks like a coconut OR a pineapple!

Of course, you gotta make it look sexy :P If anyone is eating outdoors in Kuwait, well, you know what I mean :P~~

Make shakes dainty...that's classy shake...hehehe, not here!!

11/12/2006 11:09:00 AM  
Anonymous Lady H. said...

Lack of originality is an ailment we suffer from over here too ... Some will claim they are different but it is merely a superficial differentiation .. And from my experience it is because they are not willing to invest in research and development of a new concept..

11/12/2006 12:15:00 PM  
Blogger Equalizer said...

Erzulie: You are in a shake mood aren't you? hehe Well I do agree about being too clinical, but you also want to avoid the cluttery designs of Starbucks that has a more "franchise" feel that is too corporate. Infact the place will be too colorful as the walls will have all the colors of the different flavors. You want to give the impression that it is light. In otherwords fool the consumer to beleive that it is actually healthy and its not a 1000 calorie intake!
As for the cups, you are right it can be different, I was thinking white paper cups (cost effective) with a window showing the inside of the place. It is not cost effective to have those different cups and glasses unless you are a full service seated operation selling at higher margins.

Lady H: I totally agree, the unwillingness to invest in research and development is one of the main drivers of why we lack originality. I think most probably think that research and development is for rockets only.

11/12/2006 02:17:00 PM  
Blogger Intlxpatr said...

"Sheikh it Up, Baby"
"Shake, Baby, Shake!"

Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On!

Sorry, sorry, cracking myself up again. And it is a great post, E.

11/12/2006 03:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Lady H. said...

They think everything is Rocket Science and they have to fly in an expert to do it for them...

11/13/2006 10:59:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

are you going to start a milkshake business?

what about soup??
a soup place that serves soup in a cup go in the states.
with a big variety of soups.

enough of cream of chicken, cream of mushroom and lental!!

We want our own Soup Nazi! just like in Seinfeld.


11/13/2006 11:31:00 AM  
Blogger Alia said...

you should teach marketing
I know so many places here in Kuwait that could use your help

11/13/2006 12:07:00 PM  
Blogger Equalizer said...

intlxpatr: I wonder what shake you have in mind hehe

Lady H.: That is so true, but you know what? I'd rather have them fly in someone that brings in an original idea rather than buying a frachise!

3abeer: Soups in Kuwait? The only thing that can make people line up here is Kabab! i'm not a kabab aficionado, but what I saw in mubarakiya and actually tasted is something out of this world. Mind the weird looking tribals.

Alia: Marketing is a bit of science, boldness and common sense. People here tend to "hug" the norms rather than push the envelope.

11/13/2006 04:07:00 PM  
Blogger Stinni said...

Mint Chocolate Chip Sundae Shake

Chocolate/Banana/Peanut Butter Shake

Orange/Vanilla - like Orange Julius

Ah...I could go on. Thank you for the post. It was informative and helpful. My dream is to open up a little gourmet store that sells specialty oils, vinegars, pestos, pastas, cheese (I make the best ricotta), organic and homemade natural good things. Either that or start catering from my kitchen. Not enough money and time and too much trouble though.

11/14/2006 02:44:00 PM  
Blogger Intlxpatr said...

Seriously, 3abeer has the right idea. Other places, you can buy wonderful soups, all made up, bring them home and heat and eat . .. . tomato/basil, broccoli/cheese/bacon, carrot/ginger, smoked salmon chowder (! oh kill me now) . . . soup . . .sigh.

11/14/2006 05:15:00 PM  
Blogger Stinni said...

I think soups would do well in the cool winter months but during the summer? I think it might work in a stall-like setup - you know, like the cups of corn they sell at some co-op entrances, entertainment parks, there's even one in KOC hospital. Who knew selling cups of corn would be such a hit?

11/14/2006 07:15:00 PM  
Blogger Equalizer said...

Mmmm I'm getting mixed responses about shakes. What if I made it into a "Shoup" Shake & Soup?

Stinni: You have great ideas! You know what you want, so getting the money is the easiest part if you can figure out all the rest. There are plenty of financing options available. I would love to see a foodie like you open up a place so that a foodie like me can enjoy :)

Intlxpatr: Are you in a cold place right now? Because I'm not hehe

Stinni (again): The problem is not in the cup of corn, its in the anount of knockoff that are doing the exact same thing as if its the only recipe for success! I wont blame them, oil is running out, so corn will be the next big thing!

11/14/2006 07:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Yousef said...

I loved the marketing insight into how ice cream appeals to the younger generation of Kuwait. I was wondering do you work in the marketing sector directly yourself?

11/14/2006 11:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i havent had a milkshake in ages, maybe over 10 years.. but if i were to have one now, it would be a basic vanilla milkshake, with banana honey and pistachio... or maybe even a mini version of a deep rich 80% and above cocoa milkshake with orange zest, and a shot of espresso...

i think this post is wonderful because it helps people try to think out of the box, create a unique product thats full of heart and passion as you say..
but yet.. there are so many people that prefer to copy other peoples' work..
its sad, especially since the original concepts take so much time and effort..


11/15/2006 09:06:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I made my self clear... Soup stand!!

abi soup stand... and you can serve shakes on the side :P

11/15/2006 12:48:00 PM  
Blogger Zaydoun said...

"Laboratory" is a mouthful of a word (no pun intended) and too much of a tongue-twister even for English speakers.

MILKSHAKE LAB should do the trick!

11/15/2006 12:57:00 PM  
Blogger Intlxpatr said...

I'm here in Kuwait - making soup! But there are also hot weather soups - gazpacho, melon, even pumpkin. . .

But you are right, the demographics point toward milkshakes . . .

11/15/2006 04:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Lady H. said...

If they flying someone to make use of his expertise to create a concept that suits the area I am fine with that too... Enough of buying franchises it is time we in the this area create them ... I am certain that in the near future we will see alot of them :)

11/15/2006 11:41:00 PM  
Blogger Equalizer said...

Yousef: I do not work in marketing. My background is finance / investments. You develop your marketing accumen over time and reading, and practice.

LTEC: mmmm nice bold and rich flavors. You like to sit near a fireplace with a blanket near you?
As for copy cats, they will always be branded as copy cats. If they are willing to accept it, then fine. Competition is fair.

3abeer: hehe I can understand why u want such thing now! Nice cold weather these days. You will get sick of it :p I will give it a shot

Zaydoun: Then what would you say about "Laboratorio Del Gelato" in NYC? Ok SHAKE LAB? shorter and sweeter

intlxpatr: Gazpacho!! I just love it. It requires really fresh organic vegetables to enjoy it fully, otherwise it would taste bland.

Lady H: Far future! If there will be any, unfortunately :S

11/16/2006 12:50:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

blanket and fireplace, well.. that would be great.. but a chewy gingerbread cookie and milk would be perfect right now, but im too lazy to go to the kitchen and get them!
competition.. roar..

11/16/2006 02:01:00 AM  
Blogger Intlxpatr said...

We have gazpacho often - everything you need is here, and as you said - fresh! Cilantro. Garlic. "red" vinegar. peppers. cucumber. fresh tasty tomatoes. Health in a glass, and so wonderful on a hot hot hot day.

But Kuwaiti clam chowder is perfect for the Kuwaiti winter. And is there a Kuwaiti Bouillabaisse?

11/16/2006 03:44:00 PM  
Blogger 1001 Nights said...

I think it's generous of you to take the time to write all this down and educate people who are not in the business about how to conceptualize an idea. It shows that it's not as simple as is often thought.

Reading your Shake idea reminded me of a new place I heard of located next to the KSE called BLENDS. It also has shakes but I think they're not only for high end but also for HEALTH-concious high end users. I havent tried it yet but my friend raves about it. At any rate, I don't think we have a Shakes shortage in Kuwait but a healthy food shortage. Aside from Lo-Fat and now Blends, what else do we have in that market?

11/17/2006 12:06:00 PM  
Blogger Erzulie said...

I think you can fool the health-conscious crowd by the shape of the glass i.e. long and slim glasses ;P

Shake Room...and there's a room for kids where the place actually shakes. The WHOLE place actually can be designed to be a bit lopsided so it's an experience to just walk in there because it's all shook up! Like a shake! Imagine that, everything off balance, it looks like it's going to break off and conform to gravity BUT it doesn't! Ahhh...sorta like a shake fantasy land for yet just right :)

Shakes are quirky and sweet, but they can also ;P~ Hey, I'm in advertising! Sex sells, but just be subtle about it back home, because that's the best approach anywhere :P~~

11/18/2006 12:43:00 AM  
Blogger Equalizer said...

Anonymous: Do you live in a gingerbread house too? :p

intlxpatr: Mmmm i love gazpachos. Kuwaiti bouillabaisse? Well thats a bit of a challenge, but i guess its doable.

1001nights: Healthy food shortage? Mmm well a shortage is relative to size of demand. How big is the market for tasty health food? People have this idea that health food tastes bad. A good idea is something like this Now I do expect someone to learn from this and actually does it.....with passion.

erzulie: I'm getting nausious just thinking about it hehe Maybe you can do something like that and see how it goes eh?

11/20/2006 03:45:00 PM  
Blogger Zaydoun said...


In NYC, Italian sounding names are great if you want to project a Euro aspirational sensibility. You read Laboratorio del Gelato and instantly your mind takes you to a cafe in Rome or Capri

For Kuwait, go with the easy name. But Shake Lab might be read Sheikh Lab :-P

11/25/2006 03:39:00 PM  
Anonymous BamBam said...

Hey i have a concept for Kuwait, and it would work amazingly here in kuwait. its called Last Supper, and the slogan should be, "Don't die on an empty stomach, will kill you ourselves". 99.9% of kuwaiti restraunts could be subsituted and given that name, lousy food, lousy service and lousy design, you wont have to spend a penny, i can even get 4 indians to change the outdoor signs for you. Some restraunts menu's look tastier then the food they serve. Go for originalty and not copy and paste and franchise and bring from lebanon. So sick of that. thank god for companies like Gastronomica.

9/08/2007 08:44:00 AM  

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