Just as we were getting ready to run this post, our regular reader RJ also pointed this out in his comments on our previous post.
Notwithstanding our previous posts (read here and here) about habit change and how companies/ marketers need to adapt themselves to ensure the habits are in tune with the changing lifestyles of consumers – here’s an example of a category evolved over time, that both contributed and adapted to changing consumer lifestyles.
First there were only Vadilal, Dinshaw, Kwality & Amul Ice-creams (limited flavors, standard packaging, uncomplicated parlors), then the homemade and the more high-end ice-creams like Naturals, Baskin Robbins hit the Indian markets. And then came Gelato. Consumers were exposed to different options in the category. With exposure to each new option, their palettes also evolved from the processed chocolate and vanilla essence to the delicate flavors of fresh vanilla bean extract, dark Belgian chocolate and fresh fruit flavors. More options also exposed them to the pros and cons of the new offerings. Consumers started realizing the ill-effects (fat, calorie content in regular ice-creams) and got more weight conscious and were fast adopting the Gelato, a low calorie alternative.
Similarly, earlier, yogurt was made at home. Then some households switched over to buying readymade yogurt with the option of regular and slim. The trend to follow was flavored yogurt. Neighborhood grocery stores now offer 3 brands of flavored yogurt – Nestle, Danone and the latest entrant in the arena is Go.
The convergence of the changes in ice-cream and yogurt categories has led to the latest trend to hit the market – hip frozen yogurt shops such as Cocoberry, Yogurtbay and Fro-Yo. Of these, YogurtBay seems to be the most popular hang-out for youngsters; any time of the day (or night) if you go by these shops, you literally need to squeeze your way in to get your hands on some very seasonal fruit-, gourmet-flavored yogurt with contemporary toppings like granola, muesli, praline and jelly. They are cool (in taste and attitude), contemporary, non-preachy about health and they are the new buzzword in town.
Health benefit is probably intrinsic to the cross-category of evolved ice-creams and yogurt. Yogurtbay mentions the health benefit (fat free) almost as an afterthought, in the small print at the bottom of the poster.
P.S – On my trip to the US this summer, I noticed the same trend there. Every street corner had a frozen yogurt store – not one of these was there when I last visited 5 years ago. Same concept, but executed differently. It’s a self-service concept – first you pick the size of cup, go over to the yogurt dispensing machines (remember the softy machines, these are the same type), take as small or large squirts of the flavors that appeal to you, mix how many ever flavors you like, go over to the toppings counter and add all you like and want, weigh the cup and pay accordingly. Fabulously executed, you get exactly what you want, in what proportion you want and how much you want.
Do you think this format would work in India? Or are we too dependent on asking people to serve us that this self-serve, self-decision on yogurt flavors and topping mix would just be too much to handle?!?!
The self-service concept would work in India if there is a server manning the dispensers. The novelty factor would work but Indian consumers just don’t like self-service. Even in fast food places or coffee shops there ends up being servers catering to people. There could be two reasons for this. 1. Indians tend to have domestic help at home and are not inclined towards helping themselves. We probably expect the same when we go out to eat. 2. If a certain household does not have domestic help that is probably why they go out – to take a break from doing things themselves. Self-service would probably only work in college campuses or places which cater to a younger crowd.
Is frozen yogurt as healthy as they claim it is? I tend to go for plain yogurt with muesli (clean and simple) at YogurtBay. The mango was really good as well but they should also come up with saffron flavored yogurt which might taste like shrikand or some other traditionally Indian flavors. It would be nice if they had a way for their customers to vote for different flavors every week and they would serve up the winning flavor for the whole following week. It would not only keep people coming back more often but also help them innovate and keep up with trends.
You are right about Indians preferring to be served. When Barista had first started in India, they were quite strict about self-service policy but over time they completely changed over to serving people. Self -service in a yogurt parlor type setting (viewed as a hip, cool joint) would surely be viewed as a novelty, not as a regular, common concept.
Also, I’ve noticed in yogurt shops in India, that consumers aren’t very experimental and typically just opt for the suggested toppings on the menu or ask just add one topping suggested by the server or ask to put everything on their yogurt. This is something I’ve noticed even at Subway, where people ask the servers to add all the sauces to their sub! This is also another reason why in a self-service setting in India, one would need a person manning the toppings counter – to guide them about different combinations of yogurt and toppings they could try.
About your suggestion to Yogurt Bay – I would like to add that not only do they need to keep innovating yogurt flavors, but also toppings. While I was in the US, I saw some really unusual toppings like bubble tea, french vanilla and hazelnut flavored coffee powders, coconut shavings, rice cakes, and even salted pretzels! Ofcourse these worked there because these things are popular there, but perhaps yogurt places in India could also think outside the box and introduce some innovative toppings.
looks like a workable format to me … the ‘self service’ bit here would ‘add’ to the experience v/s being seen as a nuisance .. and small kiosks have low breakevens and woudl work well in high traffic malls … interesting .. esp if the price points are attractive enough for anyone to have a go …
Thanks for your comment.
I agree, the self-service format would work especially in malls and premium locations. These are places which are suited for people looking for an “experience” while shopping or hanging out and self-service would only “add” to the cool, hip experience of the yogurt store.
As for the price point – i think they are quite competitively priced, not just to ice-creams and gelato but to premium coffee houses like Costa Coffee or Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. That said, currently they offer much less of an experience than these coffee shops do. Most of these yogurt places are quite small and in the post i mentioned that one really needs to squeeze their way into the store. When you look at the category it is in, most ice-creams parlors and gelato stores are also the same and hardly offer any seating space, but perhaps these yogurt places should look outside of their category and look at places they could act as substitues for (such as coffee houses) and let the customers enjoy their yogurts in the cool, contemporary stores that they have sold in instead of quickly running back to their cars and eating them there. Perhaps this has to do with the space constraint and high rents in Mumbai.
Hi Gambo and Roshni !
Gambo, nice to see you regularly visiting our blog, I noticed you’d liked another post before. Do keep dropping by, it’s great fun to be interacting on the blog.
About the yogurt places, being a regular visitor, I feel that Roshni has a point about these being competitively priced relative to coffee places. The only problem I find is that you can’t ‘hang out’ with friends here ‘coz there is just not enough place. I think if Barista and CCD can afford some seating place, so can the yogurt guys. I’ve seen enough youngsters buying super-duper chocolate jungle kind of yogurts with plenty of toppings that cost close to Rs. 200 (sigh ! unlike old, overweight me that sticks to healthy plain yogurt), that’s the same as a coffee and a sandwich at a coffee-place, so why not give the same atmosphere and have them sit there and order many of these ?
p.s. My hope – ‘Yogurt Bay’ at Bandstand, alongside CCD and Barista !
I left that suggestion on Yogurtbay’s fb wall and they got back to me saying that they are working on something similar and will be launching it as soon as they have new flavors. I keep reading about how companies are getting closer to their consumers through social media and this is my first time experiencing that. I am quite convinced that it’s going to be (if it isn’t already) the next wave in marketing. For one, it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.
Would love to see what Yogurt Bay finally comes up with for your suggestion. If you hear from them about the same, do keep us posted.
There are several companies in India and abroad, who are trying to use crowdsourcing, and using it as a very effective marketing tool. We have a post coming up soon on the topic, so stay tuned.
And we think that social medis is already they big wave in marketing … waiting to see what, where and how Google+ is going to take this wave forward.
Am chiming in to second what Roshni said, do keep us posted on news from Yogurtbay. Would like to see whether they follow up with you.
Also, with reference to your first comment, I don’t know whether saffron flavoured yogurt or shrikhand type would really be a hit with the hip young crowd that frequents these places. Might actually detract from the cool, young image that they’ve built; not sure that it would, but it might.
As promised, our post on Crowdsourcing is up on the blog. Looking forward to your comments….
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I think the concept of self-serve yogurt would definitely work. There’s a place in Pune that has been able to do this (somewhat) successfully.
And I think that’s the best thing to do! I can’t stand getting charged separately for 3 different toppings when the *total* quantity of the toppings is the same as if I’d gotten any single one.
Thanks for your comment.
Hopefully, yogurt places across India are listening….
@ 1D – Which place in Pune are you referring to ? I stay in Pune, so I wanted to go and try this place. Thank You 🙂
We are overwhelmed by the interest your blog and readers have in our establishment. We hear you on the space constraint, and the main hurdle is the fact that the Carter Rd. store is our first one. When we opened, we had no clear picture of what to expect in terms of response from the market, but we hoped for the best, and no doubt, it has been even better than that. For our next stores which are currently in the works and launching in the next few months, we have addressed the space problem and hope our customers will like it.
As for the self service option, we gave it a consideration before we launched and ruled against it because of two main reasons. Firstly, we were launching a new product that many of our clientele hadn’t been exposed to much if at all, because of that, till today, many of our visitors at the store still need a brief description of what is in in what flavor or topping, this means waiting in line for others who might also be trying to decide what to pick, and if you know about the Bombay climate, you know that your yogurt will be liquid by the time you get to the weighing scale on which it should be weighed and billed. Add to the fact that solids and liquids have different densities, therefore you will be getting a weight reading that doesn’t necessarily correspond with what you served as a semi solid swirl. Secondly, for self service, you need space where the customers can queue, the toppings have to be spread out it a line along which they walk and serve, and owing to real estate constraints at the time we started, that was not feasible for us.
On the issue of new flavors and toppings, we are paying attention to our customers suggestions, and some of them have even already been implemented in new flavors that we have launched since the store’s opening earlier this year. We do intend to keep getting innovative with our servings, and we’ll keep listening to the conversations, we are humbled and highly appreciate all you inputs : )
Thanks for responding to all our and our readers’ suggestions.
We understand the constraints and limitations that a new venture, especially in Mumbai, can pose and appreciate that you are taking into consideration consumer feedback for your upcoming stores. About the self-service option – we saw on your facebook page that you did give self- service a try (i think on Independence day). But I have been to your store multiple times and seen customers struggle with what to order and what toppings to pair with it and spending a lot of time asking your guys about what to opt for etc. So i hear you on the unfamiliar territory for clientele and hence self-service not being a good option (atleast yet).
I am following your facebook page, and am glad to see new flavors added each day (I’m a huge fan of the berry flavor myself :-)) as well as followers contributing suggestions and you guys taking them up often enough.
Keep up the good work, and all the best with your venture. Hoping to see an outlet in South Bombay soon…
Thanks for the detailed comment on the blog – we love reading comments and interacting with people, and it’s great to have brands / businesses interact too, especially when it’s brands that we like.
Totally understand the space constraint you must have faced while setting up your first outlet. Looking forward to seeing more yogurtbay outlets so every customer doesn’t have to travel to Bandra for their yogurtbay fix.
A loyal (and frequent) customer at the store, totally love the flavours you have,
[…] July 2011, we ran a post on the growing popularity of frozen yogurt in India in our post called “New Buzzword in Town – Frozen Yogurt”. We recently came across an article in Business Today that talks about new entrants in the […]
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Glad you liked the post.
For more articles on the same topic, you can go through our posts titled ‘updates’, am sure we’ve run some updates with info on frozen yogurt.
In fact, here’s the link to one – http://escape-velocity-blog.com/2012/12/28/updates-2/ ; the second half of this has links to articles on the frozen yogurt market in India.
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