24 February 2013
Wanna Make the World Dance, Forget about the Price Tag
I've got a bit of a bee in my bonnet concerning some customer feedback we've had recently and I'd like to address that in this post. So I'm warning you that I'm about to get on my soapbox. If you're not interested, you can just look at the pretty pictures that accompany this post!
First off, I am 100% interested in what you have to say -- both the good and the bad -- as I know there is always room for improvement, and I think it's important to take every customer comment into consideration. I am absolutely delighted by the comments we've received via social media outlets (facebook, tripadvisor, yelp, etc.) and in store; I am amazed by the number of familiar faces I see walking through our door -- I consider it the highest compliment that our customers keep coming back for more. But....we seem to get criticized frequently about our prices and I've grappled with how to respond to this without coming across as overly defensive.
I worked in advertising for about 10 years as an account planner. One of the biggest parts of my job was knowing at any moment how the brands I was charged with fared in the marketplace -- via both customer tracking studies and competitive analyses. I have carried much of what I learned to Sugar Daze; I keep a strong focus on my business and I try to keep abreast of what other cupcakeries in Paris are doing -- it just makes sense. Based on our research of similarly sized products available for sale in brick and mortar shops in Paris, our prices are competitive and totally in-line. The highest price you will pay in our bake shop for a cupcake is 3,80 whether you eat-in or take-out; our chocolate and vanilla cupcakes are priced at 3,65. We know of several shops where the standard price for a cupcake is 4 euros and above. We've also been running a promotion since November that effectively brings down your cost to 3,50 per cupcake (a box of 6 cupcakes is 21 euros). There are very few shops selling the same size cupcakes as ours that match this price. (PS if you are a regular, you may have noticed an extra cupcake or two magically appear in your box from time to time -- it's just our way of saying thank you! AND we offer further price reductions on large volume orders.).
Now let's talk about added value. So many customers tell us our cupcakes are moist and light, not dry and dense like other cupcakes they have tried. Do you know why? It's no big secret... we bake our cupcakes FRESH on-premises EVERY MORNING. That means when you buy a Sugar Daze cupcake, it hasn't been sitting around for days on end getting hard and dry -- it's been baked in the past several hours. I will also personally guarantee that you will never get a cupcake that has been refrigerated or worse, frozen and thawed, to increase its longevity in our shop. This is something we are quite fanatic about.
Something else we are fanatic about? The quality of our ingredients. We don't take short cuts, we don't use mixes, or buy industrial pre-made genoise, we don't buy bottom-shelf brands, and we don't use preservatives. Nielsen-Massey vanilla, Callebaut chocolate, Fererro-Rocher Nutella, Lotus Speculos cream, Oreo cookies, President butter, St Louis sugar -- these are just some of the products that go into our cupcakes. We try to avoid synthetic flavorings (though our I Want Cotton Candy cupcake has become quite the belle of the ball!) preferring natural ingredients, real nuts, fresh fruit, home-made infused syrups -- those specks of yellow in your She Wore Lemon cupcake? Lemon zest! The crunch in the Raspberry Beret cupcake? Those are real pistachios in there -- you can actually see them -- check it out! Oh and don't get me started on eggs. We ONLY use those laid by free-range hens. The practice of battery caging hens is cruel and makes my skin crawl, and I absolutely refuse to support the producers who do this. All this may make the cost to produce our cupcakes higher than some other places but I honestly believe you can taste the difference. As my old boss used to say : GIGO (Garbage In Garbage Out).
Lastly, we believe that the look of the cupcake is just as important as the taste. We like to dress up our cupcakes and have fun with the design. If you've come in the shop on a quieter day, you may have noticed Chris or I behind the counter hand-making decorations. This is one of the things that I think really sets our cupcakes apart. We're not content with store-bought decorations or unadorned cupcakes. We continually look to surprise and delight our customers, and I think the number of people alone who stop to photograph the cupcakes in our window, or in the shop case, proves we're doing a pretty good job. I've been to cupcake shops where you'll pay more for a cupcake that's been topped with a small fondant heart or duck cut-out. Not at Sugar Daze! It's part of our everyday presentation, and if it's not too busy, we're been known to make and add a customized decoration on the spot for no extra charge.
With all this said, I am sure we will continue to have customers who think our prices are whack. That's okay -- I also know from my advertising days that you can't please all of the people all of the time. Bottomline, my feeling on this is that we offer an outstanding product for the price AND we continue to keep our prices competitive. On the opposite side of the coin, I'm thankful that we also have customers who believe we offer an excellent value equation (we hear this frequently too). Okay, I've said my piece. Thanks for listening and have a good Sunday!