Saturday, September 16, 2006

Memo to Mak Chin's


To: Mak Chin’s Inc.

From: Ace Restaurant Marketing Corporation

Re: Marketing Strategy (and menu) for new high volume restaurant.

Location. We ruled out locations on Hillcroft and Bellaire Blvd. to avoid competition from inexpensive, authentic Asian restaurants. We recommend Shepherd Drive just south of I-10, an area of growing income and little real competition for a highly marketed restaurant.

Marketing theme. We have successfully marketed and designed menus for stylized, high volume, "Pan-Asian" fast food establishments like Pei Wei and can repeat that success for your restaurant. We recommend calling your new restaurant Mak Chin’s Asian Bistro. The word “bistro” no longer means cozy, casual French food with wine. Instead, it suggests a “classy casual,” “hip”, and “approachable”, upscale, fast food restaurant.

Marketing logo and décor. You want your restaurant to appear safe, yet exciting and sexy. To add “flair”, your menu and marketing photos will depict mid-century photos of Asian pin-up girls. Asian pin-up girls are exotic and wholesome and deliver great sex appeal. For décor, we suggest investing in an oversized wooden entranceway to create the appearance of class and to justify the relatively high prices for your fast food. We also suggest simple interior décor, with lots of wood and red paint. A minimalist décor will hint at Asian design styles, but more importantly, cut your start-up costs.

Condiment bar. The defining food concept for Mak Chin’s will be a condiment bar with at least 16 different types of Asian condiments. The concept has worked great for Taco Cabana and Café Express, and it will be a real innovation in the Asian restaurant genre. Because many consumers are spice-adverse, we recommend you serve bland dishes and then let customers create their own flavors and adjust levels of spice through the condiments. You can give them options like hot chili paste, sweet and sour sauce, grated ginger, jalapenos, and hot Chinese mustard. You also should serve some unusual condiments, like Kim Chee. This high visibility / low consumption item will suggest authenticity, but will cost you very little because no one will actually eat it.

The condiment bar embodies the concept of “consumer freedom.” At Pei Wei, the menu gives consumers the “freedom” to pick the meat to match the sauce. But at Mak Chin’s the condiment bar will give consumers the “freedom” to match basic food choices with their own “flavor profile.” That saves your “chefs” from guessing how to flavor customer's food.

Menu. Our team of marketing specialists has designed a menu of trend-wise "Pan-Asian" dishes. They borrow heavily from the Pei Wei / P.F. Chang’s niche. As P.F. Chang's found, American consumers love familiar dishes, safe ingredients, light spices, and large quantities of sugar. For instance, we suggest “tender pork in garlic sauce -- a stir fry of ordinary pork meat, a tiny hint of garlic, thinly sliced bell peppers, canned bamboo shoots, jicama, and a bland sauce with a lot of sugar. Although the servings will be large, the dish relies on shoots and jicama to add much of the bulk for a very low cost. On the side, you should offer brown rice because consumers think it is “healthy.” We also recommend “classic” sides like hot and sour soup, an egg roll, and a small plate of Chinese mustard and sweet and sour sauce, stylishly swirled together. The price point on this and similar dishes will be in the $9 - $12 range. Our marketing strategy will ensure that consumers are happy to pay this price, even though your costs will be as low a fast food restaurant.

It has been a great pleasure for our corporation to work with your corporation in designing the marketing strategy (and menu) for this new, profitable venture. We anticipate a regional expansion to suburban areas with the opening of multiple new locations within a five-year strategic growth term. We wish you and your shareholders the greatest financial success.

[Author's note: I wrote this based on my initial impression of Mak Chin's. Mak Chin's has now changed, and I like it much more, as I discuss here.]


Anonymous said...

That's great, this could be real if it isn't, otherwise brilliant concept, so true. I work at an ethnic restaurant with food highly spiced, and flavored sufficiently, you would be suprised about people who still ask for salt and pepper, before even tasting it. People do like that "freedom".

Huan said...


Anonymous said...

I knew Mark Twain. Mark Twain was a friend of mine. You, sir, are no Mark Twain!