After introducing Korea’s most well-known popcorn ice cream brand– Sweet Monster–to Thailand, Jarujit Baiyoke eyes on expanding the master franchise with a few more branches around Bangkok and the provincial areas.
by Rich Kantita.
The vice chairman of Baiyoke is the CEO’s daughter, Jarujit Baiyoke. She is in charge of the newest addition to the Baiyoke Group, the Hua Chang Heritage Hotel. But Jarujit has another passion: one that involves one of Korea’s famous ice-cream brands, Sweet Monster, which she introduced almost a year ago to Thailand. Now a master franchise license holder of the brand, she explains the coming together of this partnership to Look East.
“My brother and I bring into Thailand things that we are fans of,” she says. “When I was studying at Le Cordon Bleu in Korea, I enjoyed trying all kinds of desserts there, and I enjoyed Sweet Monster the most.Sweet Monster not only has a unique identity in its animated cartoon designs; but also, it has many different flavors. As a dessert lover, I consider it the best.”
Of course, she has tried other ice cream brands before deciding that Sweet Monster would worthy as a business investment.
“Not too many people know the difference between the ice creams they are having.” she explains. “Most of the ice cream catering companies in Bangkok are soft-serve. Soft-serve ice cream is light due to the special freezing process that is used in making them, and also because of the percentage of the milk fat ingredient.”
Apparently, the ice cream’s rich texture and flavor derives from making it with 75 percent good quality milk.
Sweet Monster was the first to experiment with popcorn and ice cream. The smartness of the concept is inescapable, as is the creativeness in the brand’s graphic designs. People walk into a Sweet Monstere store and are excited to try out the ice cream because of the fun graphics used in the branding. But what makes them return is the rich taste, which is achieved through the quality of milk and the processing. People like Sweet Monster’s texture and flavors, and enjoy the servings, which are larger than those in other ice cream places at about 200 grams per serving.
The most expensive investment in this business, Jarujit adds, is the importation of equipment. “We import quality ice cream machines, the air-pop machine to make the popcorn, the popcorn, and other ingredients,” she says. “That explains why we have such high quality product.
“Intricate details are needed when mixing and putting the popcorn ice cream into shape,” she adds. “Some people do not like eating popcorn because of the trouble it gives them: chewing it and having it sticking to their teeth. Our air-pop machine makes the popcorn lighter and less sticky, another important aspect of this brand.”
She admits that the ice cream market in Thailand today is huge and very competitive but there isn’t enough diversity. “Fortunately, Sweet Monster can provide now,” she says.
Overall, there’s an overwhelming feedback (read: demand) for Sweet Monster. “Better than expected,” she points out. “Not only is it popular with kids and teens but also many adults seem to enjoy it as well. Because it is neither too chewy nor too sweet, Sweet Monster attracts a lot of consumers, about 80 percent of whom are Thais. But Japanese and even Korean expats like them as well.
And that is why Jarujit is excited about the expansion. The expansion plans are jumping out of the blueprint this year, and that includes adding new flavors to the menu, such as the green tea and raspberry,”to welcome in the holiday spirit,” she says. Other Sweet Monster products are also being launched, to further diversify the offerings. Soon clients can expect not only ice cream and popcorn but also one of the highlights of this brand, gift products.
Sweet Monster has already two branches in Bangkok: one at J Avenue, a community mall in Thonglor; and another at Siam Paragon. As Sweet Monster gains popularity, a third branch is opening up in a new mall that is still under development, set to open at the beginning of 2016.
Jarujit also wants to expand the business into the provincial areas so that more people can enjoy the “new deliciousness.” Her main targets are the big-populated areas where there are many potential customers.
The ultimate goal is to have at least 15 stores around Thailand soon.
“The good thing about this brand is its quick turnover. Trends in Thailand are changing constantly,” she concludes, “so it is important that each business can expand quickly.”