Continuing to have innovative originality and ingenuity in sweets creates psychological interaction with people at the same time.
Please tell me about when you opened “Dominique Ansel Bakery”.
I started with only four staff members. However, we encouraged ourselves and never stopped creating new pasties. At that time, we have great sweets but continued to add changes in our menu with our innovative originality and ingenuity. By doing so, I believed that I would be able to create “psychological interaction” with people.
What is the psychological interaction you mention?
Well…….. Everybody talks about Cronut but I would like to talk about FROZEN S` MORE which we started selling right after Cronut as an example.
When you take a bite, it is very crunchy and warm like caramels but soon after it becomes like marshmallowy like creme brulee. When you reach the ice cream which is inside the FROZEN S` MORE, you will be surprised with the coldness and new sensation.
S`MORE is very famous in America and it used be a desert that everybody likes to eat in camp fire. However, we do not have S`MORE in France where I grew up. I did not even know it until I came to America. When I learnt this America`s local culture, I thought I would need to learn about S`MORE.
This culture did not exist when I was a childhood but I truly wanted to understand the culture. Learning even local cultures and assimilate in my pastries and produce new sweets. I feel “psychological interaction” with people through pastries when I see customers being fascinated by eating the sweets.
This is one of Dominique`s original pastries. To reduce calories, sugar is not used and honey-made marshmallows are wrapped with ice cream. Smoked apples bunch is stuck in it with roasted chocolate flakes.
It is not possible to change people’s preferences. The important thing is to pursue new ideas and continue to work hard.
What did you feel when Cronut, which you obtained a trademark registration, was chosen as “one of the greatest innovation in 2013”?
At first, we made Cronut only weekends and made and sold 15. Our kitchen was as the same size as a table, like one Tatami mat.
Two days after we started selling Cronut, we had about 200 customers lining up in front of the shop every morning. There were some who started fights so we needed to hire security guards. We called that time as “Cronut`s Chaos”. (w)
I think that time was the most difficult time in my experience. I needed to think about making both customers who are lining up to buy our sweets and our staff members happy. There were only four staff members at that time so I could not let any one of them to quit the shop. As a owner of the shop, it was the only thing I was thinking all the time. In the result, our team members worked hard in a team and we were able to solve each one of the difficulties we were facing. This experience made us grow for sure and this is the most important experience for me still.
Cronut became extremely popular as soon as you started selling them. So did you use any specific marketing strategy to sell them?
SNS was already popular at that time but we were not afforded to do any marketing because we needed to focus on making Cronut for customers every day.
The reason why Cronut became so popular is that a blogger in Grubstreet promoted Cronut in his blog. On that day, he called us saying that “you will be busy this weekend so need to be fully prepared.” I asked about the situation and found out that the access to his website was over one hundred and forty thousand. (w) Customers always help us still.
A Blog run by New York Magazine which shares restaurants and food.
That’s an amazing story! How about the marketing strategy at the moment?
We promote our products using some SNS and Instagram! Have you visited my Instagram page? I always post a photo of sweets which I think it is good to photograph after tasting them. I also think it is important to communicate with customers and inform them of what we have been doing.
Did you feel it would be a huge hit when you finally created a combination sweet, Cronut?
Who could say “This product is going to be extremely popular”. Even if you pay a lot of money to use strategic marketing, you can`t change people’s preferences. Cronut is the same thing.
This is one of my ideas and I did not believe at all if this pastry would become so popular.
I do not think Cronut is everything. I do not give up on creating something greater and do not satisfy where we are right now.
You are called “Gogh in food industry” from your rich power of ideas. Where does the power of idea come from when making a new pastry which always steals the scene in the industry?
The most important thing is “thinking about something new always, encouraging yourself and continuing to work hard.” If you are always open minded, you will receive a lot of inspiration from customers and find them in your life.
For example, I came up with an idea of COOKIE SHOT when I came to New York and saw people dipping cookies in milk. I had an idea of FROZEN S’ MORE from roasting marshmallows in camp fire.
I prefer to go out and see what is going on in the city to stay in the kitchen. Even when I walk on the street, or travel, I always think. I think all day in my daily life and it becomes the driving force for my innovation.
I change Cronuts` flavors every month and try not to make the same thing again. I thought about more than 100 new products within a year after I opened the shop in Tokyo.