Saturday, June 6, 2009

[Young] Adult Ice Cream Truck

As I discussed the Cooking versus Eating blog post, especially for younger generations, eating is becoming more about the social and entertainment experiences. I came across a great example of this in an article about the Fojol Brothers of Merlindia, a food truck in Washington DC. You may ask yourself, how could a food truck be a social and entertaining eating example? Here's how...

Make it fun

Much like the summer sounds of the neighborhood ice cream truck, the Fojol Brothers brightly decorated truck plays circus music. And the fun doesn't stop there, the Fojol Brothers get-ups - fake mustaches and bright gloves to match their psychedelic turbans communicate a fun tone. There is no confusion with any other mobile food trucks I am sure.

Make it exclusive

Fojol Brothers’ menu captures exotic fare from Merlinda. Ever had some of the native dishes of Merlinda? No? Largely because it doesn’t exist. The food takes clues from Indian dishes but the key is that it is unique. This uniqueness adds to the “Eating” experience as customer discover new foods that they cannot get anywhere else or recreate easily at home.

Make it targeted

Another aspect of the unique experience is defined by the hours of operation. Ever notice how the ice cream truck seems to appear just after dinner on nice summer evenings? Fojol Brothers are not available during weekday lunch hours for the masses but instead target weekend evenings through late night, catering to a younger crowd as they frequent bars and parties. By doing so they have made the stop for food part of the night’s social activities.

Make it current

Although the circus music and brightly colored truck are no doubt great for drawing a close by crowd, how can the Fojol Brothers extend the music? Technology of course, Twitter to be specific. From the Washington Post article, "in the case of street food, Twitter becomes an agile, personable tool that's not tethered to a desk." So while most street vendors are tied to specific intersections or pockets of the Mall, the Fojol Brothers of Merlindia usually take a lap around the city before settling on a vacant parking spot and announcing the location on Twitter. "It's a traveling culinary carnival," they yell to pedestrians in popular hangouts (Chinatown, Dupont Circle, Georgetown), waving from the windows as they drive by, blasting playful circus music. Communications is critical when you are a mobile business and change locations day to day. Their location tweets are the ice cream truck music on steroids.

Make it more than just food

Another, perhaps well thought out, part of the Fojol Brothers offering is their environmental position. Much of the research in which I have been a part of and those I have reviewed indicates the importance of the environment to the Gen Y demographic. Whether knowingly or not, the Fojol Brothers strong stance on the environment fits perfectly with their target customers.

So what can you learn from the Fojol Brothers?

A couple things, I think, first sometimes targeting everyone means you target no one. Although an ice cream truck may make a few sales in the middle of the day, clearly the best time for their customers is right after dinner. Also the exclusivity of the ice cream truck pass by made it special. Fojol Brothers know that the bulk of their customers are Gen Yer’s you are out enjoying themselves on the weekend. Target your customer even if that means missing many other potential customers. Second, although I am sure their food is very good (they searched the DC area for a chef) the big attraction is the experience and not just the food. Add a richer, entertaining experience to whatever you are selling.

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