Mr. Baker is an important company to look out for, for its approach towards creating healthy food for the community. We talk to Mr. Eric Pui on the risks he undertook and rewards he reaps on his endeavour.
Why the decision for the healthy-food market?
I have always wanted to share the food experience I gained from overseas and introduce it to the people here in Brunei. Personally, I find the bread in South East Asia in general, is quite different compare to that of Western Countries, not only in terms of the taste and varieties wise but I notice the Westerners have more choice of healthy stuffs.
Before we decide to open Mr.Baker’s Bakeshop we were well aware that it won’t be a smooth journey as we all know the bakery business is quite competitive in this part of the world. However, we are also aware that people are becoming more health conscious hence, Mr.Baker’s Bakeshop has been set up for 2 main objectives (i) to offer as far as possible a wide selection of healthy bread and pastries to the community and (ii) to create a niche market so that we are able to distinguish ourselves from the rest.
Your bakery does not use dough improver on breads and no stabiliser / emulsifier on cakes. This is contrary to the common practice of most bakeries. For one, your product would have a much shorter expiration date comparing to your competitors. How has this strategy worked out so far?
Frankly, business was tough in the beginning as many consumers are not used to the short expiration date maximum of 3 days only. Besides that, the textures of our bread/cakes are also different, which taste more like homemade. With constant promotion through expo and other media means, our consumers became more knowledgeable about our products and by word of mouth to their relatives and friends, business has picked up recently.
I personally think this strategy has worked out quite successfully. If you notice, our location is not the most strategic, in fact, it’s quite out of the way because there is no nearby shopping mall or crowded area. The customers who patronize with us are those who make special trip to our shop. So there must be reasons why they are making such a special trip and
I believe our healthy concept is what they are looking for.
Heart disease and diabetes are two of the major killers in the country. Clearly, more businesses especially in the food and beverage industry need to step up to take on a more socially responsible role in promoting healthy eating.What can we do as a business community together in catalysing change in the nation’s eating habit?
It sounds challenging but not impossible. We must have the correct mind-set and aligned visionin order to make it work. There are already campaigns or other activities promoting healthy eating which is good, as such activities give us ideas or make us aware and understand the importance of staying healthy through regular exercise and careful diet.
As we have been constantly told to eat healthy food, the question is where can we find the so-called healthy food or are they readily available in the first place? It is essential to make people aware of the importance of healthy eating but it is equally important to encourage food eateries to create more healthy dishes for customers to choose from.
‘Mr. Baker’ was amongst the early adopters of Blog and Facebook as a social media tool to promote its cakes and pastries. How effective has it been? What can other businesses learn from your experience?
Very effective indeed. Customers can make their enquiry online and we try to response to all enquiries as soon as possible. In this way, a strong customer relationship is established. About 30% of our customers are from Facebook and most of our wedding cakes ordered are online as well. If you are to use Facebook as a tool to promote your product, you need to be persistent in updating the status regularly such as any promotions, new products, sharing of useful information etc.
Even if there isn’t much positive result in the beginning, do not give up. However, you have got to make sure the information given online about your product is accurate and make sure customers get what they have paid for.
If it is the first time our reader visits your bakery, what would you recommend for them to try?
You should go for our sovital roll (no sugar/no egg), croissant pastries, California cheese, fresh fruit vanilla cake, chocolate cakes, creamy cheesecake and chicken pie.