A few thoughts:
1) The store layout is smart and reminds me of IKEA.
2) SKU selection: I wonder if it really is based on store employees’ choice. If I were managing Picard, I’d use historical data and market surveys to determine what to stock in each store.
3) Overall really impressed by this company. Frozen foods in America is currently synonymous with low quality – there may be a market for Picard here!
Really want to try their food now… think we need to do a trek. Thanks for sharing!
Unsure if “repackaging” is meant to be a criticism, but either way I believe remixing is fine and legitimate on its own. I’m thinking Mod Pizza or Starbucks that are not necessarily new ideas, but use good operational thinking and marketing to create value. Also Girl Talk. However, I think this company goes beyond repackaging – it’s applying technology to an industry that hasn’t been very tech-enabled. Uber did this with transportation, Airbnb with lodging.
The high involvement point is fascinating, and I don’t have a great response. I tend to see the high involvement as a point of differentiation from other services like you mentioned “where the commitment is relatively low.” In one of the articles I cited, the founder talks bout experimenting with different price points and found that when the price is too low, people would bail on dates because it was only like $50. So there may be something in asking users (who are dates to other users) to be committed to the experience.
1) I think the labor-intensive shared economy model in tech is actually becoming quite prevalent, but perhaps this is a feature of a macro economy with plenty of slack in its labor force. TaskRabbit, Uber, Gigwalk, Postmates, Instacart – all these are companies that rely heavily on human labor, most of them underemployed. Granted, these other services are not as high touch, but the prices are proportional to effort required.
The other part of your concern is that skilled labor is harder to scale, but I think scale can be big here: maybe you simply need a lot of outgoing people as matchmakers to find dates, and you can centralize the date ideas generation by having a small core team come up with most date ideas.
Finally, I think CRM software can really amplify the time the matchmakers spend on the “high touch” interactions, providing a highly personal experience with less amount of work.
2) Great question. I see this as high end online dating rather than cheap matchmaking and not stuck in the middle at all. I think most of their customers wouldn’t consider using a traditional matchmaker but have been online dating/app dating users, so their price anchoring is to $100 dating sites and not the multi-thousand dollar matches.
One thing I wonder about is the pricing aspect. The 100JPY/plate price feels like great marketing, much like dollar stores that we studied in other classes. However, over time, many dollar stores start offering multiple price points due to inflation or maybe product variety. I wonder how prices have changed since 1975 and how they might change in the future.
I also wonder if there’s also an opportunity to use consumer mobile technology to increase operational efficiency. For example, a mobile app that:
1) Allows users to order using a more familiar technology than proprietary touch screens
2) Save preferences so their favorite dishes show up more prominently
3) Pay bills easily with saved payment information that reduces cashier labor costs
Thanks for this, Tak. I learned a lot!