This past Monday Crumbs bakeries abruptly shut their doors. I cannot resist a little ‘I told you so’ as I wrote about the oddity of the Crumbs IPO when it was announced back in 2011. Crumbs, like Krispy Kreme and Cold Stone Creamery, will most likely re-emerge at some point in the near future as a scaled-down version with far fewer outlets.
It was in my opinion a huge long shot that a single platform concept – high end gourmet cupcakes could be rolled out as a lasting business model. The cupcakes are great and all but not enough people went to them regularly. It’s like that with treats – when they become commonplace they are no longer a treat. I feel the same about smartphone games like Farmvillle (wrote about that too), and more recently Candy Crush from King Entertainment.
So how can you tell the difference between a fad as opposed to a concept or product that has lasting value? It’s not easy but there are more visible signs of overall weakness then there are of future success. I’ve a good friend who is a very successful restaurateur. He and his partner came up with a restaurant concept back in the mid-1990’s that still exists and is in fact thriving today. They’ve since added a second and different restaurant concept and it too is successful and growing.
Are my friend’s restaurant concepts fads? Not in any way. Why? Because their focus has always been on delivering a great and consistent customer experience in every single location (combined the number is approaching twenty). How do they do this? In their case it’s by actually being IN the locations on a regular basis. As the company grows that makes it more difficult – and exhausting, but they are adding quality people to the team who share the desire to maintain the value proposition.
One trick ponies like Crumbs, Krispy Kreme and Cold Stone Creamery have a tall order when it comes to lasting success. I looked into owning a Cold Stone Creamery franchise several years ago but had great difficulty in accepting that being in the U.S. northeast, sales would not die horribly from December through April. Glad I passed on that one.
As I noted last week I think wearable technology is a fad. I just don’t see people continually wearing colorful wireless enabled wristbands/watches displaying information moment to moment. They will try it for a while and like so many fads tire of it and stop. Doesn’t that constitute a fad?
If you have a moment take a look around and please offer your ideas on other things you see as fads and let me know. I’d love to hear.