Will it survive this time?22 May, 2011 by Chad
Yesterday, the largest ice cream global chain Baskin Robbins reopened its first outlet in Singapore. As promised when we announced the launch of Baskin Robbins Singapore, we were there among the first customers to give it a try.
Baskin Robbins is now located at Clementi Mall, which officially opened on the same day. Clementi is of course one of Singapore’s oldest neighborhoods and up until recent years the suburb (or heartland as they prefer to call it here) lacked a proper mall to call its own. We infringed upon the locals of this suburban sprawl, many whom obviously didn’t want to put in the effort to change out of their pajamas just to visit the new mall. Strange place to launch a first outlet? Definitely.
Perhaps it was foolish of me to think that Baskin Robbins’ choice to locate itself outside of the city was to allow it to retain its normal prices. You see, globally Baskin Robbins is to ice cream as Mcdonalds is to fast food. It doesn’t market itself as being premium. Instead Baskin Robbins is better known for its generous variety of flavors and being just about everywhere. Obviously, the local licensee didn’t get the memo.
With location out of the question, the prices of ice cream were also ridiculously steep. Single scoops (4 oz) started at $5, with half scoops (2.5 oz) costing $4. Doubles, which were two half scoops (2.5 oz x 2) cost $6.
Single scoop waffle cones, like the one I previously had back in Tokyo, were priced between $9.50 to $10.50. Effectively double what it costs in Japan. Toppings were halved too. Smoothies, cost $9.50 too.
Now, for some reason or other ice cream prices are generally rather steep in tropical Singapore with common brands like Ben & Jerry’s and Haagen Daaz being the equivalent of dairy gold. But this is no way to promote yourself in the already saturated market.
True enough, despite being launch day. Baskin Robbins was getting a pretty poor show of customers. Many stopped to rest at their seats without purchasing anything and many more were standing around asking for free samples but no one was actually willing to pay the premium for the ice cream. Something tells me that they didn’t need 7 counter staff just to serve ice cream today. Because in the rare occasion when someone actually wanted some ice cream, none of they responded.
It took myself at least a minute standing in front of the counter before they wondered what I was doing there. Others had to resort to shouting for attention. When you consider how small ice cream shops are, you’d realize how silly this is. Maybe they ought to cut down staffing and use some of that pay toward reducing the prices.
With everything so far in mind, you’d think I’d be hating my experience at Baskin Robbins so far. But that’s not exactly the case. When it comes down to the ice cream, it’s still the same thick and creamy texture that we had come to expect from Baskin Robbins.
The local franchise carries all of the normal flavors you’d find in branches elsewhere, with the exception of Japan, which has its own added assortment. Still, the available flavors ought to satisfy basic needs. Like elsewhere, certain flavors are rotated each month. With this month’s only unique ice cream being a cherry swirl flavor. Could it get any more unexciting? There are also 5 additional fruity flavors of sorbet.
Today Yan had a single scoop ($5) of their Cotton Candy ice cream, the only novelty flavor that was available. He likened it to the nostalgia of “Rainbow Paddle Pops”, but with consistency of what ice cream ought to be.
Myself, I had two half scoops ($6) to try their Very Berry Strawberry and Old Fashion Butter Pecan (a note to the local store if you’re reading this, you guys labelled it wrongly) flavors.
Right now, if you happen to live at Clementi itself then you’re in luck. When it comes to ice cream, Baskin Robbins doesn’t disappoint. But with so many other options, it’s definitely not a feasible option to travel down to Clementi just for an ice cream fix. Yet, Baskin Robbins will be opening another far off neighborhood outlet at Novena Square on the 24th of May. Finally, whether Singaporeans will be willing to accept the prices is still yet to be seen.
Supermerlion's Webmaster and Editor-in-Chief. Singaporean Nikkeijin with over 12 years of experience in the media industry. Producer at a Japanese entertainment company. Former Web Developer, Graphic Designer, Multimedia Programmer, Manager and Consultant. Shoots with a Canon 5Dmk2.