Monday, December 08, 2008

The Cold Stone experience in Shanghai

So on Saturday I fulfilled my quest to sample the much anticipated Cold Stone ice cream.

It was fantastic: I picked the Founder’s Favourite- sweet cream flavoured ice cream with pecans, brownies, fudge and caramel mashed in on the spot, and served in a thick wafer bowl.

The ice cream was smooth and rich, and the best part was that the ingredients were added in there and then, thus ensuring the nuts remained crunchy and the cake not soggy.

Unfortunately, the matter of price is enough to cause a severe cringe (or two). The medium sized serving of 170g cost me a painful 39 RMB.

Below is a cost comparison between Cold Stone in the US and China:
Medium size serving: 8 oz (US); 6 oz (China)
Price: ~ 4.50 USD; 39 RMB (5.70 USD)
Price per ounce: ~0.56 USD/oz; 6.5 RMB/oz (0.96 USD/oz)

Unlike in the US where Cold Stone stores are common, ice cream parlours are not a very common sight in China. In addition, the live action of mixing ingredients into the ice cream adds a novelty to the entire process, allowing the chain to position itself as a premium brand.

With a booming upper-middle class in Chinese cities, Cold Stone can afford to charge astronomical prices and (probably) turn a profit from those willing to splurge on something out of the ordinary.

WTF. An ice cream commentary just turned into a company analysis…

Anyway, the ice cream was pretty good. It’s quite a different experience from a purist like Mövenpick, concentrating more on giving a mix of flavours and textures in each bite. However, the astronomical price greatly detracts from the overall enjoyment.

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