In my early days growing up, while still studying, I would always return back from school to see my aunt making ice creams. I loved ice creams so much that my mouth watered at the thought of it so much I looked forward to coming back home. The thought of the tasty vanilla cream just kept fueling my excitement that I always raced back home from school without so much of “goodbye, see you tomorrow” to my buddies at school.
Well of course, I could always get some vanilla and other flavored ice creams at school, but it was nothing compared to what my aunt always whipped up. This I could very well tell anyone then, there is no ice cream like the ones at home.
The fondness for the ice cream was not only exuded by me, my younger brother was equally also ever fond of it. And since my aunt lives with us, whenever I was around, I always had a bowl of my thick vanilla ice cream in our fridge.
My God!!, even the thought of it now still reminds me of the taste. (I bet I just whipped my tongue around my upper lip smacking them together with the thought of an imaginary cream on it)
If you were familiar with the sub-Saharan weather, the coming of the dry season always coincided with school holidays, myself and my brother in our usual ritual of hanging around while our aunt concocted the mix of ingredients in her delectable way of making the ice-cream as though we were struck with lightning simultaneously caught up the idea and in an instant, we said to each other, “why don’t we commercialize this ice cream?” Well technically we didn’t use the same words, but we both said what translated to the quote above.
Immediately the dry season holidays started, we set to work. We made the same vanilla flavored ice cream using my aunt’s recipe in small quantity and went out gifting it to the kids in our neighborhood telling them we now sell ice creams inviting them to come buy from us anytime.
This little marketing activity quickly returned huge for us as we started getting orders and from one to two to hundreds, but unfortunately, we didn’t produce much of it on that first day and asked them to come the following day. The next day saw our neighbor’s kids queuing up to clean out our whole production for that day. I and my brother were beyond shocked. That ushered in a season of unprecedented sales and of course hard work from us that brought in some nice greens which made the resumption of school come with much anticipation as I bought a nice school bag, sleek shoes and some nice toys I couldn’t wait to show off to my classmates .
Back to the story. When our production ran out the following day, we decided to purchase some more ingredients to increase our capacity. While we went to the local store, people started staring at us and right there, it dawned on us, we were Ice Cream celebrities. Just a lane line huh? I figured. As we were about going out, a man approached us asking if we would make more the following day as his kid couldn’t just shut up about how tasty our product was and that she wanted more the next day.
Fly to the next day, our sales increased and so it continued that even at the very early hours of the day, we were thronged with plethora of customers trooping in in pairs and triples. Our very loyal and faithful customers. You don’t buy them. Your good product advertises itself, our chests were almost bursting with pride and satisfaction. Seeing how it could even affect their health by taking it too early in the morning, we had to advise them to avoid eating ice cream so early in the day asking them to come buy later when our recipe was at its Prime Taste. (We didn’t want our customers to feel bad about the health effect of early morning consumption). This act gave us the respect of the kids parents and they eventually became our customers too.
As we noticed we were gradually gaining grounds from just one recipe, we decided to try something else. We came up with a new product, an amazing taste which we came about by blending a mix of flavours but never considered applying the intelligence of our first product to market. We went straight into production and started selling immediately. At first, the children were buying, so we thought this is our killer recipe. Our very own recipe engineered by the Ice-cream barons, leading to us abandoning our Vanilla Flavored Ice Cream and just focusing on this new one.
As time went by, we started discovering spoilage of our products which was indicative of poor sales. At first we shrugged it off that perhaps it’s just an isolated case, not willing to face reality, the stark reality of low sales. Our small sales outlet which was buzzing with the ever lively activities of kids dancing about waiting to collect their day’s boon started appearing like an abandoned boat shack.
Noticing how bad things were going, we called some of our friends and asked what’s their perception of M & P Creams out there, their response gave us the clear picture. We created a product people were not willing to buy. At first, we thought we were making sales on our new product, but in reality, this terrible product was only riding on the waves of our humble and gracious Vanilla ice cream.
We have created a product people were not willing to buy.
The reason was quite simple. We didn’t research what our market wanted. Fraught with the over excitement bug we ran and zealously created what we liked and thought the market will like also. Once we saw this, we reverted back to our old love. We started again by announcing One free Vanilla Flavored Ice Cream to everyone who purchased two in a day. This gave us the needed boost that saw us through the remainder of the holidays.
As I grew up and after studying failures and successes of businesses, I have come to realize that, market research is imperative for the success of any product else founders / entrepreneurs will end up wasting resources in creating a product that no one will be willing to pay for.
This is why I give the same advice to any aspiring entrepreneur. Carefully do your homework before committing your money or/and other people’s money. While we were able to get around our failure as we were still very very young, those with family or loan commitments could face harder odds if failure knocks them down.
Market research is imperative for the success of any product else founders / entrepreneurs will end up wasting resources in creating a product that no one will be willing to pay for.
I learnt my mistake just from our M & P Creams. I think the board we wrote the name of our business is still in our family house garage. If you want to have a taste of our popular Vanilla Flavored Ice Cream, just call me. Hmmmm Nah!! Send a limousine to pick it up.