The Trending Celebrities’ Cake Phenomenon

Anything that accelerates economy is always good, however, CRK warns us the danger of speeding up.

Celebrities who run side businesses are nothing new. However, the celebrities’ cake trend will catch everyone’s attention when conducted collectively, especially after knowing the fact that the daily sales of this business can reach the monthly sales of other outlets. Chef Rahmat Kusnedi (CRK), The President of Indonesia Pastry Alliance (IPA) explained the history of the celebrity cake trend, with its positive and negative impacts of this nationwide trend.

Who started this celebrity cake trend?

I noticed there are 2 major players: Medan Napoleon by Irwansyah and Malang Strudel by Teuku Wisnu (both are brothers in law). To me, it’s more to the revolution of marketing because it involves business pattern.
Souvenir exists for a long time already, it’s just they manage it conventionally, and it was promoted mouth to mouth. Meanwhile, the social media influence is getting stronger and the celebrities have more free time. Probably, because the film industry is slowing down, or because the piracy in recording industry, but they feel that the fame should have positive impact as they have many followers in social media.

Is this the first phenomenon?
Actually, Harvest started it back in 2000’s with Ari Wibowo. After I studied it, the contract was quite expensive, it may reach up to billions, for new players, the number is huge. What happened was, instead of getting the payment up front, the artists were endorsed and given some shares.

The problem is, these products are not the authentic souvenirs of the region.
They’re not, and they never claim it to be authentic. After those two, the next massive success would be Bandung Makuta, which endorsed Laudya Cynthia Bella. It creates this crazy queue. In a day, they may sell up to thousands of boxes worth Rp 54.000 – Rp 80.000. It’s been going on for 6 months and shows no sign of slowing down.
As a result, this phenomenon disturbs the old players like Kartika Sari and Prima Rasa. It has to be anticipated to avoid friction like what happened to online transportation VS conventional ones. The phenomenon also affects the food service’s distribution network as these celebrities became the main target for distributors because for one item, their orders were counted in containers.

What do the people expect from these products?
The first thing, of course, customers see the figures. When Gigieat by Nagita Slavina opened, she became the cashier and served the customers for the first one or two days. It created long queue, as the people also want to take pictures with her.
And then we’re talking about the products’ quality. This topic also sparks pros and cons because with the take away concept, people who tried the products in the outlet will say that they’re good because they have warm, crispy cakes. On the other hand, if people tried them at home, they will have cold, soggy products. They probably said that the products are not good. It’s a very common case in almost any kind of products.
So, it’s not about the quality of products, it’s about the massive money involved here. The business can even reach BEP (Break Even Point) in only a year, it doesn’t really matter if the trend will go downhill afterward.

I remembered similar trend had happened in 1998 with celebrities’ tent cafes.
Yes, I can say this is a very trending business. Imagine, in Bandung, the sales may reach hundred of millions rupiah in a day, that is the number that can be reached by other brands’ outlets in a month. Of course there will be counter attack by the old players. Nonetheless, the old players have the true and tested mentality; they know the market, the obstacles, the bottlenecks, and the solutions. Even though they might be a bit late in responding to the trend, in the long run they will be more stable and sustainable.

How about the use of the city’s name, do we have regulations regarding this matter?

For naming, we have HAKI (Rights for Intellectual Property), as long as no one used or patented the name, there should be no problem, but they also can’t claimed their products as authentic. Let’s take Malang Strudel for example, why did they use the name “Malang”? Because the city is identical to apple, the fruit used as filling for the products, so they still have connections with the region.

What kind of negative impacts would happen?

We should pay attention to the labor-hijacking trend from hotels and big groups. If one day the trend goes down, can you imagine the impact? To me it’s quite tough, I can even say that the scale is national, just look at other celebrities who start their own businesses in other cities. We’re talking about thousands of labors.
The worst-case scenario would be the saturated market. From the record industry we can learn much about piracy. Actually Bandung Makuta already has its imitators whose lower price and similar packaging. When the celebrities sue, have they taken care of their own business permits correctly? When we have Gigieat, I can start something similar with the name Gigiout, already different isn’t it?

What’s the solution?
Somebody has to regulate this. The celebrities’s businesses should have SIUP (Business Permits), PIRT (Household Food Industry), even for the fastest process of the halal certificate may take 4-5 months. I understand that they might lose the moment if they wait for the permit to come up. It’s best to start the business and begin the license process at the same time. What often happened are, people ignore this matter. What if they have surprise inspection? This will create a trouble.
Of course, at the positive side, the business can accelerate the economy much faster. If people are paying attention, this business goes along with government’s mission to create breakthrough regional souvenirs in new travel destinations. Let say Lake Toba, which is identical to passion fruit, what sort of products can we make? Perhaps passion fruit pudding, roll cake, or crackers? Mr. Jokowi is encouraging these kind of things to activate the real economy.