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Ice Cream House

This ice cream chain eases out its rivals, and transforms its stores into a community affair.

By: Entrepreneur Staff | Sep 27, 2010 12:00 pm

Ice Cream House

Filipinos are famous for having a sweet tooth, and this is attested by the brisk sales of ice cream from the neighborhood sorbetero and those sold in the supermarkets.

It is this love for ice cream that entrepreneur Stan “Jun” Castillo tapped into with his Ice Cream House chain. The Ice Cream House uses a quaint naming practice—every store carries the specific name of its location.

Thus, there is a “Ice Cream House sa Boni” (Mandaluyong City), “Ice Cream House sa Retiro” (Quezon City) and “Ice Cream House sa Scout Tuazon” (also in Quezon City) and 60 other Ice Cream Houses in Luzon.

Castillo is a veteran of the ice cream business, having being in the industry for more than 20 years. In 1989, he started by selling ice buko (coconut popsicles),targeting the CDE market.
At the time, he says the market was very informal with most of the competition being  backyard operators; in addition, very little effort was expended for branding. So he focused on branding, raising the standards for locally made ice cream by improving its quality. 
His ice buko brand, Oro Blanco, created a new level of quality in this once overlooked product category. His branding strategy was a success and soon he was able to wipe out most of his backyard-based rivals.

Buoyed by Oro Blanco’s success, he then launched other brands—Gold Delight,  Primrose, So Cool and John and Candy, among others—and moved on to the ice cream category.

Despite his brands’ popularity in the low-end market, they remained relatively unknown in the high-end market. Castillo explains: “When you operate in that world (CDE market) you’re famous, but at the same time anonymous. You’re famous in your world but you’re anonymous to the rest of the world.”

In 1991, he decided to put up his first ice cream store in Sariaya, Quezon province and called it the Ice Buko Center. By 1993, there were 10 Ice Buko Center stores that also served to complement his network of vendors, then numbering about 1,150, in Luzon.

This network of vendors would stock up half of their carts with his products alongside those made by the big ice cream players. That same year, however, he dropped the name Ice Buko Center, but continued to operate the stores.

Page 2:  Improving product lines

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