When Jay Ong went to South Korea and came across Jipangyi Seoul Cane Ice Cream, a popular street food cart there, he knew it would be a big hit in the Philippines. It was just a matter of time before his company Happy Recipe Food Enterprises brought in the concept, which dishes out soft-serve ice cream in J-shaped cones.
But, despite his faith in the brand, Ong realized that its standard price point—roughly P120 per cone in South Korea, Singapore, and Hong Kong—would make it a challenge to establish the brand here, especially amongst price-conscious Filipinos.
Making it more affordable locally
The solution? Ong decided to recalibrate the product, which, in turn, brought down its price tag. Now sold locally at a friendlier P35 per cone, Jipangyi Seoul Cane Ice Cream prides itself as the “healthier” alternative to the usual sugar-laden ice cream cones Filipinos had grown accustomed to.
Jipangyi’s main attraction is its signature J-shaped cone dubbed “the walking stick”. The cone is made from corn grits, without any oil or sugar added.
“It’s a dessert and a snack in one,” says Ong, adding that eating one of Jipangyi’s signature cones is like having ice cream and corn chips at the same time. He believes that Jipangyi’s main product offers consumers more bang for their buck. “Sulit ’yung P35 mo,” he says.
Growing food cart chain
Jipangyi opened its first Philippine store in September 2014 in SM San Lazaro and now has 58 stores, six of which are company-owned.
“There was a time when we would open five to eight stores a month,” Ong recalls. “Sobrang hectic.”
Now, the franchise has an outlet in nearly all major malls in Metro Manila, and is slowly making its way to the provinces, with Ong targeting to open 100 stores across the country.
Success hasn’t made Ong stop coming up with new ideas, though. “Before, we only had the classic cone,” he says, noting that it was the only variant sold in South Korea. The Philippine franchise, though, offers assorted toppings and flavors, as well as J-Pop, which combines ice cream and caramel popcorn.
Ong’s advice to potential franchisees? Study the market. “Ice cream is an impulse purchase. Even if you have a good concept, without a good location, it will not work.”
Total investment: P520,000 for carts and kiosks
Contract term: 3 years
Inclusions: Rights to use trademark, name, and logo; site evaluation assistance; operations manual and systems; cart or kiosk; ice cream machine, plus accessories; training; initial inventory; opening assistance; marketing support; ongoing support, among others
Contact details: (02) 351-3207; 0917-5009899
This story was originally published in the August 2015 issue of Entrepreneur magazine.
Photos from Jipangyi Seoul Cane Ice Cream’s FB account; third photo by Heidi Aquende