Is Our Addiction to J.CO Donuts Finally Coming to an End?July 7, 2014
- Mia MarciWords
It happens almost as regularly as the Olympics or the World Cup. Every few years or so, a new donut shop comes into town, and people flock to it for their sugar and coffee fix. Most recently, that donut shop was J.CO, a coffee chain that originated in Indonesia, and became the “fastest growing donut chain in Southeast Asia” with branches in Singapore and Malaysia. When J.CO first set up shop in the Philippines in 2012 with a branch at the SM Megamall Strip, the wait time for donuts were about 2 or 3 hours long. The lines now are shorter, and one can even grab a seat without having to fight for it with other donut addicts. Has the J.CO fever passed? What does it mean for the brand?
Has the J.CO fever passed? What does it mean for the brand?
J.co may not have been Krispy Kreme, who has kept their place in the donut wars secure as the original glazed donut from the U.S., but they stood out. Their donuts are fluffier than the competition’s, and came in unusual flavors such green tea, avocado, and lychee packaged with clever names such as “Avocado Dicaprio” and “Hi Lychee”. Over time they began to offer their J.COffee line of cappuccinos, frappes, and lattes, as well as frozen yoghurts and sandwiches. With what they have to offer, no wonder they had a hold on the local audience for so long.
Donuts always found a way to trend here.
As mentioned, donuts always found a way to trend here. With foreign donut brands, they always come out with a bang, but while the craze passes, business remains steady. A friendly chat with one of the servers at J.CO Greenbelt confirmed that while the branch isn’t as crowded as it used to be, the crowd of its heyday arrives during weekends. J.CO’s Glorietta branch, one of their newer branches, had a line of people looking to get donuts around five in the afternoon on a working weekday. What had surprisingly low activity compared to their Makati branches was their branch in Megamall, which barely had a handful of people lined up, and only several people seated in their shop when I visited them during a weekday lunch, and again after dinner on another day.
But what I have noticed is that more people have been taking out J.CO. It could be because it’s hard to miss their bright orange box, and not a day goes by without seeing at least one J.CO box being carried by a random passerby. I seem to see more orange boxes carried around than Krispy Kreme boxes, for that matter.
The lack of long lines is a marked decline, but sales at J.CO remain steady.
Yes, the lack of long lines is a marked decline, but based on what I’ve seen and input from a J.CO staff member, sales at J.CO remain steady. The new kid in town has settled in. Just like Krispy Kreme, the lines have become more manageable, but the place still gets filled up, and donuts are still being sold. GoNuts Donuts may have sunk to last place in the donut war when the brand they ‘hacked’ (Krispy Kreme) came to town, but they’re still there and fighting even with the loss of their large flagship store in The Fort Strip.
The worst that can happen to J.CO is what GoNuts Donuts is now, which retains a small loyal following, but has since become “the other donut” for those who want to indulge in something more than the usual Dunkin’ Donut and Mister Donut. Krispy Kreme has found new ways to keep the interest of their market with the introduction of pull-aparts, customized message donuts, and seasonal flavor donuts. What can J.CO do to keep themselves relevant to the Philippine market? I think before declaring J.CO passe, what one should watch for will be what their next move will be.