Ask anyone about their favourite durian and you’ll likely get answers like Musang King, Blackthorn, D24, D101, and so on. “The fact is, we are only mentioning durian varieties but not thinking about the durian’s brand itself,” Acid Yong realised.
“It’s like eating a kiwi and thinking of Zespri or eating an orange and thinking of Sunkist. I just thought, could durian have a household name brand too?”
That was the launching pad for DooranDooran (Dooran). It’s a new durian delivery service built in 21 days with a mission to be the durian brand in Malaysia, and according to Acid, perhaps the world.
Finding an identity
As the CEO of Korea Wallpaper (a company selling imported wallpapers from Korea), Acid frequently visited Korean manufacturers who’d present gifts when meeting their guests. These gifts consisted of items the country was well known for, from ginseng to skincare products.
She pondered over what she could give in return that best represented Malaysia. While tea and coffee were options, they didn’t stand out. That was until she realised durians, the “king of fruits”, would.
But packaged durians often come in transparent plastic containers, or laid on a styrofoam tray wrapped in cling film, which Acid decided wasn’t good enough for Dooran. Hence, theirs are packed snugly in a round paper box commonly used for salad, and tied up with jute string carrying a durian shaped label and information card about the pulps in your hand.
This simple solution had 2 benefits: a) it looked like a gift, and b) it was Instagrammable, which meant people would post about it online, tagging Dooran. It’s free marketing that spreads fast, accelerated by the founder’s choice in working with influencers and key opinion leaders (KOL).
A team to make the dream work
Dooran was developed by Korea Wallpaper’s team. They were able to split their focus as the pandemic slowed down the operations and sales for its 70 employees.
It took the IT team 3 weeks to code Dooran’s barebones website with no other functions but a simple ordering page and for users to create a profile.
A factory was rented as Dooran’s sorting centre where a team of 60 would go through each fruit, open it up, and extract its pulps to be packed. Ensuring only high-quality ones are filtered through, at least 20% of pulp that isn’t up to par are eliminated.
Each order contains pulp from a 4kg whole durian packed in 2 rustic boxes, weighing a rough 850-900g, according to Dooran’s website. Musang King and D24 durians are the only variants available at the moment.
Giving its D24s a try myself, I found that each pulp was creamy and plump (“chonky bois” was how I described them), and seemed to have a good meat to seed ratio. It certainly seems in line with the high quality Dooran claims to hold.
One challenge Dooran ran into early on was the sheer amount of orders they received. As they were only sourcing from a friend’s farm at the time, they were unable to keep up with demand as the durians had yet to drop from their trees. Dooran’s team would call up each customer to inform and apologise about the delivery delay.
To solve that, Dooran now sources their pulps from several 30-year old orchards around Malaysia, including Titi, Raub, Pagoh, and Asahan.
Prices only go up from here
On Dooran’s website, you’ll notice that prices for the durians increase every day by RM1. At the time of writing, 2 boxes of its Musang King pulps cost RM200, while D24s cost RM97. Under its prices, bright red text reads “Grab fast! Prices keep shooting up,” prompting customers to buy it immediately as it’s the cheapest it’ll ever get.
Acid explained that this pricing structure was intentional, as customers aren’t just viewing Dooran’s products as mere fruits to indulge in, but as gifts.
She added that no customers have refuted that Dooran’s prices were too high, even when its Musang King bundles started at RM153 (which is market price, based on comparisons on GrabFood).
Dooran seems to be using a mix of dynamic and value-based pricing strategies. Dynamic pricing is where the cost of a company’s products changes according to market demand, while value-based pricing is based on what the customer is willing to pay.
Taking into consideration the manpower required to operate Dooran as a delivery service and the packaging used to contain the pulps, all factors mentioned are business costs that add up. While it does encourage a certain level of impulse buy on the customer’s end, so long as they’re willing to pay for the perceived quality provided by Dooran, the brand’s prices seem fair.
Since launching a month ago, Dooran has served roughly 15K customers and sold over 100K kilos of durians, pushing the business to profitability.
Durian season only lasts for about 90 days, so we had to ask Acid what the brand would be doing when it’s off-season. She replied that the idea of opening a cafe was on the back burner, and acknowledged that new challenges were ahead of them.
Overall, it’s unclear what will become of Dooran when it’s not durian season, but seeing how the team has been quick to seize opportunities and make the most out of them, there’s potential for them to easily pivot. One way would perhaps be to source other more premium fruits to package and sell, the way some durian farms themselves do.
Featured Image Credit: Acid Yong, founder of DooranDooran