Ask anyone about their favorite durian and you’ll probably get answers like Musang King, Blackthorn, D24, D101, and more. “The fact is that we only mention durian varieties but we don’t think about the durian brand,” Acid Yong noted.
“It’s like eating a kiwi and thinking about Zespri or eating an orange and thinking about Sunkist. I just thought: Could Durian also have a well-known brand? ”
This was the launch pad for Select (Dooran). It is a new durian delivery service built in 21 days with the mission of being the brand would last in Malaysia and, according to Acid, perhaps the world.
Find an identity
As CEO of Korean wallpapers (a company that sold wallpapers imported from Korea), Acid often visited Korean manufacturers who presented gifts when they met with their guests. These gifts consisted of items for which the country was well known, from ginseng to skin care products.
He reflected on what he could give in return for better representing Malaysia. While tea and coffee were options, they didn’t stand out. It wasn’t until he realized that durians, the “king of fruits,” would.
But packaged durians usually come in clear plastic containers or placed in a polystyrene foam tray wrapped in cling film, which Acid decided was not good enough for Dooran. Therefore, theirs are perfectly packaged in a round paper box that is commonly used for salads and tied with jute ropes that carry a durian-shaped label and an information card about the pulps in hand.
This simple solution had 2 advantages: a) it looked like a gift, and b) it was Instagrammable, which meant people would post it online, tagging Dooran. It’s free marketing that spreads rapidly, accelerated by the choice of founder when working with influencers and key opinion leaders (KOLs).
A team to make the dream work
Dooran was developed by the Korea Wallpaper team. They were able to split their approach as the pandemic slowed the operations and sales of its 70 employees.
It took the IT team three weeks to code the Dooran barebones website with no other features but a simple command page and users being able to create a profile.
A factory was rented as a Dooran sorting center where a team of 60 people went through each fruit, opened it and extracted the pulps to pack them. Ensuring that only high quality ones are filtered, at least 20% of the pasta that is not up to par is removed.
According to the Dooran website, each order contains pasta of a whole durian of 4 kg packed in 2 rustic boxes with an approximate weight of 850-900 g. The Musang King and D24 durians are the only variants available at this time.
Tasting my D24s myself, I found that each pulp was creamy and plump (as I described them as “chonky bois”) and seemed to have a good meat / seed ratio. It certainly seems in line with Dooran’s claims of high quality.
One challenge Dooran encountered in the early days was the sheer number of orders they received. Since at that time they only came from a friend’s farm, they could not keep up with the demand, as the durians had not yet fallen from their trees. The Dooran team would call each customer to inform and apologize for the delay in delivery.
To address this, Dooran now sources its pulp from several 30-year-old orchards across Malaysia, including Titi, Raub, Pagoh and Asahan.
Prices just go up from here
On the Dooran website, you will notice that durian prices are rising daily by RM1. At the time of writing, two boxes of his Musang King pulps cost 200 RM, while the D24s cost 97 RM. Below its prices, the bright red text says “Grab fast! Prices keep rising”, which motivated customers to buy it immediately, as it is the cheapest you will ever get.
Acid explained that this pricing structure was intentional, as customers not only see Dooran products as mere fruits, but as gifts.
He added that no customer has denied that Dooran prices were too high, even when the Musang King packages started at 153 RM (which is the market price, based on GrabFood comparisons).
Dooran seems to use a combination 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.
Given the labor required to operate Dooran as a delivery service and the packaging used to contain the pasta, all of the factors mentioned are the commercial costs that add up. While it encourages a certain level of impulsive buying by the customer, as long as they are willing to pay for the quality perceived by Dooran, the brand’s prices seem fair.
Since its launch a month ago, Dooran has served approximately 15,000 customers and sold more than 100,000 kilos of durians, which has boosted the business’s profitability.
The Durian season only lasts about 90 days, so we had to ask Acid what the brand would do when it’s out of season. She responded that the idea of opening a cafe was on her back and acknowledged that there were new challenges ahead.
It’s generally unclear what will happen to Dooran when it’s not the durian season, but seeing as the team has quickly seized the opportunities and made the most of them, they may pivot easily. One way might be to get other premium fruit to pack and sell, just as some durian farms do.
- You can find more information about DooranDooran here.
- You can read more content related to durian here.
Featured Image Credit: Acid Yong, founder of DooranDooran