On one of my regular trips to eat at Siam Paragon last weekend, I was surprised to see in the basement of Siam Paragon a large sign saying “Krispy Kreme”. Unbeknownst to me, the first Krispy Kreme store in Thailand was about to open its doors and, as of this writing, it’s already happened. Yesterday, the first Krispy Kreme store in Thailand officially opened in Bangkok, with lines around the block.
Some brand-conscious Bangkokians even camped out overnight, just to be first in line to try the new donut fad. Why? Krispy Kreme was giving away free donuts every week for a year to its first 100 customers – reason enough, I would say.
The Location of Krispy Kreme, Bangkok – If you’re familiar with Siam Paragon mall, which most of Bangkok is, you’ve already seen the new Krispy Kreme. If however you’ve better things to do than scout out new donut shop locations, you might need some help.
The easiest way to find Krispy Kreme is to take the sky train to Siam station and, from there, go into the Siam Paragon mall. Take the elevator or escalators down to the basement and head towards the end of the mall where Starbucks and Haagen Dazs is. Krispy Kreme’s is within sight of both of them.
Who Owns Krispy Kreme? In one of the classes I teach in Bangkok, my corporate English students were regailing me with stories about the new Krispy Kreme this week, how much the franchise was and who owns it. According to them, you’d have to be absolutely loaded to be able to afford the first Krispy Kreme franchise, as the franchise fee is 30 million baht (currently around $968,000). Now, I’m not sure if this franchise fee is correct but, as most of my Thai students are usually on the ball when it comes to business, I wouldn’t be surprised.
By doing further research, I soon discovered the Thailand Krispy Kreme franchise is owned by a woman named Ausanee Mahagitsiri, the eldest daughter of industrialist Prayudh Mahagitsiri. He owns a massive number of businesses in Thailand. So, yes, she’s loaded. She was also educated in the US, so is familiar with American products and American marketing.
Will Thais Buy Krispy Kreme Donuts? – Honestly, it’s anyone’s guess. For normal working class Thais, no, they won’t. The price of Krispy Kreme donuts is more than triple the price of an average Thai donut on the street and, honestly, to me too the Thai brands are better. They’re lighter, less high-fat and don’t sit like a lump in your stomach like Krispy Kreme donuts do.
Also, when I asked my middle-class students if they would buy Krispy Kreme donuts, not one of them said they would. Sure, that’s only a class of 15 middle-class Thais at an international company, but they all said “Too expensive, too American and too unhealthy”. So, while Khun Ausanee might find her Krispy Kreme donuts are popular at first, due to their uniqueness, it will be interesting to see if the popularity continues. Thais are brand-obsessed though so, if they deem them “cool” enough, she could be onto a winner.
Will I Eat Krispy Kreme Donuts in Bangkok? – Not a chance. When I can buy tasty Thai donuts at Thai-brand shops for a fraction of the price, there’s no reason for me to schlep down to Siam Paragon to eat an American brand one. Thailand has enough junk food from America (hence the rapidly fattening Thai population), it doesn’t need yet one more American fast food company pushing its unhealthy, junk food to the masses, so no, I won’t be helping propagate the brand.
I do wish Khun Ausanee luck with her new venture. This Krispy Kreme store in Bangkok is her first real business deal (she’s currently working for the government), and it’s always nice if your first one is successful.
Unfortunately, she won’t be able to count on this American buying her Krispy Kreme donuts as I’ll be supporting the Thai-brand shops instead.