Written by: Mackenzie Cooke, Anne Kimberley, Tyler Owens, Karin Schmidt and Nony Onyeador
A poem by esteemed poet, Annie Kimberley:
In the dark of night, we wake and depart,
For beating a long commute, we need this jump start;
The worst traffic in the world by far,
Hard to fathom the hours spent in a car.
At last we reach the end of the road,
Sleepy out of the van we all unload;
A punch of pizzazz wakes us with a start,
The crowd is dancing with all of their heart.
The Zumba class is full of women,
In neon outfits- what a vision!
Their dance moves put us to shame,
We couldn’t keep up with their game.
“Hi guys, tomorrow, we’ll be leaving from your hotel at 4:30 AM in order to get on the road to Bandung. Will you be awake?”
There’s seems to be little choice in the matter. Our team is scheduled to attend one of many community events that Diamond Fair puts on in the neighborhoods around their ten existing Diamond Fair stores. The stores are a part of a recent retail initiative launched by the manufacturer, Diamond Cold Storage’s distribution company, Sukanda Djaya. The stores, together called “Diamond Fair” work to complete a trilogy of vertical integration that few companies have the luxury of pulling off profitably. In order to make the morning event on time, we have to beat the infamous Jakarta traffic.
17:00, Thursday, May 18th
“Actually, we have to meet the rest of the team for breakfast at 4:30, so please be ready at 4:00 AM and we will drive over”.
No problem at all. Up to this point, we have only been on-site for four days and are acclimating slowly to the 14-hour time difference. Our gracious client has put us up at the Harris Hotel in Bekasi, a city about an hour outside of the industrial park that houses PT. Diamond Cold Storage. Bekasi is about an hour from the capital city, Jakarta.
The Harris Hotel is attached to a mall, so we learn to entertain ourselves in the evenings at one of the nightly concerts or with strolls around the four-story building. A group of us take to trying new restaurants while the others spend an hour in the gym. By the end of our trip, we see the mall/hotel as home and commemorate our stay with a team photo shoot filled with silly, Awkward Family Photos at a professional portrait store in the basement.
4:15, Friday, May 17th
One of our client colleagues, Nurdin, picks us up from the hotel. We usually spend our car rides playing dice or Batachelli but none of us are in the mood at this hour.
4:35, Friday, May 17th
The client has picked up quickly on Mackenzie’s love of coffee and they decide to stop for breakfast at a 24-hour Starbucks to kick off our journey. The 12 of us pile into the quiet Starbucks for coffees, pastries, and yogurt. Looking outside, hundreds of cars, vans, and trucks are already backed up for miles on the highway bordering the Starbucks.
We are fascinated, but only slightly. Within the week that we’ve been there, we learn that at least half of the 12-person Diamond Fair team is traveling more than 2 hours each way to get to work. The new infrastructure projects commissioned by Indonesian President Jokowi exacerbate the traffic, but will hopefully provide respite via two elevated train lines within the next few years.
5:00, Friday, May 17th
By 5:00 AM, we’re on the road again, heading to the “Paris of Indonesia” otherwise known as Bandung. The nickname is a reference to the fact that most “Made in Indonesia” tag items are manufactured there. As a result, the city is filled with outlets and factory stores for excess clothing from brands we know well.
7:00, Friday, May 17th
We park and walk into a concrete clearing behind office buildings to find the first event already underway. Diamond Fair is one of the sponsors for one of the city appreciation events. The event is a sports day and Diamond Fair’s mobile truck selling ice cream, juice, milk, and several other products already sits gleaming on the sideline. A large crowd forms around the truck and they sell more than 75 transactions within the hour.
A small group of men asks for pictures with us, and it sets off a flurry of photo shoots that culminate in a woman handing Mackenzie her new-born baby for a sweet shot.
9:00, Friday, May 17th
We make it to the town of Cimahi where the most profitable Diamond Fair store sits. We have planned a focus group discussion and begin preparing the office. From 10 AM to 12 PM, we see over 30 customers and non-customers asking a slew of questions about their shopping habits, experience with Diamond Fair, willingness to order online and more. The focus groups are especially eye-opening because we have so many preconceived notions about buying habits from the United States that are completely different in Indonesia. The average Indonesian grocery shopper is likely a matriarch and is completely driven by price promotions. They will travel well out of their way just to save a few cents and are especially agnostic to ordering online despite the time and cost of travel. We also meet several small business owners who make a good starting base for a potential subscription delivery service idea that we are considering. Both reference community and referrals as a major way that they learn about offers and new stores. Their answers validate many of Diamond Fair’s PR and promotion strategies.
13:00, Friday, May 17th
After FGDs, we grab lunch and try eating the traditional meals with our hands for the first time as Indonesians would. The team orders us a buffet of items, chicken, several styles of fish, sautéed vegetables, and a couple tofu and tempeh options for Annie, the vegetarian of our group. The food is delicious and we wrap it up with coconut waters straight from the fruit.
15:00, Friday, May 17th
After lunch, we head out to a “CompShop”, shorthand for a competitor shopping exercise, to observe what other grocery chains are doing. This includes how they display and promote items, what their loyalty programs entail and where Diamond products are positioned. It takes two hours to get to our first grocery story and we are astonished to find out later that it is only a couple of kilometers away.
19:00, Friday, May 17th
Two CompShops and several hours later we head to dinner at a fancy restaurant overlooking the water. Here we would have one of the very rare occasions on the trip, in the majority-Muslim country, to drink alcohol.
Around 10:30 PM after lots of laughs and a full stomach, we are happy to head back to the hotel for the night. Tomorrow is another early wake-up call.
We begin driving back to the Diamond Fair Cimahi store, this time for a community Zumba event.
7:00, Saturday, May 18th
As described in our poem, the Zumba event is filled with high energy and great music. Over 20 men and women of all ages hustle alongside an instructor cloaked in matching black and blue sweat suit emblazed with the word, “Zumba”. In fact, everyone is dressed for the occasion with a couple of women looking almost like superheroes with their neon outfits and matching headscarves. An exuberant woman dressed in a baby blue and pink sweat suit pumping effortlessly to the music in the front encourages the crowd with loud, passionate calls to move and get into the music. It is unclear whether she knows the instructor or is simply a good Samaritan, but she makes all of us smile with excitement.
Karin, Mackenzie, and Annie join in for the workout and Tyler charms with a couple of moves of his own.
9:00, Saturday, May 18th
The final event of the weekend is a cooking demonstration led by PR Head, Indri. She shows the women how to make Eggs Bolognese with Diamond branded items and then lets them try it with some Diamond-owned Jungle Juice. The women enjoy the event and once again we are impressed with the reach and attendance of each event. After all, only one store has been open for more than seven months. The events show how dedicated Diamond Fair is to making their B2C strategy work and it helps drive us more to create the best recommendations for the Indonesian context. Plus, we have a lot of fun.
12:00, Saturday, May 18th
We pile into the car for the long journey back to Bekasi. It has been quite the weekend, but these two days make us feel more knowledgeable than ever about our client and their business. We’re happy to have been a part of it all.