Posted by: findaaronsmith | January 27, 2011

Why So Sweet?

Sprinkles Cupcakes La Jolla, CA

Cupcakes. Have you experienced what’s happening with cupcakes in the nation’s consciousness? Certainly the cupcake phenomenon will find its way into a future Malcolm Gladwell book or essay. After all, designer cupcake stores, cookbooksTV shows and competitions are springing up everywhere. But why cupcakes? Why now?

These questions and a few others sprang to mind when this morning I was leaving a shopping center and spotted a line forming down an unusual corridor of the shopping center. It caught my eye because there’s no reason there should be a line there at 10:45am on a Thursday… at none that I could immediately conjure.

So, with my social marketing hat on and curiosity piqued, I (re)parked and went to investigate. What I learned was that the oft-empty “nouveau” frozen yogurt store had been replaced by a “nouveau” cupcake store. I peered in, noting the sign on the window warning customers to keep the glass front door closed at all times to ensure cupcake freshness. Wouldn’t want any of that freshness escaping to the masses outside.

Not wanting to affect the delicate atmospheric pressure of the cupcakery, I moved down the line that had formed. I’d estimate it was a good 40-45 people strong, and most individuals, not groups. I reached the back and engaged a few recent additions to the line. I learned that there was no sale today. No special marketing. The store was relatively new, but by no means a grand opening. All this attention was just your typical day at Sprinkles in La Jolla, CA.

Astounding, really. At $3.50 a cupcake or $40 for a dozen, it leaves a lot of treat-style shops scratching their heads… especially the aforementioned frozen yogurt store that Sprinkles replaced.

So, that leaves us to ponder, why cupcakes? Is it the creativity that captures people’s imagination? Is it that $3.50 for a little piece of heaven seems digestible, even in a recession-era economy?

Whatever it is, it goes to show you that little ideas can quickly capture the hearts and minds of consumers. Roaming food trucks are another good example. Are cupcakes here to stay, or will we have a new crush in a couple of years?

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