Ask someone about their favorite durian and you will likely get answers like Musang King, Blackthorn, D24, D101, etc. "The fact of the matter is, we only mention durians, we don't think of the brand of durian itself," said Acid Yong.
“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 name? "
That was the launch pad for DooranDooran (Dooran). It's a new durian delivery service built in 21 days with the goal of being the durian brand in Malaysia and, according to Acid, maybe the world.
As the CEO of Korea Wallpaper (a company that sells wallpaper imported from Korea), Acid frequently visited Korean manufacturers who gave gifts when their guests were meeting. These gifts consisted of items the country was known for, from ginseng to skin care products.
She wondered what she could best represent for Malaysia in return. Tea and coffee were options but were not noticed. That was until she realized that Durian, the "King of Fruits", would do so.
But packaged durians are often delivered in clear plastic containers or placed on a styrofoam tray wrapped in cling film, which Acid says wasn't good enough for Dooran. Hence, they are tightly packed in a round paper box, usually used for salads, and tied together with a jute cord that carries a durian-shaped label and an information card about the pulp in your hand.
Each package comes with thick pulp wrapped in jute twine and Dooran's labels / Photo credit: DooranDooran
This simple solution had two advantages: a) it looked like a gift, and b) it was Instagram-enabled, which meant people would post about it online and tag Dooran. It's free marketing that is spreading fast, accelerated by the founder's decision to partner with influencers and key opinion leaders (KOL).
A team to make the dream work
Dooran was developed by the team at Korea Wallpaper. They were able to split their focus as the pandemic slowed operations and sales for their 70 employees.
It took the IT team three weeks to program Dooran's barebones website with no other functions other than a simple order page and users to create a profile.
Durians are opened and sorted in the warehouse / Photo credit: DooranDooran
A factory was rented as Dooran's sorting center, where a team of 60 searched each fruit, opened it, and extracted the pulp for packaging. By only filtering high quality, at least 20% of the pulp that does not meet the requirements is eliminated.
Each order contains pulp made from a 4kg whole durian packed in 2 rustic boxes weighing approximately 850-900g, according to Dooran's website. Musang King and D24 Durian are the only varieties currently available.
When I tried the D24s for myself, I found that each pulp was creamy and plump ("chonky bois" as I described them) and appeared to have a good meat-to-seed ratio. It definitely seems to be in line with Dooran's high quality standards.
Close up of the chunky D24 I got / Photo credit: Vulcan Post
One challenge Dooran encountered early on was the sheer volume of orders they received. Since they were only sourcing from a friend's farm at the time, they could not meet the demand as the durians still had to fall from their trees. Dooran's team called each customer to inquire about the delivery delay and to apologize.
To solve this, Dooran now sources its pulp from several 30-year-old orchards across Malaysia, including Titi, Raub, Pagoh and Asahan.
The prices only rise from here
On Dooran's website, you will find that the prices for the durians increase by RM 1 every day. At the time of writing, 2 boxes of his Musang King pulps were costing RM 200 while D24s were costing RM 97. Under the prices there is a bright red text: “Grab it fast! Prices continue to skyrocket, "prompting customers to buy it right now as it is the cheapest they will ever get.
Acid stated that this pricing structure was intentional as customers view Dooran's products not just as mere fruit to enjoy, but as a gift.
She added that no customers have disproved that Dooran's prices were too high, even when the Musang King packages started at RM153 (the market price based on comparisons on GrabFood).
Dooran appears to use a mix of dynamic and value-based pricing strategies. With dynamic pricing, the cost of a company's products change based on market demand, while value-based pricing is based on the customer's willingness to pay.
Taking into account the manpower required to operate Dooran as a delivery service and the packaging that contains the pulps, all of these factors are business costs that add up. While it encourages a certain amount of impulse buying from customers, as long as they are willing to pay for the perceived quality of Dooran, the brand's prices appear fair.
Durians are delivered from the farm to your doorstep / Image source: DooranDooran
Since it was founded a month ago, Dooran has served around 15,000 customers and sold over 100,000 kilos of durian, making the company profitable.
Durian season only lasts about 90 days, so we had to ask Acid what the brand would do in the off-season. She replied that the idea of opening a café had fallen by the wayside and admitted that new challenges were ahead of them.
Overall, it's unclear what will become of Dooran if it's not durian season, but when you see the team quickly seizing opportunities and making the most of them, there is the potential for them to switch easily. Perhaps one option would be to source other premium fruit to package and sell, as some durian farms do themselves.
- Find out more about DooranDooran here.
- You can find more information about durian here.
Photo credit: Acid Yong, Founder of DooranDooran