Essay based on article about French Baguettes and to take stance as to whether the customer is always right
Words : 1250
"The customer is always right"
"The customer doesn't (always) know what's best...It's the
baker's (marketer's) job to educate him."
The above statements succinctly point out a subtle battle which rages
within the marketing discipline. While the "politically correct" stance is
usuall the first of the statements, it isn't too hard to find that many privately
harbor the idea that the latter statement also has a considerable element
One idea that we have explored this semester is the importance of
perception when it comes to the practice of marketing. We understand
that perception is essentially individual reality, and that the perception, and
view of reality, may not be strongly connected to the actual facts or truth.
Simply, we act on our perceptions, not necessarily the truth.
So, as marketers, an important question may be: Are perceptions
Much of what we have studied this semester should lead us to a
conclusion about the above question. If we can't alter perceptions, then
why bother with marketing?
READ the attached article about French Baguettes. Then, take your
stance as to whether the customer is always right, and write your essay....
Page Maximum: Five Pages
***Always attempt to relate, to the extent you can, that which you have
learned from assigned readings to date.
By DAVID MARCELIS
PARIS—Dominique Anract, a baker in Paris's 16th arrondissement, sells about
1,500 baguettes every day, and most of them he wouldn't want to eat himself.
The vast majority of his customers, he says, choose the the loaves whitest, least-
baked baguette on display. So he and his team take 90% of out of the oven before
they are done.
How to Bake A Proper Baguette
"If those were for me, we'd keep them all in two to three minutes longer," he
says. "But that's not my call—it's the customer's."
One of the great symbols of French gastronomy is under siege. Renowned for
its distinctive shape and crusty exterior, the baguette risks becoming known for
something else, too: being undercooked and doughy.
Rémi Héluin, the founder of Painrisien, a blog about Parisian bakeries,
estimates that 80% of the 230 shops he has reviewed underbake most
David Marcelis/The Wall Street Journal
of their baguettes. "They've got to keep the customer satisfied," he says.
Patrons have plenty of reasons for their preference—and they're not necessarily
half-baked. For Camille Oger, a 30-year-old freelance reporter, eating a well-
baked baguette can be a painful experience. "It's hard to munch," she says, "and
it hurts your gums and palate." Less-baked loaves "won't break your teeth," she
Pura Garcia, a retiree and a regular at Mr. Anract's bakery, says a well-done
baguette gets stale way too quickly. "If you don't eat it within the hour, it'll feel
like it's a day old," she says. Many other customers say they ask for a "white
baguette" because it will taste better reheated at home.
The shift in public taste has sparked some outrage in a country so synonymous
with the thin, elongated stick.
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France's Famously Crusty Baguette Goes Soft - WSJ.com http://online.wsj.com/article/
"Crustiness is the trademark of French bread," says Jean-Philippe de Tonnac, a
French writer and bread enthusiast. "It won't be as good if it's not well baked."
Steven Kaplan, a Cornell University professor of history and author of several
books on French bread, says the baguette's distinctive texture and flavor come
from a chemical reaction—called the Maillard effect—that occurs toward the end
of the baking process. Without it, a baguette is no more than a tasteless mush,
which sometimes —counterintuitively—can be harder to chew.
"The baguette is gradually morphing into something else," says Mr. Kaplan. "I'm
seeing in front of my eyes, the eclipse of one of the great objects of French
Bakers say proper baking time allows for an exchange of flavor between the
crumb (the inside of the bread) and the crust, and creates the perfect balance that
makes the baguette so special: a crisp, caramelized crust enveloping a soft, airy
David Marcelis/The Wall Street Journal
isn't even a century old.
Though consumption of bread in France has been declining since the 1950s,
bread is still a staple. Many people eat bread with most meals, viewing it almost
as an extension of the knife and fork in pushing food around the plate. French
research center Crédoc found that 98% of the French eat bread every day.
The French are particular fans of the baguette, which accounts for three-quarters
of all bread consumption, according to France's National Bread Observatory,
which studies and promotes bread.
Despite its honored status, the ubiquitous loaf
The baguette as we know it dates to the 1920s and was a byproduct of a protective
labor law that prevented French bakers from working between 10 p.m. and 4
a.m. That made it impossible to prepare traditional round loaves by breakfast
time. Bakers had to turn to a new kind of bread, whose thin shape made it faster
to prepare and bake. The baguette —French for "little stick"—quickly became a
breakfast essential throughout France.
In recent years, the corner shop baker has had to adapt, amid growing
competition from industrial food companies and supermarkets, which can sell a
baguette for about a third of the price. They have also tweaked their product line
to attract new customers, rolling out the more artisanal "baguette de tradition," at
a price of $1.30 to $1.90.
In a bid to protect the industry, French law dictates what ingredients can be used
to make these baguettes (essentially, wheat flour, water, salt and yeast) and limits
the use of the name boulangerie—or bakery—to shops where bread is made and
baked on the premises.
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