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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

of veracity.

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.


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.

1 of 4 8/22/2013 5:39 PM

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

national heritage."

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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