Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Economics of Gelato

In the summer of 2007, the Quaker and I were both in Delhi, interning at the Supreme Court. This was when the first gelato chain stores opened in India, and of course we had to try it out. Of all the places we could choose for our first taste of gelato, we had to pick Khan Market, where one scoop was 120 rupees.

“How is gelato different from normal ice-cream?” we asked the man who was doling it out.

He said, “It has less air pressure.”

At the time, neither the Quaker nor I knew enough about gelato to gauge what he was trying to tell us, to wit, that gelato is denser because it is churned at a slower speed than ice cream, so not as much air is whipped into the mixture. In any case, we did not have 120 rupees, not even between the two of us. The Quaker said, “If I have to pay a hundred and twenty bucks for lower air pressure, then bring on the air pressure.” And we walked out.

That was my first encounter with gelato.

Since then, my relationship with gelato has improved, mostly due to the efforts of the Gelato Italiano chain of stores. They have this scheme which will be remembered with a quiet prayer of gratitude by legions of hard-up gelato-lovers. On the first of every month, they sell scoops of the Flavour of the Month for just nine rupees. The only catch is that the Flavour of the Month is usually the worst flavour on offer. Think Rose-Almond (October, icky-sweet), Honey-Coconut (June, downright weird) and Guava-Strawberry (July, the less said the better).

My friends are cheapskates too, so I know a number of people who queue up religiously every month, whatever the flavour. Sometimes we discuss the possible economic logic behind the scheme. I think the company hopes that lots of people will come to buy the cheap gelato and some of them will be tempted into trying other not-so-cheap flavours. Priyanka, who is a conspiracy-theorist, thinks that they lump all of the past month’s leftover gelato and brand it as a new flavour, and that the KGB is behind this. Pratiti, who is studying Statistics, thinks it is a kind of pilot survey. Sujaan, who had Psychology in high school, thinks this is a social experiment – they will keep producing increasingly worse flavours every month, the idea being to determine how low people will stoop to get a discount. His theory, attractive though it was, suffered a setback yesterday. Choco Crunch, the Flavour of December, is actually edible.


Arjun said...

This seems to be an offer made for people like me.... how come i was unaware of this scheme???? In fact if Sujaan's theory is indeed correct then i would think that the Gelato company will obtain a wrong result from their survey, if people like me start queing up....

ಕವನ said...

1. I actually liked guava strawberry.
2. Choco Crunch was Nestlé's Munch crushed and chilled, at best.

Priyanka said...

How come Myshkin, who also has a blog, doesn't get a special blue link?

Also, that hundred door question kept bothering me a lot this morning, even though I didn't listen to the entire thing [for obvious reasons]. =D

Rahul Saha said...

Guava-strawberry actually sounds cool. See here what you do - now that you have found a cheap flavour that you like but loads of it and hoard it. Next month when thay come out with flavour of the month go sit outside the most popular gelato palce and sell it at a premium.I missed this trick with pringles' spicy-tangy offer for 66% off thinking it was going to last forever (not knowing that pringles was extremely expensive I just assumed that the 1/3rd price was the normal one).

Pratiti said...

Edible?! It was GOOD! I should have brought some home. Sigh. And ask the Gelato Italiano people, mine might just be the correct explanation. Because it may be the most boring, but is also the most NORMAL. *rolls eyes*

@Priyanka: *Thousand* doors. Shouldn't make a diference, but ah well, more frustrating.

Anushka said...

I love Gelato Italiano! It has the genuine gelato texture, and naaaice generous scoops.

I tried the rose-almond thingy too. Eesh, I say, Eeeesh. But I knew December would have the best flavour of the month. Cool people are born in December.

Karthy said...

I didn't know about the scheme! also...maybe because it is so damn expensive...but I have never seen the point of getting gelato over icecream...though the scheme may change my opinion.

and I totally concur with anushka on the last bit :)

Sarbajeet said...

Me, you and Abira had once gone when they were serving something edible. Do you remember the flavour?

Anonymous said...

@ Sarbo: Is this a pop quiz for soreyan??? I hope he fails!!!!!

Shrabasti Banerjee said...

Wow. Gotta try out the scheme. Also, I can tell my dad would like Priyanka's theory the best :). And what is hundred/thousand doors?!

Sroyon said...

@Priyanka: People only get links if they update their blog regularly and/or have a large number of posts.

@Saha: The only problem being that gelato is harder to store than chips.

@Sarbajeet: Something chocolate-related, but I can't recall the exact flavour.

@Anonymous: There, I failed. Hope you're happy now.

@Takai: It's an interesting number theory problem.