A year since opening its first Marou Station – the deliciously petite and trendy version of its flagship chocolate confectionery and cafe – Vietnam’s premier chocolate maker has rolled out the concept from the original Station in Saigon’s upscale Thao Dien area to three more major commercial centers across the city.
This expansion is a milestone for Marou, and a testament to the growing allure of its sweets to a wider and younger procession of consumers. The four stations – at Thao Dien Pearl in District 2, Crescent Mall in District 7, Gigamall in Thu Duc City and Takashimaya in District 1 – offer Marou’s luscious chocolate creations, from drinks to pastries to soft serve ice cream – but in a take-away format with limited, intimate seating for those who want to linger with their sweets.
The Saigon expansion from its Maison Marou chocolate factory and cafe in a heritage building in District 1 to malls and supermarkets marks a bold move for the company, founded 10 years ago by visionaries who brought the artisanal and sustainable “bean to bar” movement to Vietnam with Marou, Faiseurs de Chocolat.
For those who haven’t heard about Marou before, in a sea of coffee and milk tea chains, Marou Station offers them another compelling and fresh option, providing products made from pure chocolate that can’t be found anywhere else.
A very ‘open’ Marou
Marou Station is positioned as a broader and more flexible approach to customers in Vietnam – not only to chocolate lovers, but to enthusiasts of new and convenient culinary experiences. This characteristic has drawn a significant distinction between Marou Station and its predecessor Marou Maison.
Marou Station brings convenience to the consumers without sacrificing one iota of the quality of its creations. All its sweets and ingredients are prepared in the kitchen of Maison Marou and delivered to the stations every day.
Instead of offering consumers the "live" experience of chocolate making on-site at Marou Maison, Marou Station optimizes the "mobile" experience to serve takeout needs.
In addition to Marou's main chocolate bar products, Marou Station features menus with new easy-to-carry cakes and drinks, and they make smaller portions of their pastries for the convenience of taking out. As for the drinks, along with the familiar chocolate-inspired milkshakes and hot chocolate, Marou Station added signature items like Choco Crunch – a drink that combines chocolate ice cream and syrup with crispy toppings and chocolate sauce, for "a thirst-quenching summer dessert."
At Marou Station, they set up their tables and chairs to resemble a stopping place in shopping malls for customers to have a quick visit.
Some stations do have seating areas with a limited number of seats. The Stations also have an open design to encourage the flow of customers.
A movable Marou
Marou Station has created a more youthful and dynamic image to reach millennials or Gen Z. This intention has been fully expressed through the store’s identity design.
Only a few design details of Maison Marou are retained to create the brand association. In addition, Marou Station follows a more playful design style, using vibrant colors and uneven shapes – resembling broken pieces of chocolate – on the red decorative frame or the corners of the counter.
Customers at Marou Station can find all versions and creations of chocolate from drinks to ice cream, from bonbons to chocolate bars, from cakes to baking ingredients. There have been hardly any similar business models in Vietnam that focus only on chocolate, like Maison Marou and Marou Station.
According to a survey conducted by Marou, customers – especially younger ones and those who have visited Maison Marou – are intrigued by the concept and the convenience of buying chocolate products right at the shopping mall or supermarket.
A ‘one-of-a-kind’ Marou
Marou Station is forging a new path – atypical and unusual – in the game of the chocolate business.
Most well-known chocolate brands making fresh products will open cafes or stores downtown, usually occupying a wide space for customers to visit and enjoy. This strategy also applies to the model of Maison Marou. But as Marou points out, there are not many similar existing practices for a takeout model that offers freshly-made chocolate products like Marou Station.
“This out-of-common characteristic is also the unique feature of Marou Station for Marou lovers to conveniently shop,” a Marou representative said.
Here are some fascinating features of Marou Station:
- Only at Marou Station can you have soft-serve ice cream made entirely from premium ingredients and Marou’s single-origin chocolate.
- The pastries at Marou Station are the most popular picks at Maison Marou, but in smaller portions for the convenience of taking out.
- Free toppings for chocolate drinks, milkshakes and ice cream.
- All packaging at Marou Station, such as cake boxes and takeout cups, are made from recyclable materials, but still preserve the product inside very well.
- The overall design is simple and convenience-oriented but still outstanding with the red-orange logo, featuring several seats to create a ‘station’ image.
A ‘creditable-in-flavor’ Marou
Despite its smaller scale and a selected number of products, Marou Station is committed to the same quality as Maison Marou. Marou has become sophisticated in meeting customers' needs by always observing customer preferences, improving recipes and launching new products. This requires a whole effort of the Marou team, especially the entire team working at Maison Marou's kitchen led by Chef Stéphanie Aubriot, who has more than 20 years of experience in pastry and chocolate. She held the position of pastry chef for La Maison 1888 Restaurant at Intercontinental Danang Hotel and worked with 3-Michelin-starred Chef Michel Roux.
By launching Marou Station, Marou wishes to bring more chocolate creations to Vietnamese customers, and convince more Vietnamese people to enjoy products made from locally-grown cocoa beans, which are certified by reputable manufacturers and international experts.
Marou expects to expand the Marou Station concept beyond Ho Chi Minh City to other provinces and cities across the country, as well as at airports. If possible, Marou plans to reach out to the broader Asian market soon.
Translated by Bich Tram