Consider the croissant.
Apparently in the US alone, 142 million people “enjoyed” a croissant in 2020.
I say “enjoyed” in quote marks because I wasn’t one of them, and not just because I wasn’t actually in the US in 2020.
It’s because I have a problem with croissants.
Firstly (ok so I have more than one problem with croissants) and most importantly, they’re overrated. Hugely.
I mean, they can’t decide if they’re bread or cake. You can eat them for breakfast? Can’t be a cake.
But then cafes keep them alongside the cakes and not the sandwiches… so they can’t be bread. But a plain croissant without anything on it is basically like eating bread.
And if you fancy it up with butter or jam or whatnot… well, you wouldn’t do that to a cake, would you?
So it’s basically toast. Pretentious, overpriced toast.
Look, I realise this may be an unpopular opinion, and that I may never be allowed into France again (actually croissants originated in Austria, but let’s not get sidetracked)…
…but it’s my opinion, and while that may not make it a fact, it does make it true. Or something.
I’ll explain why this is important to your marketing message in just a moment (honestly), but first I need to get something else off my chest…
No I mean it, I literally need to get something off my chest: CROISSANT CRUMBS.
Or more accurately: croissant flakes. Flippin’ piles of them.
One bite of a croissant (remember: just pretentious toast) can seemingly produce thousands of tiny flakes of pastry.
They flutter down like edible dandruff (er, sorry), most of them landing nowhere near your plate, just everywhere else within a 3 foot radius of your mouth.
If you’re someone – like me, as you may have guessed by now – who dislikes messy food, eating a croissant is not a fun, slightly cheeky exercise like people who eat croissants in adverts portray.
(You know the ones:
There’s an attractive young couple, maybe two or three friends, and they’re all sat in a sunlit café where everyone’s smiling at each other with their teeth and laughing at some inaudible joke to show us how fun they are, and one bites into a croissant and has a little giggle at how flaky the pastry is because a bit of it tumbles cheekily down into their palm, and their friends all have a chuckle too…
NO, advert people, that is not how life works and you know it.)
One croissant eaten at home basically requires the vacuum to be used afterwards.
The stuff goes everywhere.
If you’re in a cafe, you’ll be scooping those flakes up off the table constantly, because even the slightest breeze from a passer-by or an open window will disseminate the flakes into an ever-increasing radius.
You’ll be doing a kind of two-handed dustpan-and-brush manoeuvre for the remainder of your croissant-eating time, and sure you’ll pretend you’re enjoying yourself (like the advert people) but actually you’ll just be wishing it was over already and you didn’t have pastry flakes in the folds of your trousers.
You should have ordered a cake that binds together better.
And that’s another thing with croissants (I’ll make this the last one, I promise) – they’re mostly air.
Their lightness and fluffiness which croissant-cravers worldwide claim to adore, is because they’re actually more of a framework than a finished thing.
They’re so full of air between their layers they’re basically scaffolding.
You know what I like between the layers of a cake?
Not air. MORE CAKE.
Why should I pay for air? It doesn’t taste like anything, which is probably why croissants don’t taste like much either.
Give me a slice of chocolate cake, or carrot cake or a doughnut (filled, not ring) and take this flaky abomination away.
Ah, that’s better.
And that (finally) brings me to the lesson behind all this pastry-bashing…
It’s that, despite all the obvious flaws I’ve just pointed out, SOME people still love croissants.
I live with one of them, and she still chooses croissant over cake on a regular basis, the lovely nutter.
Because croissants, bless them, are not for everyone.
They don’t need me and my croissant-dissing brethren.
They just need croissant-lovers. Free spirits who don’t mind flaky food. Mavericks who enjoy the taste of buttery air for breakfast.
Croissants have been around for hundreds of years and they’ll be around long after I’ve irritably scooped up my final handful of crumbs, because they’ve figured out how to appeal to THEIR people and not ALL people.
The crafty little semi-circular so-and-so’s.
Therefore, though it pains me to say it, my advice is:
Be more croissant.
You don’t have to please everyone with your products and services, and you should never try to.
Just speak to the people who don’t merely tolerate your flakiness, they love it…
Sell to the people who don’t miss the layers you don’t have, because they adore your airiness…
And then, even when you’re surrounded by more showy, chocolatey, cream-filled, sugary cakes (mmm, cake), your people will choose you, again and again.
So yeah, you’ve got to hand it to croissants, they’re brilliant.