Trade like the Pros? Are you sure you want to do that? A lesson from Din Tai Fung vs Ju Hao


So yesterday me and my family tried out a new eatery called Ju Hao, which is a subbrand from MOF which has mostly japanese themed restaurants. From the first look you know, it’s trying to copy world famous, bar-none, Din Tai Fung. The menus have almost the exact dishes, the dishes look exactly the same, the variety is only an inch different.

But the price is much more competitive. 6 dumplings for $6. Nuff said. The only bummer was that they don’t give free water.

Now I was thinking, what on earth was MOF thinking. They are known more for their japanese fare,  except for LENAS, and are, I think fairly successful. Why on earth, do you want to challenge the pros? It sounds like business suicide.

But week after week, I find that there are Qs to eat at Ju Hao. People like that place! Could it be that they just want to “compare” and see? Or do they really like to eat there? Don’t they feel eating at a copy cat (some may even feel it’s bad business etiquette to be so blatant about it) is surely going to disappoint?

I must admit the food is not close to compete with Din Tai Fung, the big boys, but hey, they have this underdog vibe, that seem to say “hey, we know what we’re doing, we’re not trying to be like them. We are trying to be like ourselves.”

And I think that’s a great business approach. Leverage on the edge, which in this case is to use wise business tactics to copy without overspending, but giving sufficient satisfaction at a price that is value for money.

A poor man’s Din Tai Fung, perhaps, designed to cater to the everyday person, instead of the big boy’s clearly “atas” look and feel. Ju Hao has a homely vibe.

So it’s same same but different. But when I come to think about it, it’s exactly like Smart Casual Trading.

It’s daring, no doubt, to bet on this venture, but it’s smartly engineered, from the food, layout, staffing, and interior design, to be more welcoming than premium Din Tai Fung. I’m sure Din Tai Fung still remains much more popular and profitable, but Ju Hao has an edge in being more Casual, which has always been the underlying theme for MOF food branches. Casual, value for money, and reasonable food.

It may not be as successfull as Din Tai Fung but clearly it’s not trying to beat it nor copy it: It’s actually being smart about it, to sort of, leverage on Din Tai Fung’s popularity, to cleverly design it’s own version, that is same same, but different.

I respect MOF for doing it. Din Tai Fung won’t be happy, for sure, specially if more stores of Ju Hao pop up in the heartlands to cater to the average people as the brand is not positioned to be premier.

So the same with trading. Many people believe if you want to succeed like the big boys, you have to train yourself to be like them. What do you think are your chances, as an average person whose training has nothing to do with economics, trading, markets, of beating them at their own game? No. Play to your advantage. Play your own game.

Every game has its ways of winning. Some strategy, some way of optimizing your advantages. Focus on your own game. That will be your edge. If you feel that being the first to know about news is critical, think about how the pros are also thinking the same thing, and the edge they have against you. If you think that being the first to know the results is critical, think about the trained analysts grouped up looking at the same screen, with their plans all  penned out and calculated in their head. Do you have such an edge against them?

Being an underdog trader is absolutely the smart thing to do. You just need to find your edge against the pros, just like how Ju Hao seems to have nailed it.

Contact me if you wish to learn more about how I trade Smart, Casual, and like an underdog.




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