Main image courtesy of Ramen Heroes
This caped noodle crusader is out to save your day from not having access to Japanese ramen, but this would be hero has a hefty $70 bill to serve you for his services.
I immediately wrote them off after being served their ads numerous times because they had radish added to their ramen, wtf, why? I’m not ordering tacos, but that was not unfortunately the worst part. The worst part is that I finally looked into how much they charge, and after seeing that they charge nearly $17.99 per serving or a mandatory 4 servings ($71.96), I knew this caped hero is more like a villain to my wallet.
The Lockdown is Creating Ramen Cravings.
I know my site traffic has dramatically shifted ever since we went into lockdown due to the pandemic, and any and all content related to instant ramen or buying online has now become the most popular content. It is also maybe why I have had 2-3 friends/acquaintances recently send me the new Ramen Hero ad with cowboy dude which by the way is very well done. Well, on the part of the actor playing the cowboy which I take my hat off too, but the rest of Ramen Hero’s efforts needs a lot of work.
We Need a Ramen Hero.
Not being in Los Angeles currently, I feel the pain of not having some of the best Japanese ramen chains and independents within minutes from where I live which is why there is a need for Ramen Hero because instant ramen just isn’t cutting it and the instant stuff is like a wannabe Batman wearing hockey pads.
Revealing Ramen Heroes Secret Identity.
In their About Us, they claim their mission to be:
“Our mission is to make authentic, premium Japanese ramen accessible to every noodle-loving American. We’re the first company to deliver real “Honkaku” ramen meal kits in the U.S.”– Ramen Hero
If you know anything about branding, this is the first big mistake Ramen Hero is making because they constantly tout “honkaku,” but their product line does not reflect any regional ramen type and which part of Japan is their “misosaurus” or “crying samurai” from?
In 2015, Ramen Hero founder, Hiro Hasegawa, moved to San Francisco from Tokyo to start a business – though he wasn’t quite sure in which industry.– Hiro, Founder of Ramen Hero
Starting off, this is kind of disheartening that our hero had no clue what he wanted to do when he showed up in San Francisco in 2015. It comes off as tho all he knew is that he had money (I assume a lot of money from somewhere aka parents?), and he wanted to spend it on a business although he does go on to say he is obsessed with ramen:
“What Hiro did know was ramen. He was obsessed. Even as a kid, Hiro would beg his parents to take him to ramen shops on the weekend to watch the noodles being made and of course, slurp them down. Now in San Francisco, Hiro scoured the Bay Area searching for that comforting “umami” taste of home. He soon discovered the best ramen shops were often hard to find and required waiting in long lines. Hiro knew there had to be an easier way to get real “Honkaku” ramen in America. And just like that, Ramen Hero was born. Many years later, our mission remains the same. To give every American the most delicious, most authentic Japanese ramen experience available anywhere. Happy slurping!”
Imagine if he had not been into ramen, he might have started up a flower shop. Not to mention, if he loves ramen so much, why did he move to the Bay Area, because it is not the greatest place for ramen and it wasn’t until very recently that it got any standout ramen ya. Although when he mentions long lines, or that he has a “matcha green tea” ramen on his menu, it just comes off as tho he is heavily influenced by Mensho Tokyo SF because beyond Mensho, there are only a few good tonkotsu places in the South Bay that are all a good hour drive away.
The Ramen Hero basics:
- What is Ramen Hero? ramen delivered right to your door.
- What sort of cooking skills do you need? just boil water and warm up the ingredients, no cooking skills required.
- How much? approximately $17.49 per serving (the tonkotsu ramen as an example), and they sell it in 6-packs only which comes out to $69.96 a pack. If you buy every month, you save 5%.
- What comes with it? (based upon the tonkotsu ramen as an example) 1 noodle pouch, 1 broth, pork belly chashu, wood ear mushroom, red ginger, and nori.
The Product Line.
- Totally Tonkotsu Pack – our tasty take on a classic tonkotsu ramen.
- Miso Impossible Pack – a vegan creamy miso ramen even carnivores will crave.
- Hippie Van Pack – say “namaste” to our vegan version of a classic shoyu ramen.
- Very Veggie Variety Pack – the very veggie variety pack contains two servings of each of our vegan flavors: miso impossible and hippie van.
- Burning Love Pack – kick it up a notch with our spicy tonkotsu ramen.
- The Misosaurus Pack – a spicy miso tonkotsu ramen with monster umami flavor.
- Magic Mushroom Pack – this mushroom shoyu ramen is so good it should be illegal.
- Crying Samurai Pack – a caramelized onion miso ramen so good it will bring a tear to your eye.
- The Mad Dashi Pack – a golden dashi shoyu ramen just like mama-san used to make.
- Matchamaker Pack – matcha shio ramen.
Ramen Hero has such a playful sounding product line, but it strays so far off their mission statement of producing authentic ramen that they say they do, and whoever is coming up with these product names should go read their mission statement.
Ramen Heroes Kryptonite or Their Martha.
As with any of the brands I come across, there are the brands I admire, and then there are the brands I see flailing without even knowing their sales numbers. With Ramen Hero, I see them flailing due to their haphazard approach because their product line does not match their mission statement, and their creative direction is funky AF. All of that comes across as if they have no strong vision or leadership to make this brand and product successful because they have disregarded my number one rule, which is “do not come up with a solution to a problem that does not exist.” This is the one thing I constantly tout over and over with any company I have built over the past couple of decades because Ramen Hero has come up with a product and solution that does not match the problem. So that right there is the problem because like I had said previously, there is a demand for a quality ramen, beyond just the kind you could only find in a restaurant, but this is where they have missed their mark:
- $70 or almost $18 PER SERVING (everybody’s biggest complaint): Oh Jeebus, every time I bring up price, it triggers a small group although I will put it this way, tell me how many Americans would want to pay $18 for a delivery burger? If you want an answer to that, an 8-pack of Shake Shack burgers is $49 or $6.13 a burger via GoldBelly.com (I’ll do the math for you, you can eat 3 burgers for one serving of ramen). On top of that, only in San Francisco and in New York will you ever be charged upwards $16+ for ramen, and if you have never lived or traveled throughout Los Angeles, you probably would not know that most ramen starts at $9 and averages out to $14 at the upper range. So did this dude base his entire pricing on Mensho or the Bay Area? Yea, not good because I would only pay that much for Mensho because Tomoharu Shono’san is notorious in Japan. So what makes Ramen Hero worth $18? What are Hiro Hasegawa’s credentials? Does he even have any experience in a kitchen producing regional/authentic cuisine because it is not stated anywhere on the website to demand $18.
- You can claim “honkaku” (meaning authentic) all you want, but you lost me at “hippie van” as being authentic Japanese, and from what I have seen of their menu, what part of Japan is hippie van, misosaurus, and crying samurai from? They also lose any sort of credibility when it comes to authentic because they are not producing Hakata style tonkotsu style ramen with their choice of noodles, so what regional styles are they producing that exemplifies “honkaku“? I don’t know, but maybe if I travel throughout Hokkaido, I am bound to find several restaurants doing misosaurus? Yea, I don’t think so, so their use of honkaku is a bunch of B.S.
- Just who exactly are they targeting? I can almost bet you that they do not know who they are targeting, and that line out of the movie Field of Dreams “if you build it, he will come” does not always ring true. The first thing you do when you are trying to sell a product is to develop a “user/buyer persona” of sorts. Without one, you’re creating a product in hopes that an imaginary buyer will somehow appear out of right field (I give myself a pat on the back for the baseball pun).
How to Go From Zero to Hero.
“If you see any of their social media posts, the reoccuring comment is about how they are too expensive, except Ramen Hero will tell you that’s how much ramen costs with tip at a restaurant (but you’re not at a restaurant in SF, and you’re not being served).”
DRIVE DOWN THE COST! This is not rocket science, but this is why I get paid the big bucks (hahaha), and how I see them doing just that:
- Stop shipping their product: their shippings costs due to the product being perishable is probably one of their biggest costs (the insulated packaging and dry ice), so stop shipping the product or develop a product that does not have to be refrigerated. Since, the latter is probably more difficult, they need to focus on servicing only the Bay Area because this product does not have to be sold nationwide from the start.
- Open up local kiosks, trailers, or small outlets with just a window and a freezer/refrigerator: if you can’t make it in the Bay Area, your concept isn’t going to work elsewhere. So having small kiosks or retail outlets to service just the Bay Area will allow customers to come by and pick up product without having to pay exorbitant shipping costs. Once this model has worked out, Ramen Hero could open up kiosks/small retail outlets throughout the country that could service other local markets.
- Sell in bulk: being able to sell products locally, you would be able to sell products in bulk that be can frozen to provide families and people on the go with a quick and and easy way to eat quality ramen right out of their freezer and in their own homes. I currently do this with my own surplus of product from my own ramen business.
- Work with an existing retailer/business collaboration: all you are doing is looking for a spot to help distribute product from. They can be a grocery store, local markets, to meal prep businesses, but all you are looking for is refrigeration/freezer space to be able distribute your product from because that is all you need.
EDIT (10/19/20): I Have Seen Ramen Hero Cite “As Seen People, WSJ, and Goop”
- PEOPLE: I don’t know about you, but since when do you lean on People or the WSJ for food suggestions? Even more disconcerting is that the People article “50 Food Faves of 2020” cited by Ramen Hero has this cited below it “Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.“
- WSJ: The Ramen Hero bit is embedded into an article “How to Send a Care Package That Really Hits the Mark. All it says is “Another great frozen-meal option for those missing the wider world: ramen kits from startup Ramen Hero. Each component—broth, noodles, toppings—comes in its own vacuum-packed bag. All that’s left to do is heat and eat (from $70 for a four-pack with free shipping).” You also can’t read the article unless you subscribe.
- GOOP: it’s just listed in a holiday gift guide (just a pic and price are listed).
So How Popular is Ramen Hero?
Using a very popular SEO tool, I can guestimate their monthly SEO traffic at:
- Ramen Hero: 5.46k clicks since Sept 2020 which is the highest they have reached due to paid keywords (72 of them: “ramen online, ramen delivery, frozen ramen, buy ramen noodles online, buy ramen, koyo ramen,” etc). Typically they only do a couple hundred clicks per month.
- Maruchan: in comparison, Maruchan does 46k clicks a month which is not an apples and apples comparison, but it gives you an idea how small Ramen Hero is compared to a large instant ramen producers.
I have never had the Ramen Hero product, but I have watched their efforts closely via their ads that are constantly bombarding me, to their website, and I can tell you, I started this blog to help businesses like Ramen Hero. Although most of these businesses typically never know where to seek assistance from which means it’s not always on them/their fault because even when you need help, it is hard to find the right person (or know who is the right person), which is why I give my input for FREE. After all, I started this blog to support Japanese centric businesses which is why I would like to see this company be the hero that we all want it to be because we need a Ramen Hero.