Shin Minori Free Japanese Buffet Birthday Treat: Promotion Goes Viral & Crashes Website

I signed up yesterday for Shin Minori’s *free* birthday treat because I was told that it’s a superb deal: you get to go for a Japanese buffet meal FOR FREE on your birthday, no strings attached. Being Singaporean, and kiasu, I signed up. THEN I realized that I have already booked a flight to Bangkok for my birthday (because of Scoot’s recent oh-so-cheap-fares promotion!) (@_@) You can doubt many things about me (are those eyelashes real?) but you can never doubt that I’m Singaporean and I am a sucker for “good” deals.πŸ˜€

It comes as no surprise, then, that I received an email from Shin Minori (since I’m already on their subscriber list – signed up yesterday, remember?) regarding how their promotion went viral and crashed their site not once, but twice. Here’s an excerpt:

“We have received quite a number of feedback from some subscribers to our Birthday Treat promotion that they either did not receive the download voucher, or they cannot access the page.

The main reason was the massive response that the promotion has generated and caused our website to be down twice for last few days. We have exceeded the website bandwidth due to the surge on site visitors. However, we have increased the bandwidth and has fixed the issue.”

Whoever their marketing person is, he/she has taken a (hopefully calculated) risk.

Singaporeans love freebies but most of them are pretty smart as well. We KNOW that Shin Minori is hoping we’ll bring our friends along when we go for our birthday treat (and that our friends will pay).

Thing is, I’ve already had one friend send out a Whatsapp message to say that he “will go eat alone”, after praising the company for being “smart” in believing we will have friends accompany us. Another person in the group chat responded with “Yah! I’ll go alone also.”

At first glance, this promotion seems like a brilliant marketing strategy. It basically turns the usual “3 paying diners and 1 eats for free” deal around, and offers the FREE meal upfront in the hope that the diner brings 3 other friends (or more?).

BUT, it fails to consider how there are Singaporeans who just love good deals and WILL take advantage of them. There are people who are not poor but will eat at soup kitchens or wherever there is free food. And people who will drive up in their BMWs and Mercedes to collect free textbooks. What will stop people from turning up for a free Japanese buffet on their own?

A fear of dining alone? [Not me! I love dining alone, and watching movies alone, and shopping alone…]

IF the offer still stands, and if the restaurant is still around in October, and IF my Bangkok plans change, I’ll go eat at Shin Minori.πŸ˜€πŸ˜€πŸ˜€

Even if the restaurant makes a loss from the horde of freebie-loving Singaporeans who turn up alone for their birthday treats, at least they have many thousands of subscribers on their mailing list, right?πŸ˜‰

If you want to sign up for your birthday treat, here’s the link:ΒΒ [Update: this page was supposed to be taken down on 15 Jan 2014 but was removed even before 10 Jan 2014]

Shin Minori japanese restaurant

How Other Businesses Can Learn From This:

1) Make an irresistibly good offer;

2) Post the offer on hardwarezone forum or some other forum with lots of traffic;

3) Singaporeans will share the offer for you = No advertising costs!!!

*Ensure your website won’t crash with the sudden surge in site visitors

~ If only I was born in JanuaryπŸ˜€


Shortly after I uploaded this blogpost, the offer was removed from Shin Minori’s website. I guess the website crashed again. I’m not quite sure why the management decided to pull the plug on the offer, but hopefully it’s not due to my blogpost. (@_@)

One (smart) thing they could have done was to request that people who want the birthday treat MUST ‘like’ their facebook page first. Their page currently has 1,348 fans. If they had requested for ‘likes’, I suppose their fan numbers will be at 25,000 (at least) by now.

If they had collected data (name, birthdays, etc) via a Facebook app, perhaps their site won’t crash so often.πŸ˜€

Ultimately, I think it’s a loss-making decision. Singaporeans will turn up for free food without their friends. I think I can manage a buffet lunch on my birthday without anyone accompanying me.πŸ˜€πŸ˜€πŸ˜€ A less-risky move would be a 1-for-1 deal, which is pretty good too, in any case.