So, today, I thought I’d do a follow up to my applesauce article. I figured that since I got the ball rolling with a”tasting” of what it was like to work for myself and, more especially from the food industry, that today I’d elaborate a bit on some of the different aspects of the biz that I loved. These are likely to be parts of the business that fit well with my personality on various levels. Things like working the food tastings, cooking, working with the creative folks that developed our logo, etc.. Just for kicks and, since it is one of the parts I enjoyed the most and therefore th area in which I have some of the greatest memories, was doing what we called the”food tastings”.
Fundamentally, this would involve me having to start by visiting with other companies that I thought would be compatible with ours, such as gourmet stores or gift basket companies, and approaching the owners with the notion of them carrying our product line in their institution. Now, this might seem like a simple thing to do, but, bear in mind that 1) they’ve never heard of me or my organization, and 2) they risk their reputation if a product they bring in turns out to be a bad reflection on them. I mean, what if I had some dumb, lame flavor combination like sardine and marshmallow applesauce? Or turnip and liver?
Sure, they may operate in a niche market (a VERY niche market), but, when you get down and dirty they just aren’t that appealing. So, generally, here’s how I’d approach them. I would bring in some samples for them to taste. This is good. This gives them something concrete with which to work. To start with, they can feel and examine the jars. Are they something unique and attractive or another type of”mason” jar with another homemade label shot from an inkjet printer with a logo your came up with on napkin at Pizza Hut? Does the product look like you spent some time and thought in the design and handling? Is the logo fresh and different, eye catching and draw the attention of the customer by standing out? There is just so much room for another”Aunt Alice’s Homemade Whatever” or”Grandma Betty’s Favorite You Name It”. Go into any local orchard or gift basket store and look around at how similar many of the goods are on the shelves.
The entire”made at home next to grandpa’s still” look is really getting worn and tired and business owners need and gladly welcome items which are”new”,”unique” and”new” and not only in the products name. Remember, in our case, we targeted gourmet and gift basket lines and so there was a real need to justify cost and their ultimate markup. We were also up against a school of thought that was something along the lines of”Applesauce? Big deal! My grandmother (or mom or uncle or fill-in-the-blank) makes GREAT applesauce. Why should I pay $xx for something I get for cheap or free?” That’s one of the reasons you don’t see a plain applesauce in our lineup. Who would like to compare with nana? So we knew we needed a different angle and devised flavor combinations. Once we convinced the proprietor we had something new/unique we let them taste the product to judge as to whether they liked the quality, texture and taste.
IF we got this much we then brought up the idea of doing a tasting for their clients. This accomplished a couple of things. First, it helped draw customers from the door. There is nothing like the smell of fresh cooked applesauce to get people curious. Secondly, it gave customers the chance to sample something new and maybe even book (come on now, Pineapple/Banana?) . Third, customers got the opportunity to speak and interact with the products creator/owner. This worked marvels and took some of the mystique out of the new addition to the stores line. My next article will continue with examples of how the food tastings exercised. Complete with tales of some GREAT customer interactions.