Some of the most popular headlines at the start of every year are about upcoming trends. What’s “hot” for 2012, what’s “not hot” any more. It’s easy to get caught up in chasing the latest media darling.
But there is a danger to being on anyone’s hot list. It can give you an immediate boost in sales, but also might leave you with a false sense of security – because hot eventually cools off. Worst still, if you create sales projections based on your newly-found celebrity, you can end up with a warehouse full of product.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s a wonderful adventure to win the PR lottery by making the “O” list and landing some accolades for “hot new product of the year”. But rather than holding out hope for that rare mention on an influential laundry list, I advise packaged goods clients to take another tack. Set your sights on quietly becoming a perennial pantry provision instead.
One of the biggest challenges that higher priced, high-quality condiments face is that they are thought of as special-occasion treats. Is it an oxymoron to suggest that these products market themselves as everyday staples? Maybe, but that’s the very best way to speed up the repeat purchase cycle and ensure that your product stays “hot” long after the kudos fade.
So, how can you do it? I’ll use extra virgin olive oil as a perfect example.
First, give your customers permission to use it every day. Overwhelm them with recipe ideas for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Tempt them with new ways to use it they haven’t thought of before. Make simple suggestions that infuse it in every dish. Remind them a little goes a long way. Make adding a dash of fruity, pungent olive oil as automatic as reaching for salt or pepper to finesse the final seasoning of any dish.
When your customers think of you as a “pantry provision”, you have a true hit. Tried-and-true brands are the ones that last through the vagaries of a fickle marketplace. Especially at a time when there is such heightened awareness of truth-in-labeling issues, flat-out fraudulent product, and pocketbook sticker shock.
Second, reward customer loyalty. In a marketplace where consumers are bombarded with choice, high-end products have to deliver on a bigger promise in order to gain repeat purchases. What sets the best specialty food products apart from grocery store brands is not just requisite quality, but a rock-solid company reputation for customer appreciation.
In today’s connected world, it’s easy for companies to acknowledge their best customers. Staying on their radar through targeted email campaigns, Facebook coupons or website offers is simple and pays real benefits by ensuring customer retention.
Finally, the best quality to be known for is making a commitment that your product value matches the price you are asking a customer to pay. If you can consistently deliver on that promise, you will have a hot product year after year.