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 in the food business, that today I’d elaborate a little on some of the different elements of the biz that I enjoyed. These are likely to be parts of this business that fit well with my personality on various levels. Just for kicks and, since it is one of the parts I liked the most and therefore th area where I have some of the greatest memories, was doing exactly what we called the”food tastings”.
Basically, this would involve me having to begin by visiting with other businesses that I thought would be compatible with ours, such as gourmet stores or gift basket companies, and approaching the owners with the idea of them carrying our product line in their establishment. Now, this may seem like an easy 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 poor reflection on them. I mean, what if I had some dumb, lame flavor combination such as 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 simply are not that appealing. So, generally, here is how I would approach them. I would first bring in some samples for them to taste. This is good. This gives them something concrete with which to operate. To start with, they can feel and examine the jars. Are they something unique and attractive or another sort of”mason” jar with a different homemade label shot from an inkjet printer using a logo your came up with on napkin at Pizza Hut? Does the product look like you invested some time and thought in the design and handling? Is the emblem fresh and different, eye catching and draw the attention of the consumer by standing out? Go into any local orchard or gift basket shop and look around at how similar many of the goods are on the shelves.
The whole”made at home next to grandpa’s still” look is really getting worn and tired and business owners want and gladly welcome items which are”fresh”,”unique” and”fresh” and not just in the products name. Bear in mind, in our situation, we targeted gourmet and gift basket lines and so there was a real need to justify cost and their ultimate markup. We were up against a school of thought that was something along the lines of”Applesauce? Big deal! My grandmother (or mother or uncle or fill-in-the-blank) makes GREAT applesauce. Why should I pay $xx for something I get for free or cheap?” That’s one of the reasons you don’t find a plain applesauce in our lineup. Who would like to compare with nana? So we knew we had a different angle and devised flavor combinations. After we convinced the owner we had something new/unique we let them taste the product itself to judge as to whether they liked the quality, feel and taste.
IF we got this much we then brought up the idea of doing a tasting for their customers. This accomplished a few things. It helped draw customers from the door. There is nothing like the smell of fresh cooked applesauce to get people interested. Secondly, it gave customers the opportunity to sample something new and possibly even novel (come on now, Pineapple/Banana?) . Third, customers got the opportunity to talk and interact with the products creator/owner. This worked marvels and took some of the mystique out of the new addition to the shops line. Complete with stories of some GREAT customer interactions.