March 9, 2017
The other day I got into the back recesses of my kitchen cabinets and found a bevy of specialty food products. You probably know exactly the type of thing I’m talking about. There were specialty oils that had been gifted to me three holiday seasons ago that I was saving for a ‘special’ dinner (and then promptly forgot were in my cabinet). There was a hard-to-find vanilla extract that I had been meaning to use but then…well, promptly forgot about since it was stored in a different cabinet than my usual vanilla extract (in part because this specialty bottle wouldn’t fit in the space with the rest of my spices/extracts). There was a bag of dry heirloom bean mix that would probably make a delicious soup if….well, you get the idea.
All of these great products just wasting away in the back of my cabinet. When I, embarrassingly, asked around amongst my friends, I discovered I wasn’t the only one. Lots of time specialty food products go unused either because someone is saving them for a special occasion (that never arrives) or because the item is too intimidating to cook with.
This got me thinking. If we food entrepreneurs want people to purchase from us again and again, then we need to give them reason to use our products now – not next week, not when that ‘special’ event happens – but now. We need to give them ideas about how to use the products and help demystify them. Yes, our products are classified as ‘specialty’ but that doesn’t mean they can’t be used for everyday.
Obviously the easiest way to encourage use is to share recipe ideas, or, if you have a finished product, share ways the product can be eaten (i.e., what should you pair with it, can you bring it to book group, can it be used in an usual way), but also think beyond the usual uses for your item. I was looking at a box of specialty cereal the other day and everything they mentioned talked about morning/breakfast. What about taking a page from Rice Krispies and talking about ways to use and enjoy the product outside of breakfast time? Don’t pigeon-hole your product into one time of day or into one use – think broadly and give your customers as much reason as possible to start using your box, bottle, jar, can, etc. today. Because the sooner they finish that the sooner they’ll be back to buy more.