Many budding food entrepreneurs have great ideas they turn into tasty foods. It takes more than just a great tasting product to start a specialty food business and developing differentiated product positioning is the only way to compete amongst hundreds of thousands of food products the customer can choose from. Being different, finding a niche comes before spending any time and money in the kitchen developing your specialty food business dream. It is all about getting "share of stomach" with consumers. Enter Slather Brand Foods.
They knew the world was not waiting for another hot sauce or barbeque sauce AND knew consumers want exciting, bold flavors and NOT boring food. They decided on creating a universal sauce that is more like ketchup or what they call a "slather sauce" that is natural with a twist of gourmet. It should do everything that glazing and finishing sauces can do and positioned as very different from a traditional BBQ sauce. Here is the most important positioning that makes their product stand out from the others: they solve the customer's problem in providing a cure for boring foods.
Slather Brand Slatherin' Sauce was founded in October of 2009 by Robin Rhea. The original and spicy varieties are focused on being the consumers go to cure for boring foods. It is a line of all natural gourmet cooking and finishing sauce that compliments everything from warm baked brie to wild game meats. It is made with tomato base, honey, pineapple, garlic, crushed red pepper, and delicious spices. The ingredients contain no high fructose corn syrup, no preservatives, and its gluten free. (Gluten Free is one of the fasted growing segments of prepared foods that is not saturated by lots of competition and a great niche segment for food entrepreneurs seeking to start a specialty food business.
So let's explore their journey from the Kitchen, to the Retailers Shelf and on to the Consumers Plate and develop some "tasty" tips for starting a specialty food business.
I asked Robin to tell me what here light bulb moment on her journey to be a women food entrepreneur. "My light bulb moment (the aha moment) happened on a sunny, summer Sunday morning in 2009. I woke up and said, "That is it… I am going to do it. I am going to take my sauce to market." This enlightenment came after many months of soul searching and exploring possibilities of what I really wanted to do in the next phase of my life. As a former educator I had always told my students to do what you love. Now it was my turn to take my true passion and turn it into a career. I was disillusioned with corporate America and implementing ideas and strategies that I simply could not embrace."
Robin has had two very successful careers; as an educator and as a sales executive. She exemplifies that anyone can look to repurpose knowledge that has been gained during a career and apply it to starting a specialty food business whether or not you have a background in the consumer food business. She gained valuable skills from what she learned in the classroom and boardroom. Robin wants Slather Brand Foods to be more than just food. The "food" has features that competitors can easily copy and the benefits of healthy food once again are similar across brands.
She moved ahead of features and benefits into what is called "aspiration marketing" to become a life style brand. Robin said "We want to be recognized as a company that does not just create success by making a profit. We want to be able to give something back, become a voice for the things we are passionate about, and be able to use some of our profits for philanthropic purposes. Owning my own company gives me the ability to make those kinds of decisions and be charitable. One of the most valuable life lessons I embrace is the understanding that it is not what we keep in life that matters but rather what we give away to help others." This is also termed " Cause Related Marketing " a concept introduced to me by Julie Hall, Executive Vice President of Schneider Associates creator of the annual Most Memorable New Product Launches Report .