Why a Niche Product Line is A Smart Local Marketing Idea
Mar 29, 2015 Ellen Bowers
Oils, vinegars, and spices are only a fraction of the types of foods and food products consumed by most Americans. They fill less than one side of one isle in a grocery store. In fact, many people may not even be aware that there are more than a couple kinds of vinegar, or realize that vinegars can be healthy and enjoyable additions to their diet—even for those who don’t like vinaigrette dressings. So it may be surprising that a whole store can be devoted to the sale of those three things: vinegar, oil, and spice. Not only a whole store, but there is a whole corporation devoted to sourcing quality varieties and distributing them to their chain of such stores around the world. VOM FASS in the Hamilton Town Center mall is one of those stores, locally owned and operated.
The VOM FASS corporation ensures that every product is quality and made by small artisanal producers, but it is up to Anyta Ramanathan, who owns and operates this store to make her community aware and desirous of her shop’s products. Ramanathan’s store has an active social media presence, and a beautiful website which displays most of its products as well as a growing selection of recipes that illustrate how to use the products in wonderful everyday dishes. Ramanathan and her employees have invested time and effort in being present at community events, donating gift certificates to charity auctions, making guest appearances on local TV, and showing every store visitor a wonderful experience.
The products at VOM FASS are of very high quality, but there is also something special about visiting the store which sets VOM FASS apart from so many other retailers. On top of the staff being friendly and knowledgeable, anyone who walks in is offered a taste of anything in the store before buying, with no obligation. It’s when you start tasting that you realize what a wonderfully large selection they actually have. They put a few drops each of an oil and a vinegar into a spoon, so that you can taste combinations. This is an excellent service, as well as great local marketing idea. Who knew there could be so many flavors of oil and vinegar or that they could be so enjoyable? The combinations are almost endless, which means that you could really bring life to your boring meal routine—adding fresh flavors to your old favorites or creating new delights.
When your category of product is narrow, it’s good to have multiple benefits. Many of VOM FASS’s flavorful products carry dietary health advantages, but some of the oils they stock are also beauty aids—natural hair and skin conditioners.
Another important factor for selling niche or specialty products is educating potential customers. For those who are new to cooking, who don’t have a gift for imagining the possibilities, or who just love food, the VOM FASS store has frequent “Tasting Parties” where you get to have fun learning and helping to prepare foods with their products, and then tasting the foods. Tickets to these tasting parties are very inexpensive and make great gifts, or can be used to share a fun activity with your friends. You can even arrange a custom Tasting Party that can feature any type of food you want to learn about.
Quality products, free product tasting, friendly and knowledgeable staff, community engagement at area events and through social media, and fun, educational, interactive demonstrations are all things that allow Ramanathan to build a thriving business out of what sounds small and simple–oil, vinegar, and spices.
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