Blogging Out Loud

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Back to Basics.

The artisan economy has been blooming for years, and consumers are responding.

What came first: the chicken or the egg? It's always a tricky concept, especially in marketing. One thing is certain, though: stories -- be they about chickens, eggs or cooking oil -- resonate with consumers.

I was at my local farmer’s market the other day, juggling a couple of ears of corn with some peaches and pint of cherries, when I stopped dead in my tracks and started laughing at myself. Earlier in the day, I’d read an article called “Artisanal America” in the August issue of Details magazine (you can read it — and you should read it — here). Part geography lesson, part satire, the article attempts to demystify what the author sees as a burgeoning nationwide movement of curated taste (I know I’m guilty). It argues that the industrial revolution destroyed our sense of scale. Explains anthropologist, author and trend watcher Grant McCracken: “The big shift from agriculture to industry exploded our sense of scale. But the digital blows that all to bits, no pun intended. That’s why we love things little and handmade—it restores a sense of scale.” It’s a good point, but I would argue that it’s not a smaller scale we want. It’s a story. And good stories — be they artisan, family-owned, grass-fed, organic, local, or even a specialty line within a larger brand — often come in smartly crafted packages.

Maybe I’m just blogging out loud here, but it seems like going back to the basics and tapping into the artisanal trend sends a powerful message of respect — for choice, for quality, even for self-expression. These are some of the most American of desires. We are, after all, the country where “you can do anything.” We pride ourselves on being unique and creative. We fiercely guard our freedoms. We like things that are authentic, and nostalgia resonates with us.

We’ve seen brands big and small — from Anheuser-Busch to Tito’s Handmade Vodka — succeed at doing this. But we’d be wrong to think the trend is all about booze, or even bake sales, although artisan breads, pickles and preserves are popular for good reason. All sorts of products can benefit from “going basic.” Vertical Marketing Network recently worked on a downright down-home campaign for LouAna oil brand. The campaign centered on a story the agency uncovered that resonated with cooks, especially Southern ones: the fact that LouAna is the oldest oil brand produced in the South. Building a story based on heritage, a new tagline was born, and the agency went on to promote it with a cooking tour that offered demos, coupons, recipes and more. The ideas are hardly new (the artisan economy has been blooming for years), but it’s a great example of how tapping into this trend and offering up something tangible — be it a coupon, product sample, recipe card or the like — conveys a desire to have consumers give your product a try. With studies showing that four out of five US adults enjoy cooking , whether it be out of necessity or for the sheer fun factor, getting a food sample (especially a truly delicious one) into the hands of consumers is the best way to get it on their tables. And getting it into their hands could begin with some smart storytelling.

Some people say we are what we eat, but I say we are what we buy. The Details piece argued smaller tastes better, and that may be true. Smaller also feels better, and you can’t argue with basic needs.

Brought to you by Vertical Marketing Network, a Leading Integrated Marketing Agency.
Photo credit: Pugnacious Spirit

About JJ Nelson

Freelance blogger for Vertical Marketing Network; food writer; bartender.

5 comments on “Back to Basics.

  1. Pingback: The Commercial, 2.0. « Blogging Out Loud

  2. Pingback: Listomania and Other Could-be Words. « Blogging Out Loud

  3. Ryan Bish
    August 17, 2010

    The Albertson’s grocery store went out of business down the street from my house and it was replaced by a Wholesome Choice. I was thinking that there is no way this store can make it with its higher prices, smaller items, ethnic & organic foods. The place is packed everyday, looks like twice the number of people there than ever before. I guess this “Artisanal American” trend is in full swing. It appears the back to basics approach really works.


    • JJ Nelson
      August 18, 2010

      Very interesting, Ryan! Thanks.


  4. Tamara Young
    August 15, 2010

    Good simple concept here that somehow we need to make smaller …more marketable


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This entry was posted on August 10, 2010 by in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , .

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