Despite the challenges we’ve faced during the past year, some of the same driving principles drive us forward and inform our decisions. At heart, we are passionate about home and family, and we’re lucky enough to be in an industry whose heart and soul are a big part of that.
We’re talking about a way of life and a way of living—cooking together, enjoying a good meal, swapping recipes, and discovering new flavors to try. Families were cooking at home more frequently, so there was a lot of experimentation in the kitchen, and even kids were getting in on the action. What greater sense of accomplishment is there than to feed the people you love and experience the joy that brings?
How Did You Connect?
At the store level, we’ve seen and heard about many innovative and creative new offerings take center stage. While each idea was aimed at keeping customers engaged, we sparked new conversations, created new friendships, and brought people together to share common interests. Those novel ideas turned into recurring themes for some locations, and now there’s no looking back.
If there’s a silver lining to all of this, it’s that we’ve rediscovered what feeds the soul.
Here are some of the ways our stores connected over the past year:
- Online Cooking Classes. Before COVID, many families had their “go-to” meals and recipes. But with more time at home and fewer options for eating out and takeaway, a little variety was in order. Online cooking classes exploded during the pandemic, and many specialty food stores jumped on the trend. It was a way to connect directly with their audience and find out more about them. Even though you could consider it a marketing initiative, it was more like getting together with friends. Effortless, collaborative, and ultimately successful because the ingredients were ready to ship or pick up. Gain a fan, gain a customer.
- Virtual Tastings and Demonstrations. For the adventurous palate, there’s nothing like trying something new. Virtual tastings became a way to share insights and impart wisdom, including origin stories about the products. Every artisanal product has a story behind it, whether it’s olive oil, balsamic vinegar, or a specialty soap, and people are far more likely to purchase products they have an emotional connection to. Everybody loves a good story, and the people behind the scenes are always so interesting!
- Interactive Live Streaming Demos. In the absence of in-person get-togethers, live streaming became a way to foster connection in a more immediate sense. Whether it was a live tasting or cooking demo, the audience is invited in to ask questions and interact with what’s going on. From follow-along projects to Q&A with special guests, communications technology and social media helped us discover interesting people and places, sometimes on the other side of the world. We built and strengthened community, encouraged camaraderie, and sparked new friendships founded on shared passions.
What new connections have you made during the past year? We’d love to hear about them! Reach out today and share your story.