In high school, most kids would mix mayonnaise and ketchup and use it as a dipping sauce for either pizza or tater tots. It wasn’t exactly classy, but it was a good indication of how important and creative condiments can be.
The food industry is no stranger to this idea, and each global region has their own take on similar sauces. For example, the Japanese version of mayonnaise is drastically different from the American version. It’s both sweeter and thicker than American mayo, and it’s used for different things.
Understanding both the versatility and the potential in condiments is a surprisingly effective marketing strategy. New sauces are often created by accident, but the right market and advertisements can make them famous, like a new version of Sriracha. Sauce and condiment sales topped $25 billion in the US in 2016. You probably never considered how much your regular purchases of salad dressings contributed to the overall industry! Here’s why condiments benefit business.
Options are king
Any walk down an aisle in an American grocery store points you to one unalterable fact—Americans love choices.
There are only so many ways you can alter a hot dog while keeping it a hot dog, but you can put any sauce on top of it that you want.
Any company in the food industry can help satisfy the desire for variety by offering a wide selection of sauces. Buffalo Wild Wings is famous for their wings, and not because they’re unusual, but because they provide such a wide variety of sauces. Other companies have jumped on the train. Companies are using everything from Sriracha-flavored ketchup to whiskey-infused mustard to expand their options.
One of the ways many companies are cashing in without doing a lot to alter their favorite products is by jumping on recent food trends. The all-natural or whole food trend has led to companies like, Hershey’s Chocolate, to create sauces that have only five ingredients.
It’s a sort of faux-health branding technique, making consumers think it’s more wholesome and healthy while still selling people chocolate-flavored sugar. While these food fads are mostly marketing trends, there are other ways to encourage people to explore new options.
Other options for the health food world include a wide variety of options. Things like low-sugar or low-sodium are popular, along with reduced-fat or fat-free, organic and non-GMO. Other keywords include healthy, all-natural and humanely-raised.
It’s important to note that some of these have no actual definitions and companies can use them to mean whatever they want. Some, like organic and fat-free, have specific regulations. In fact, the FDA even gets involved in what can be called mayonnaise, a sauce which has to contain at least 65 percent oil to be labeled as such.
Tastes from around the world
Entirely new sauces are rarer, but that doesn’t mean companies aren’t introducing sauces from other parts of the world. This has a great impact on immigrants or tourists coming to the US who are looking for a traditional taste of home. It also works to help expose Americans to new flavors and offers companies a simple way to expand their selection.
International brands can find an easy foothold with sauces and condiments. It’s usually much cheaper to find a place in the sauces and condiments section as opposed to the more popular areas, like prepackaged, dry foods or breakfast options.
One of the other keys to introducing global sauces is their versatility. Traditional sauces in one country may be used on rice or meats, but can also easily be used in American dishes. If it goes well on rice, it’ll probably also go well on sandwiches, or even be used in egg salad or as a topping on hot dogs. Experimenting like this makes them more useful to Americans who will then use the sauces on a wide variety of dishes instead of buying them for one specific thing.
However, that doesn’t mean that everyone is going for it. It can be a good idea for businesses creating new sauces to try and educate consumers on traditional ways to use them. Providing directions can be easy, like printing a recipe or website on the label. Many companies already do this, so consumers are perfectly happy to learn this way. It can also lead to new users trying entirely new kinds of dishes, expanding their culinary repertoire.
The creative reach of condiments
Introducing a variety of condiments may not be the most original idea, but it’s certainly an effective one. And getting a piece of a multi-billion-dollar industry is no small feat for a new company. Condiments serve many purposes, including mixing and matching flavor profiles and introducing new types of cooking to people.
Food has always been a way to bring people together. Now, it can do that even more efficiently by starting with what they know.
DISCLAIMER: This article expresses my own ideas and opinions. Any information I have shared are from sources that I believe to be reliable and accurate. I did not receive any financial compensation in writing this post, nor do I own any shares in any company I’ve mentioned. I encourage any reader to do their own diligent research first before making any investment decisions.
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