When the sellers of Grey Goose
super premium vodka launched their product, they actually sent teams of
marketers to upscale bars to educate bartenders about the basics of vodka, and why
Grey Goose was worth its higher price. (For starters, it’s distilled in Cognac,
France from French wheat, although the filtration process is probably more important) The marketers behind Grey Goose understood the
crucial role that education plays in the marketing of high quality products.
The reality of product
distribution is that the vast majority of buyers don’t care about quality at
all. They care about price, and they care about a track record of success.
Period. This puts smaller manufacturers somewhere between a rock and a hard
place. It’s difficult – often impossible – to compete with products from
low-wage countries on price. But it’s also difficult to gain distribution for a
One of the reasons for this
situation is that many people just plain can’t tell the difference between a
quality product and one that’s “good enough.”
I’ll never forget my first
experience with a wood plain. As a child, I had spent hours hanging out
watching carpenters as they built the new houses that were springing up in my
neighborhood. I loved watching the long ribbons of wood that curled out of their
planes as they glided along against a board that needed to be fitted. But when,
as a teenager, I actually tried to do it myself, the plane obstinately skipped along the
wood, alternately gouging the surface and leaving it untouched.
When I later became a serious
woodworker I realized it wasn’t me, it was the plane. American manufacturers,
at least in the woodworking sector, had crossed the line from “good”
to “good enough.” If you wanted to by a good plane, you had to buy
from the UK, or perhaps Germany.
Today, for better or worse,
America has more or less ceded the “good enough” market to
manufacturers in low-wage countries, but there is clearly room for quality
products. The question is, how can you educate customers to the point where
they will understand the quality of your product? Some suggestions:
PR: Half the content of most
magazines (and their associated web sites) is written by PR agencies, not staff
writers. If you have great gardening tools, you can write stories about the
principles that make them great. You can’t plug your products directly, but
that’s okay. The goal is education, not sales
Your own web site: This is a
place where you have complete control. Take the time to explain the features
that give your product a lead in quality. And don’t forget to explain their
benefits as well!
Packaging: You can use packaging to tell your story.
For successful examples, read the copy on packages in health food stores. It’s
often a little romantic, but does a good job of pointing out differentiators to
the target market.