Keep it local
The perceived size of a company can also play into a consumer’s willingness to purchase a product. Increasingly, shoppers have a “big is bad” mentality. A 2015 study published by the Center for Food Integrity revealed that “whether comparing local food companies to national food companies or small farms to large farms, the results are the same: a significant percentage of the public (in some cases a majority) feel smaller companies and farms are more likely to share their values.”
The grocery store perimeter is the perfect place for local and regional cookie and cracker makers to connect with consumers looking for a brand they consider to be approachable and trustworthy.
“There’s a lot of regional traction to these things,” Mr. Van Laar said. “The name may be known in an area, and do well there, but in another area there is no brand recognition at all. It’s almost a boutique business.”
The team at Love, Cookie took this into consideration when marketing their product to grocery store chains in and around New Orleans and the larger Gulf South region.
“We’re good with being more or less a local/regional player right now because that appeals to people more,” Mr. Sorensen said. “Somebody in Portland might not want to buy something from New Orleans if they can get something from Portland.”
La Panzanella got a similar start when it moved from being a family bread bakery to a grocery retailer.
“We started locally, and the crackers were kind of a happenstance,” Mr. Lorenz said.
According to company legend, the head of sales at the time, Antonio Galati, was making a sales call to the Four Seasons hotel in Seattle, where the buyer mentioned his frustrations with the hotel’s current cracker supplier. Mr. Galati’s mother was visiting and had developed a flatbread cracker while playing around in the kitchen. He asked if he could come back the following day with some samples, and the Four Seasons ended up being La Panzanella’s first account for crackers.
Stories like this help brands — even national ones — tap into consumers’ desire to support smaller, more personable companies.