Feeling the kick of fresh hot sauce from a new bottle is always a delight for spice-seekers! But it takes more than a great recipe to sell sauce. A fully-planned marketing strategy can send products flying off the shelves and keep customers coming back for more.
Last year, we introduced our series of marketing guides with Candle Business Marketing. This month, we kick off our 2020 marketing tips with a sweet and spicy strategy for your hot sauce business!
Understanding the Market for Your Hot Sauce Business
The team at Glassnow has always loved the hot sauce companies that we work with and we aren’t alone. The hot sauce market has been growing steadily for years and will soon hit an all-time high.
A report by Fortune Business Insights found that “The global hot sauce market size was USD 2.29 billion in 2018 and is projected to reach USD 3.77 billion by the end of 2026.” So much growth begs two important questions:
1. How competitive is the hot sauce market?
This growth in the market is met with an intense growth of competition, which in this industry means contending with some of the heaviest hitters in food. Giants like Kraft Heinz Co. & Clorox Co. dominate the market with multiple product lines and target markets.
A few of the biggest hot sauce brands we may all be familiar with include:
- Cholula – Best known for its perfect blend of heat and tang.
- Frank’s RedHot – The put-on-anything spicy buffalo flavor.
- Huy Fong Sriracha – A global favorite hot sauce, found in almost any kitchen.
- Tabasco – A generational sensation, Tabasco will be celebrating its 152nd birthday this year.
- Texas Pete – From North Carolina? That’s right. The mild and flavorful hot sauce was born outside of Texas for the BBQ lovers that wanted a bit more of a kick.
2. How does a small business compete with the market giants?
Despite the mammoth competition, many smaller hot sauce businesses succeed in gaining a foothold among their specific targeted demographics.
What are they doing differently from those sauces that will never see grocery shelves?
Highlight What Makes Your Hot Sauce Business Unique
All successful hot sauce brands on the market have unique values they offer to their customers, whether it be the quality of the ingredients, amazing flavors & heat, or the story behind the company.
Honing in on yours and telling your brand’s story will help your sauce stand out in such heated competition. Here are a few places to start.
Hot Sauce Marketing Tip: Become a “specialty sauce”
Of all the sauces using tabasco peppers, you would most likely think of the Tabasco brand sauce off the top of your head. This is the prime example of how an effective marketing focus like ingredients or spiciness can move mountains.
Many hot sauce brands may have very similar ingredients, but the way they are highlighted in marketing communications is the true differentiator. An effective positioning strategy has proven to make a difference in the way a consumable food product actually tastes to a consumer.
If you use local habanero peppers, make it clear to shoppers. Customers are increasingly choosing organic and locally-sourced ingredients when they shop. If your sauce is insanely hot, own it! The hottest of sauces are granted the marketing flexibility of adding humor to their messaging. One of our favorite examples is Mad Dog 357, a super hot sauce that lets you “live life to its hottest.”
Tell the Story of Your Hot Sauce Brand
The roots of a hot sauce business usually start with a great recipe. Whether it’s from your great-grandma or from a late-night experiment in your apartment kitchen, it’s these stories that need to be told.
An entertaining, personal story will resonate with your customers and create their own personal connection to your product. In this way, the purchase of your hot sauce product means more to a customer than the purchase of a generic brand. So get it out there, and do it in multiple channels. Talk about your roots, both offline & online, where it can reach the biggest audience.
Adding your story or unique ingredients to the bottle is also a smart strategy. Stubb’s Original BBQ Sauce is a favorite in the South, and the legendary story of “Stubb” lives on every bottle. Below that, is the ingredients list that highlights the “all-natural, gluten-free” elements that are blended together for an incredible flavor.
Stubb’s, along with other successful sauce brands, uses an omnichannel approach. Tell the story, talk about the flavor, and discuss the unique ingredients consistently on your bottle, website, social media, and beyond.
Identify Your Hot Sauce Brand’s Customer Base
Highlighting your qualities and sharing your story not only helps your customers find you, but it also helps you find your customers. This may be a preference for certain peppers, cultures, and spiciness, or perhaps the foods that it can be paired with. These correlate to specific demographics of customers. Understanding who that is for your brand and how to speak to them can save tremendous effort and marketing dollars while giving you great insight on how/where to communicate with them.
Branding Your Hot Sauce Business
With an understanding of who your customer base is, you have the tools you need to begin branding your business & your products! This goes far beyond simply how your products look, but how you sell & discuss them across multiple mediums.
Now more than ever, people align their personal identities with the brands they enjoy, as if they’re the best of friends. This requires your brand to have a personality, which should be very similar to that of your customers’ favorite person.
Just by their reaction to product features, you can start to infer things about your audience’s personality:
- Enjoy trying new & spicy things in life
- Of a culture or diet whose foods go well with your sauce
- Identify with family values of your story
- Can quickly find and buy your sauce
These are the connections between you and your customers, ones that take on different tones when discussing one or the other. Fans of spice may enjoy a more extreme tone, while those who like the nostalgic roots of your story might prefer a warm & friendly one.
Nailing the style of your copy keeps customers invested in your brand, both financially & personally. This tone extends further still when it comes to your brand’s design elements.
Brand & Label Designs
Whether you’re on grocery shelves or handing out free samples, your brand’s design elements are a customer’s first impression, and the first step in the customer’s purchase journey. Your logo & label are tasked with communicating the same tone & highlights as your copy but on a purely visual level.
The best labels communicate your brand’s personality independent of the actual copy, jumping off the shelves to catch your customer’s eye. Luckily, the nature of the hot sauce industry allows for plenty of bright colors that demand to be picked up. However, among a sea of fiery reds & yellows, these normally loud colors may fall on deaf ears.
We’d recommend the following guidelines for labeling your sauce:
- Keep your designs minimalist and to the point – sometimes more is less, and negative space in design is eye-catching.
- Avoid an overwhelming amount of reds & yellows as primary colors, but rather use them for highlighting specific elements.
- Pure white coloring should be reserved for text only.
- For conveying high spice-levels, consider using black instead of red. It speaks to the elegant side of the brand.
- For low spice-levels, use cool colors rather than monotonous greens. Now, this may be hard to make work, so you must first consider your overall design before mixing and matching.
These tips will make your brand instantly recognizable, while also leaving room for a variety of flavors to develop & sell down the road.
Choosing Top-Notch Hot Sauce Jars & Bottles
One of the most important packaging elements, alongside label design, is the container. Nothing speaks more to your product’s quality than its packaging. As the second sensory experience for your customer, touch plays a huge role in selling your product.
No other packaging has the type of quality feeling that glass does. Its heft & strength is completely unmatched, and the unique designs of glass packaging are far more abundant than plastics. With bottles & jars for all types of hot sauces, Glassnow makes it clear that we love sauces.
Here are just a few of the options we offer to this industry, all of which can be found in our collection of Dips & Sauces packaging:
|3.4oz Square Glass Jar||2" L x 2" W x 2.75" H||Large, flat sides for easy labeling|
|3.4oz Rectangle Glass Jar||1.75" L x 1.75" W x 4.25" H||Slim design for maximized shelf space|
|8oz Apothecary Glass Jar||3" L x 3" W x 3.5" H||Wide mouth for easy pouring of thick product|
|8.5oz Roma Glass Bottle||2.5" L x 2.5" W x 4.75" H||Threaded cap compatible with metal or plastic screw caps|
|5oz Rio Glass Bottle||2.75" L x 1.5" W x 4.25" H||Large front & back sides for bigger labeling|
|8oz Apothecary Glass Bottle||2.5" L x 2.5" W x 5.75" H||9 eye-catching color options|
Tips For Your Hot Sauce on Social Media
In the digital age, the best thing you can do for your brand is to be active on social media. Doing so opens up your potential audience well beyond the reach of traditional marketing, while also allowing your existing customers to interact with you at any time. Competing for online attention, however, is tough in a noisy world. Below, we list a few tips that we’ve seen work in maximizing audience reach and growing social media engagement.
Photos sell: Showcase Your Hot Sauce Brand in Use
People love looking at food as much as they do eating it. Instagram is the perfect platform for foodies and restaurants to make us all jealous. As a condiment, many of these could feature your product. Enter into the conversation by showing your audience how to use your product; in what dishes or with what foods.
Pictures of your hot sauce paired with the perfect dish give people an idea of where and when to try it. You can even create videos, some with mouth-watering, commercial-style looping, and others with longer-form instructional meal prep content. You can go further by sharing recipes that include your product in a place that gets that extra click, perhaps as a full recipe that lives only on your website that you promote using a short social media version.
Not only will people be talking about your product, but using it in the unique ways you present. And best of all, your audience may decide to create their own content and post about you.
Promote User-Generated Content of Your Hot Sauce
Inspire your customers to create content and post about their experiences. You can do this in the form of a challenge or a “submit your creations” contest. User-Generated Content is an effective way to harness word of mouth in the digital age, providing you with visual content with none of the preparation.
It’s always a powerful method to incentivize your customers to advocate for your products online. Showing love to your advocates encourages others to do the same, and the result is even more awareness and content that is noise-generating for your brand in the long term.
Create Social Media Ads for Your Hot Sauce Brand
These media-rich digital channels allow you to distribute visually appealing hot sauce content, by both organic & paid means. By adding a few dollars to boost this content, you can target hot sauce lovers to:
- Take advantage of online deals
- Know when you’ve become available in nearby stores
- Let them know of events you’re part of
There are a number of free tools available for creating ad mocks, such as this Facebook Ads Previewer. Be sure to thoroughly explore your ad targeting options for Facebook, Instagram, Google, and other social channels. And don’t forget to retarget. Shoppers that visit your website can be served ads later on, with messages that are specific to their previous experiences.
For example, you may have run a contest or promotional campaign that led traffic to a specific page on your website. Tools like the Facebook Pixel or Google Ads Tag, which must be installed on your website, allow you to build an audience that has visited your pages or taken specific actions and then serve them ads down the road.
This is especially effective when you have made your way to new shelves and want to promote to those who have heard about you before.
Other Marketing Ideas to Grow Your Hot Sauce Business
We discussed social media marketing ideas, and yet there are so many other means of promoting your hot sauce business, both off and online. Let’s explore a few more!
Hot Sauce Contests to Promote that X-Factor
Loading the truck, setting up the booth, and standing for long hours may discourage you from physically getting in front of people. But it’s absolutely worth it. No matter where you are in the country, there is more than likely a hot sauce/food contest or festival within driving distance. It is worth your time to enter these as often as you can, giving a personal touch to new customers. And hey, you may even win a category.
Not only do you have the chance for product rewards & publicity, but they are also a great way to promote to both locals & traveling food-enthusiasts alike! The people you meet at these events may hold a lot of weight in your industry and partnering with those connections could be huge for your brand.
Create Unique Partnerships with Complementing Products
As we covered already, hot sauce is almost always used in conjunction with other foods. Embracing this fact allows you to connect positively with business owners of related products and perhaps partner together for certain projects! Perhaps you meet a queso maker at an event and decide to cross-promote each other’s products on social media. This can be as simple as bundling a package deal or as creative as mixing ingredients for a rare seasonal item.
You can instantly double your audience and bring them to your online presence with just a few pieces of cross-channel marketing.
Social Media Influencers Can Help Promote Your Sauce
Another online partnership to consider is with social media influencers. These are people who regularly connect with engaged audiences, large and small, through social media or blogs . They’ve gained the trust of their fans, and they can pass that trust on to your brand.
Finding the right online influencers to partner with is a few searches away. It’s even possible to meet them organically through food-related events, or by using influencer platforms that allow you to search their catalog for appropriate partnerships. The most common way to start is by using hashtag searches in various social media channels to capture highly-engaged content on the top results.
With a simple search on Instagram, we found the hashtag #hotsaucechallenge with thousands of content results. From there, you can sort through influencer accounts and spin up a friendly introduction through direct message or email (if available in their profile). Tell them your story and ask them if they would be open to a creative partnership. If secured, you’ve captured an entirely new audience. And be prepared for your social media account to grow as a result.
The cost for partnering with influencers can vary with their audience and you may even find one that is willing to accept a case of hot sauce in exchange, but it’s well worth the investment to reach a new and interested audience base.
Promote Free Samples Online and Offline
A wide-reaching free sample campaign can be the fastest way to have customers taste your product. Public places with busy streets are filled with people willing to try delicious foods. The challenge is finding a place. A huge win would be securing an in-store demo with a local grocer. Online, however, may be easier. Simple fact is, people love free samples!
Your campaign can extend further if you’re willing to ship free samples to interested parties or companies. This allows for online promotion and engagement that only costs you the price of a sample bottle.
At the end of the day, the combination of a good story, good package, and high-quality ingredients will always win.
Thank you for reading. Glassnow is a leading provider of premium, eco-friendly, glass packaging. We hope you find use in this guide for your hot sauce business. If you have any questions at all, don’t hesitate to reach out here.