By Emmanuel Laroche, VP of Marketing and Consumer Insights
Millennials value authenticity and experience, leading them towards artisan and craft products. The trend that started in the beer category is today spreading across other beverage segments and beyond. Symrise NA engaged with Millennials across the U.S. to better understand the meaning of “craft”. We discovered that it was a multi-dimensional concept answering personal and social needs.
Craft is about first-time experiences, discovering something new - the beauty of a discovery, the uniqueness, and the newness of it. More than the thrill and excitement caused by a new discovery, experiencing a craft product and sharing it with other member of a tribe is a “rite of passage”. And as any rite of passage it has a series of symbols of maturity.
If we look at the rites of passage definition, they are ceremonies marking important transitional periods in a person's life. Rites of passage usually involve ritual activities and teachings designed to strip individuals of their original roles and prepare them for new roles.
To uncover the symbols of maturity linked to the rites of passages around craft, the Symrise team participated in a "Craft Trek" in Brooklyn, NY stopping at food and noon food locations. We used “lateral thinking” to translate what was happening in each location on the trek into learnings. We combined our observations/learnings on the trek with our learnings from millennials to build actionable insights about how to create craft food and beverage products.
We observed that boutique businesses do not care to appeal to the masses. They are doing enough to please current number of customers and still stay true to their passion and principles.
Symbols of Maturity #1: The Rustic, Vintage & Handcrafted Décor and Design
We noticed the trek locations are using space in different and non conventional ways. The décor contained wood, metal, green nature and simple textures. The use of old artifacts created a homey atmosphere: focusing on blending in, being local, having a “home like“ personality. It also reflected a “farm to table” feeling. From the busy streets of Brooklyn, we noticed that a lot of the storefronts were unique, with most locations using a rustic and repurposed warehouse building and their interior materials for their stores.
Symbols of Maturity #2: Signs of Knowledge are Visible All Around
All the craftsmen we encountered gave the same message. Developing an expertise by understanding the fundamentals through academic learning and life experiences. And then applying the learnings through each individual own personal expression. There were signs of knowledge everywhere: books on the shelves, matcha tea ceremony room, coffee extraction process literature and pieces of equipment.
Symbols of Maturity #3: Niche/Boutique
Away from mass appeal, craft is about niche, intimate connections, seasonal fingerprints and scarcity of product and ingredients. Across the trek stops, craft showed up in niche offerings through small batches, experimentation possibilities and innovation that gives an exclusive feeling to specific consumer tribes.
Here is a list of all the locations around the "Symbols of Maturity" platform:
25 North 6th ST. Brooklyn, NY
Toby's Estate Coffee is a small batch roaster. As roasters and baristas, they believe that each coffee can tell a story. They strive to share that in every cup. They believe in sourcing incredible single origin coffee from farmers, roasting each coffee individually to highlight its unique sweetness.
Toby’s Estate has four educators. Their role is to provide information and share expertise with staff. The fundamentals of the knowledge may be the same but the expression of the educator is conveyed to the customer according to their own personality. Toby’s Estate was a good example of many elements coming together. The atmosphere was full of natural, simple and raw elements. The staff was knowledgeable about coffee, transparent about their processes, and highlighted the origins and quality and premium aspects of their coffees.
NY Martial Arts Academy
184 North 8th St. Brooklyn, NY
Stopping at a martial art center might seems irrelevant. It becomes pertinent when thinking of rites of passage and symbols of maturity. Treks are great opportunity for lateral thinking. NY Martial Arts Academy has been the premier training center for Bruce Lee's Jeet Kune Do in the tri-state area since 1985 with programs available for men, women and children. This organization consisted of Bruce Lee’s wife, daughter, first generation and second generation of students.
The Jeet Kune Do instructor shared that training always involves “understanding the why” at each step involved. All students learn the same fundamentals but ultimately are not expected to perform the same as everyone else. Self expression is expected.
93 Wythe Ave. Brooklyn, NY
MatchaBar’s mission is to bring matcha to people - whether by the cup at their cafes, by the bottle online, or at local markets and grocery stores. They are a family-owned business run by two brothers. There was a purpose in their décor to create certain ambiance & energy in their space. You can take Tea Ceremony classes, learning how to serve and enjoy Matcha properly in a ceremonial way, which is certainly different from grabbing Matcha latte at a café!
The Whiskey Brooklyn
44 Berry St. Brooklyn, NY
The Whiskey Brooklyn opened in August 2010. In a forgotten time, it was an old tonic water factory on the north side of Williamsburg. Their philosophy is simple: well-poured drinks, reasonable prices, good music in a comfortable setting. Everything you see in the bar — the booths, the bar top, the DJ booth, the shuffleboard tables, the back bar — was built by hand.
121 Wythe Ave. Brooklyn, NY
HEATONIST’s mission is to bring together the best examples from today's hot sauce makers, creating a curated selection that represents what can be accomplished across the spectrum of heat and flavors. The HEATONIST experience is about discovering new hot sauces in an innovative retail tasting experience, with a focus on quality ingredients and quality processes.
To ensure they only sell the best and most interesting/unique products, the team tastes each sauce before selecting which ones land on their shelves. For every 50 sauces they taste, only 1 makes it. They carefully select their products. Demonstrating the knowledge and expertise of each element, ingredient, process, story, etc., are critical for an craft feel. Craft is about limited availability and things that you do not see everywhere.
W Hotel Concierge Representative
We had a great opportunity to connect with a concierge representative from the W Hotel. He shared with us that boutique hotels are obviously considered the craft of the hotel industry. Craftsmen focus on a more narrow demographic. It is about developing intimate connections and personal attention. Craft is making the guest have a unique experience emphasizing on art and handmade. This creates a distinct fingerprint because people come for many different reasons.
We have heard on our trek that craft consists of quality, experiences, and unique ingredients. It is not about product consistency and cookie cutter mass experiences. We've also seen that a unique language (such as Starbucks Grande Latte) is intentionally used to create a different feel as normal is each place we have been to.