By Marianna Biancardi, Senior Marketing & Consumer Insight Specialist

Millennials value authenticity and experience, leading them toward artisan and craft goods. Symrise NA engaged with Millennials to better understand the meaning of “craft.” We discovered that it was a multi-dimensional concept answering personal and social needs, and among this, how important it is to these consumers that they know everything from the quality of ingredients, to packaging, to partnerships and people to truly craft a unique experience.

The Symrise team also participated in a “Craft Trek” in Brooklyn, NY to see how how each element of craft is being expressed in real life. 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.

CLICK HERE to learn how to position your brand in the Craft/Artisanal Space

For the “Carefully Chosen” portion of Craft, we trekked to Mast Chocolate and met with the general manager. We also went to Urban Glass, dedicated to furthering the use of glass as a creative medium; Blue Bottle Coffee, a café dedicated to time honored traditions; Brooklyn Charm, a unique interactive jewelry store and Keg and Lantern Brewing Company, on premise beer brewing bar. Check out our learnings below as well as other factors that support and come with being this selective:

1. A Sense of Pride and Accomplishment

Every entrepreneur takes pride in their business, from the beginning to the end, and that pride in the product is what the consumer will embrace. We found showing this pride is what resonates with consumers interested in shopping smaller. There is pride that comes from being an underdog as a small producer, but there is also pride felt by consumers who shop at these underdog companies. If they see employees or owners show pride in their products, they will feel pride in shopping there. At Mast Brothers, “carefully chosen” also applies to employees along with the owners. To them, “core ingredients are the heart of craft.” They get the best cocoa beans they can and select/roast on-site to create the freshest product possible. What’s so interesting is they are always exploring and experimenting in order to continue to improve toward a more perfect product. You can only imagine that this takes a lot of trial and error which makes it more appealing to the end consumer.

The pride in the art at Urban Glass, which is handmade on premises by artists, not machines and not “made in China,” is made apparent by the high level of craftsmanship and the variety of sizes, colors, styles, and types of pieces on display. By choosing to allow contrasts between pieces, consumers see the uniqueness and one-of-a-kind quality in each piece of art making it that much more special.

2. Making Strong and Unique Connections

Making and keeping close relationships with the right people, vendors, manufacturers, etc. is the key to building a strong community through partnerships. For example, establishing good relationships with farmers ensures access to the best crops which leads to the best products. It can also lead to resources that can help the local and global community with neighbors helping neighbors be more sustainable by recycling and repurposing any parts of the product to avoid waste and connect with the local businesses who can benefit from someone else’s waste. We learned Mast Brothers’ cocoa husks are repurposed for making beer, whiskey, manure, compost while Keg & Lantern Brewing Company hopes to soon give their leftover, natural brewing byproducts to local farms to use as feed.

The connection between the product and the consumer begins behind the scenes but continues beyond production. Creating an experience around a product makes for warmer, deeper connections with customers creating a strong sense of pride. Millennials want to feel welcomed into a space and share in the story and process, all of which builds trust between the customer and the brand and makes the experience fun, unique and memorable. At Keg & Lantern Brewing Company, our knowledgeable tour guide, the smiling employees and a coffee table book of their history and recipes invite consumers in and help them become intimate with the establishment. Knowing the story makes them eager to try more, buy more and ultimately become brand evangelists.

CLICK HERE to learn how Positive Obsession fuels the creation of Craft foods

3. Craftsmanship at its Finest

A handcrafted product deserves as much beauty outside as there is inside. A clean, neutral, and organized storefront is not only inviting to these consumers but allows the product to shine and stand out against a backdrop that rightfully stays in the background. At Urban Glass and Mast Chocolate, the well-organized products speak for themselves with very detailed description on post cards describing the artists’ backgrounds and the work of selected artists within a retail environment that has an airiness to it and reflects a sense of handcraft. By choosing to forgo extra stimuli, the craftsmanship is put front and center without distraction.

This is also important to keep in mind when choosing packaging for any craft product. It should be true to what’s inside, yet exemplify the attitude of “couture craft” as well. This could mean going fashion-forward with bold, trendy patterns and colors or choosing to go minimal with a sparse, hand-wrapped look. Millennials respond to both, as long as they sense that the packaging is genuine to the brand itself and isn’t trying to be something it’s not just to appeal to them as a consumer.

4. It Comes with Passion

Oftentimes, when it comes to craft companies, a business started out as one person’s hobby that turned into an overwhelming passion that only grows with time, experience and experimentation. Those who start a craft endeavor have the entrepreneurial spirit that allows them to take an idea and turn it into an enterprise. They’re continuously trying to improve their product, which can become an all-consuming but rewarding labor of love for everyone involved, from owner to employee. 

“Quality of beans is important … As baristas, our job is to respect all the steps and work that goes into the bean before it gets to us,” said employees of Blue Bottle Coffee, who not only need to learn the ins and outs of the carefully chosen beans themselves, but the process and equipment that will do those beans justice in drawing out the richest, boldest and most unique flavors. This involves Oji-style iced coffee drippers, a custom Slayer espresso machine modeled after a 1973 Citroën SM, and “perhaps the longest and most theatrical drip bar on the eastern seaboard,” all carefully chosen for the benefit of the flavor, texture, fragrance and more that a French press just won’t deliver.

Yet still, with this passion for constant evolution and finding the next best thing to help improve a craft product, the most important thing to a craft business is to stay true to their roots by carefully choosing to scrutinize, display and take pride in everything they do in order to deliver an exceptional product and experience that will, of course, make the consumer choose them.

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