COMMITMENT CALLED KEY TO MOVING SPECIALTY ITEMS

CHICAGO -- Understanding their specialty product mix and standing behind their choices are key factors for retailers who are trying to win over the specialty consumer.Ann Brody, principal of Ann Brody Enterprises, Bethesda, Md., discussed these points with workshop attendees at the recent National Association for the Specialty Food Trade Spring Fancy Food Show held here.Brody emphasized the importance

CHICAGO -- Understanding their specialty product mix and standing behind their choices are key factors for retailers who are trying to win over the specialty consumer.

Ann Brody, principal of Ann Brody Enterprises, Bethesda, Md., discussed these points with workshop attendees at the recent National Association for the Specialty Food Trade Spring Fancy Food Show held here.

Brody emphasized the importance of forging an identity for the store with the selection of products, noting that the specialty shopper is there for the total experience, not simply to stock up.

"Every product reflects on you as a retailer," said Brody. "How does it support your mission?"

She maintains that the product mix needs to communicate commitment and discriminating taste to the consumer.

"You have to understand why you bought it," she said. "It can't be just a visceral reaction. You can't train your staff unless you understand the points that turned you onto it."

While specialty foods stores have a greater opportunity to create an image based on unique products, the key to success in the gourmet arena is much the same for conventional retailers.

"The people that are successful are the people that make a commitment.

"Specialty foods are not something you can do halfway. There needs to be at least one person on the staff dedicated to finding the products and training the staff," she said.