30 years of specialty food marketing teaches you that food people are a breed apart. The passion for great food, delight at a clever new idea, and the compulsion to share our discoveries with others are the hallmarks of a group unlike any other.
So for my fellow hopeless addicts, here’s great news: two really smart services that are taking fresh specialty food marketing from regional to national in the click of a mouse.
Up to now, Amazon has been a boon to packaged specialty foods, helping loyal users keep the faith and letting marketers survive and sometimes thrive in today’s world of the constant threat of delisting. They take a deep cut, but don’t gripe about the potential reach. Catalogs help bridge the distribution gap provided you’re precious enough (for Williams-Sonoma), or down-home enough,(for Vermont Country Store (a place so old-fashioned they use the word pantry)), for their particular niche.
But the real excitement now are aggregator sites that let you order fresh specialties from restaurants that haven’t yet made the move to packaged goods. The top two? FoodyDirect and Goldbely, and here’s what’s so smart about them : they understand the urge all foodies explore and share their favorites. Babka from Zabars? Authentic North Carolina barbecue from Kings? Until now, you could go website by website and hunt them all down one by one.
But both FoodyDirect and Goldbely let you browse the whole country, discovering everything from soup to nutcake – and placing orders at several restaurants all at once. Crab balls from The Narrows in Maryland? A many-layered Smith Island Cake? Suddenly my dinner party became a chance to share regional favorites with far away friends. The aggregator site centralizes search and ordering, stands behind the delivery, and gives consumers one place to keep track of what’s coming when.
Here’s why we’re keeping an eye on them:
- They give local favorites a big audience to keep them in business.
- They give restaurants a way to test the packaged product waters. Tomorrow’s next big frozen entrée? You’d better believe it’s going to come out of these aggregators.