It was a modest enough beginning. It began with a dilemma. David Tran, an ethnic Chinese immigrant from Vietnam, couldn’t find hot sauce to accompany his Pho noodles. He came to America aboard the Huy Fong and settled into Los Angeles’ China Town. Not to be discouraged, he began making his own sauce and delivering it door to door to Asian restaurants in 1980. The rest is history.
Sriracha hot sauce has now sold over 10 million bottles, and according to its documentary, Sriracha (by Griffin Hammond) has required an increase in production of almost 20% every year to keep up with the demand for the sauce.
It’s been featured in at least 7 different songs (you can see the playlist from the documentary here), shown on the television show “Survivor” and is the feature of numerous cook books and pairings with products from almonds to chocolate bars to potato chips. So you would think that their advertising and marketing budget is huge.
You would be wrong. The company spends no money on advertising or marketing. Their growth is fueled by consumer loyalty and devotion. So what lessons can we learn from this hot & spicy case study?
- Know your customer. Their needs and wants. David Tran was his own customer demographic. He created a sauce that he would buy. He also saw a need and a niche for product development which brings us to:
- Understand your market. Huy Fong foods serves Asian style hot sauce. They fill a need that David found with respect to complimenting a certain type of food, his noodles.
- Respect your brand. Their brand is simple (a rooster, which represents David Tran’s birth year) and consistent (white lettering with a green lid against their chili red background) and has been throughout their company growth. Their recipe is largely the same as when David began producing the first batches of his sauce. Huy Foods hasn’t been re-branded or modified.
- Listen to your clients. Although Huy Foods still are in the business of producing hot sauce, they now make it in several varieties and in different sizes (currently sizes are 17 oz. and 28 oz., but they are now adding a 9 oz. and gallon size bottle) based on consumer feedback. This has allowed them to grow and expand but still keep their focus.
- Understand that it may take time to build a following, a successful brand and exponential growth. It may seem like overnight Sriracha is everywhere, but the company has actually taken 30 years to mature to this level of production.
Do you agree? Disagree? Sound off below and thanks for reading.