October 26, 2009
rudy’s “sause”: social object case study
Rudy’s BBQ, my favorite restaurant chain in Texas, serves REALLY good “Sause”, which they also sell by the bottle.
Being the total “Social Object” geek, I’ll say it again– It’s not the sauce in the bottle which makes the Rudy’s “Sause” brand interesting– it’s the social interaction that happens around it that’s interesting.
It’s fun to go to Rudy’s with your friends to talk and eat. It’s fun to buy some ribs at the supermarket, get the smoker in the back yard fired up, douse the meat with Rudy’s Sause, fill up the cooler with beer, crank up the Willie Nelson and invite some friends over.
And yes, if Rudy’s sucked, if Rudy’s BBQ sauce sucked, it would be less fun. And so we wouldn’t buy it; we’d go with something else. It’s the friends and fun we’re actually paying for– the human interaction– not the red stuff in the bottle.
Too many brand managers ask the question, “What message do I have to craft in order to get people to buy my product?” It’s a dead end. A far more useful and profitable question would be, “What can I do to make my customers’ lives more interesting and meaningful?”
And “Meaningful” always has a social dynamic. We find meaning via our relationships with our fellow creatures. “People matter. Objects don’t.”
A bottle of barbecue sauce isn’t going to instantly change anyone’s life for the better. But that 4-hour-long conversation with an old friend, sharing a plate of ribs and brisket, with some Shiner Bock… Well, that might. So you want your product to be there when it happens; you want your product to be around during your customers’ significant moments.
Rudy’s understands this. How about you?
P.S. If that latter “Interesting & Meaningful” question sounds like a hard one to answer, that’s because it is. There’s a reason why the companies who manage to pull it off on a fairly consistent basis –Apple, Nike etc– are worth tens of billions.
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