Sunday, March 21, 2010
Artisan Bread. Check. Artisan Cheese. Artisan Lettuce. Ok. Excuse me, did you say Artisan LETTUCE?
Yes, now there’s even lettuce boasting how artisan it is in all its glory, unlike the bug eaten leaves in my garden, but lovingly grown by a skilled craftsperson. I can just imagine this him or her, let’s just say it’s a she, with Ferragamo flats, a Vera Wang lab coat, and glasses from Juicy Couture, meandering through rolling green central California fields, occasionally bending down, examining a picturesque leaf close up with a magnifying glass and perhaps selecting a sample or two for further analysis back in the lab.
Am I’m exaggerating here? Perhaps this seasoned, highly knowledgeable artisan is wearing a well-worn, well-loved thread bare lab coat, practical Rockport shoes, and spectacles that are a bit nerdy, much like Buddy Holly’s, but a bit more subdued. And yes, this time the artisan is a man.
And what does the notion of a product being artisan mean to a consumer? As far as that artisan lettuce is concerned, Well, those luscious leaves are certainly going to get some serious scrutiny. Will it taste better? It sure does look downright pretty, so maybe so. Ah, but will it justify the added cost? IF there is an added cost; the artisan lettuce I purchased was NOT from an upscale regional market. Nor was it from Whole Foods. Are you sitting down? Costco, $3.49! Complete with a quantity large enough to feed 50 salad-loving guests, if I choose to do so.
Mixed message, perhaps? Did I EXPECT such exceptionally fancy, quality-encrusted lettuce from Costco? Heck NO. But as a consumer, I feel that I got a great deal. If some of that fine fine artisan lettuce wilts before I can get around to eating it, well, it’s STILL a good deal. Does this raise my opinion of Costco? Absolutely!
Marketing at its finest: Artisan. Artisan. Artisan. Consumers can and will be seduced by this word. Looking forward to seeing "Artisan" brilliantly displayed on a box of cous cous or brown rice, my favorite Trader Joe’s dark chocolate (you guys listening?) and perhaps some of those wonderful soups in tetra paks that I love. And uh, if you choose the right price point and your product is truly on an artisan level, you will, indeed, raise my level of expectations. And that raises the likelihood of me coming back for more. So what’s it going to be?