Thursday, February 10, 2011

Artisan Products: Success Lessons for Businesses

I started the week reading The Atlantic piece on the new effort from the team that made Absolute and international brand: Karlsson's Gold. A unique "traditional" vodka they can only produce in limited quantities. Mid week I stumbled upon a review of Etsy, an arts and crafts marketplace that had drifted off my radar and was reminded of some amazing offers on hand made products. Somewhere along the line I was sent a write-up of Jack White's Third Man in Nashville - a music venue that produces music for the love of it on limited edition vinyl. Lastly, I ended up in the Camden Coffee Shop yesterday afternoon, where an elderly man roasts, grinds, and sells fantastic coffees.

In all cases, these individuals are producing what amount to artisan products - small batches of manually intensive products with a small but deep market segment they are appealing to. In all cases, they seem to be finding success of some measure (I don't have figures to support that, but anecdotally it seems the case - we passed three Starbucks before reaching the Camden Coffee Shop down a side street and still had to wait to be served). 

In a world increasingly overrun by commodities, these unique products offer the chance for individual experiences. Rather than being confronted with a "yea, I have that too" people are provided the chance to try something unique - something special. While that might be true of any limited release product, artisan products apear to take it a step further - they are the best at what they set out to be. That is ultimately the point of differentiation: being the best, and doing something because it's the way it should be done (even if it costs a buck more) will in turn garner the support of consumers who appreciate quality and who are keen for that one of a kind experience.

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