Q: Mr. DeWitt,
I began making and selling my own hot sauces about 6 months ago. I am also working toward my MBA, and for my final project, I am writing a business plan for my business in the hopes of making a good grade, and more importantly, in the hopes of getting my business off the ground. I would be eternally grateful if you could answer a few questions for me:
1. What is the biggest challenge to a small hot sauce company becoming competitive?
2. What were total hot sauce sales for 2002?
3. Do you have any marketing strategies for a small company with a small marketing budget? In other words, what is the biggest bang for the buck?
4. Do you see a leveling off or decline of the hot sauce industry in the next several years? Why or why not?
5. How did you get started in the fiery foods business?
Mark & Carla Combs
Owners, Venom Hot Sauce Company
A: Hello Mark and Carla:
I’ll be happy to answer your questions.
1. The biggest challenge is finding a unique selling proposition and marketing your product based upon that. Although having a good product is important, marketing is essential for success.
2. Hot sauce sales in the U.S. in all industry segments are estimated to be about $250 million.
3. For a small budget I would say a combination of exposure in shows like our National Fiery-Foods & Barbecue Show plus strategically placed website banner ads would be best.
4.Hot sauces in particular and fiery-foods in general have been growing at the rate of about 10 percent a year. This is because they are invading Middle America and are no longer just niche, specialty foods.
5. I got started because of my media background. I had been a writer and show producer long before I discovered chiles and fiery-foods. Once I did discover them, it was only natural for me to focus on them as a specialty.
Good luck with your projects.