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  • Writer's pictureRandy DeMuesy

Everything old can be new again.

In this dog-eat-dog world, a family sausage business making it well into the 3rd generation takes hard work and adherence.

But picking up speed through the 4th through a bold initiative? That takes some nuts.

Consider this recent case study for Dietz & Watson. Or, more appropriately, this coming-out-of-the-deli-case study.

Known for their delicious premium meats and artisan cheeses featuring the time-honored recipes of great grandpa Gottlieb, this Philly-based family business was expanding into bagged charcuterie, snacks and condiments.

Including a small sack of nuts. Specifically—as only they could offer—meat nuts.

Next thing you know, they’ve got a well received and remembered commercial on the Super Bowl and a pop-up store featuring meat and cheese-inspired apparel.

The effort of this 80-year old company’s new product push was lead by the ideas of it’s 33 year old vice president of brand strategy.

Which leads to a couple of worthy thoughts …

Honor your parents. Up to a point.

Next generation family members who simply join the business to make their parents happy, tend to fall prey to any and all encouragement to overly emulate their parents.

That can lead to a slippery slope. Because it takes solid self esteem to lead any company successfully into the future, especially a family owned one. Fresh ideas and fearless initiative generates self-esteem, and vice versa.

And as the successor, you need to be ready for a future that was different from the one your parents, or grandparents, or great-grandparents faced.

That was a challenge Gottlieb’s great granddaughter, Lauren—charged with brand strategy and marketing—recognized:

“The spotlight is moving from a traditional mom going to the grocery store to get lunchmeat to pack in sandwiches, to younger consumers who have more choices of what to buy and where to buy it.”

Honor your brand. Above all.

For an older company that had done little national marketing and had little social presence, the marketing tactics taken could be considered a little outrageous. But each was thoroughly explained to the family business’s leaders and were backed up by market research.

And, importantly, resonating strongly through the intrigue and attraction of a pop-up store and somewhat cheeky commercial starring Craig Robinson, the meat of the message was still that: the meat. Of the very finest quality and taste. Only as Gottlieb would have it.

This fresh foray into a more creative marketing approach did not betray their family values. Nor their brand. Only buffed them up and thrust them into the current customers’ frame of reference in a fresh, unexpected—and ultimately—welcome way.

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