A highlight of my recent trip to Paris was stumbling across an amazing shop selling a stunning array of traditional kitchen ware. It looked like a museum piece; jammed full of every conceivable item from copper pots to pastry cutters. The stock levels were immense, the pricing system idiosyncratic, the staff plentiful and the trade brisk. But I found myself wondering how successful the business was.
Granted, the shop was aimed at the serious chef and restaurateur, yet they tolerated our presence good-naturedly despite the fact that we were obviously tourists. Have they just cleverly found their niche in a city that puts so much emphasis on good food and eating? Or are they simply living in the past?
On my return home I googled ‘Restaurant suppliers in Paris’ and up popped: E.Dehillerin Le specialiste du materiel de cuisine; I recognised the shop in an instant. OK, so their website could be better and the on-line ordering is a little basic, but somehow the business has survived from 1820 – 2012. Not bad going.
I wonder if E. Dehillerin have a social media strategy or are planning on launching an app any day soon? Probably not. Yet they do seem to have an enviable reputation amongst their target market and I found plenty of enthusiastic blog posts about them. They have clearly found their niche and are obviously supplying the right product range and service to keep generations of restauranteurs returning.
Call me old-fashioned, but I’m happy to see that applying the basic foundations of marketing – knowing your customer, supplying the right product and providing good customer service – can still sustain a business in our high-tech world. Yes of course marketing methods have changed over the years, and will continue to do so at a rapid pace, yet the fundamental principles are still relevant.