March 18, 2016 Jen Maltby

What’s Your Secret Sauce?

Source: Wegmans

Source: Wegmans

Ok, I know I have written about grocery shopping before but it just happens to be a category I have been passionate about for years. Perhaps it’s because I started my career working on grocery brands like Stop & Shop, or because I am the primary shopper in my household and have spent countless hours in grocery stores shopping for my extremely hard to satisfy family. (I mean, have you ever tried to shop for a vegetarian, someone who is Paleo and TWO kids under 9?). Either way, a recent article about the nearly unbelievable dedication consumers have for the Wegmans grocery chain caught my eye. So much so that I had to sit down and write about it.

Full disclosure: I recently added Wegmans to my shopping repertoire when it opened in my area, and I am definitely a brand fan. But that’s not why I am putting pen to paper. I am actually writing this because in the recent Adweek article the author points to a really critical element in building an unbreakable connection with your customers that I feel is often overlooked ­– the importance of your employees.

In my role as a brand strategist, I spend a great deal of time getting to know my client’s consumers, category and competition when I am working with them to craft the right story for their brand. And don’t get me wrong, identifying your brand position and creating outward-facing marketing to bring it to life are important pieces of the puzzle. But, your story will never wholly connect with the end consumer if you don’t also ensure that every employee in your company is clear on and dedicated to your brand message.

So I return to Wegmans. What this grocery chain learned early on in their history is that their “workers are actually their secret sauce.” So, not only were their employees a key element in building their brand, but the Wegmans aproned, passionate employees are forever critical in delivering on the brand story in-store. In fact, Wegmans so deeply believes in the importance of their employees in building their brand that they actually spend several months (you read that right, MONTHS) ensuring they are properly training employees and inspiring them to deliver a genuine experience to the customer.

In closing, I would challenge any brand who is thinking about how they tell their story to really understand your own employee “secret sauce” first. If you can identify where you want to go as a brand AND create a plan for getting your employees to live and promote that company message, then you are setting yourself up for the kind of #Wegmaniac success that Wegmans has.

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