Home / Leadership / Industrial specialty products are customer focused

Industrial specialty products are customer focused

A great distributor knows; customers define the specialty products he will purvey. It’s what makes an industrial product a “specialty” in the first place. He knows an anti-flutter could be an unusual specialty to one customer yet an essential stock to another. What’s important, it’s your business—you define the specialties. A great distributor understands that your needs are unique—it’s a customer focus.

Specialty products: what flavor will you have?

Dunkin’ Donuts has a mobile app. The company also enjoyed $9.3 billion in sales in 2013*. What I thought was a donut shop now supports nearly 11,000 restaurants in 33 countries. What’s more, they consider themselves “a leader in coffee that just happens to dispense donuts.” Say what! In fact the advertising you’ve probably heard actually pushes their coffee—not their donuts—as the fuel “America runs on ….” This is expert and, obviously, successful positioning against the 500-pound-coffee-gorrilla in town. Dunkin’s specialty strategy describes a niche of consumers with “busy lifestyles”—perhaps those too busy to waste time sipping a venti while lounging at Starbucks. This all comes as a bit of a surprise for me. Where have I been?

If you go to Dunkin’s website (yes, of course they have a website) you have to maneuver around the “Coffee Specialties” to get a whiff of the first donut.

Curiously, if you go into a store or check the latest press release, you’ll see most of their energy is placed in devising protein food products. Angus steak and cheese wraps, Angus Big N’ Toasted, stuffed breadsticks, lunch sandwiches including chicken, turkey, ham, toasted cheese and of course the Dunkin’ roast beef pretzel roll is a smash hit. What’s more, the plan is to further distance themselves from a specialty donut or coffee house, “Dunkin’ plans to continue to focus on new products as opposed to value, with new products the key to driving traffic to the stores.”

What’s clever about Dunkin’s strategy is how it leverages a once famously narrow donut specialty to sell volumes of coffee and disparate fast-food. It is driven by a customer who knows what they want. The same strategy hasn’t worked so well for the likes of say Steak n Shake where the “specialty” is a staple-food and not a pastry/dessert. You can always get your meal at Dunkin’ and at the same time justify the convenient option to satisfy a donut craving … anytime you want.

The point to all this is that customers (you), or a market (your customer) actually defines “specialty” products. For example, if the demand for antimicrobial additives surges and trends, it may no longer be viewed as a “specialty item.”

Starbucks is the world’s largest, but the specialty coffee maven will soon feel a bump from a new fringe group (of coffee nuts—the story is in the current issue of Fast Company) who are launching a massive battle to create a “third-wave coffee” specialty, and a piece of the $30 billion U.S. coffee market. It will be a $7 cup of “highly nuanced” joe. How special.

If it’s that special, why isn’t everybody using it?

Specialty products seem like the elusive ones—like the donuts at dunkin dot com. They can be hard to find and difficult to get.

Maintenance products can be specialized. Sometimes we don’t even remember what they are, where we keep them, or where we sourced them last. One thing’s for certain though, when you need ‘em, you need ‘em.

If you depend on a certain dip spin coating almost every day, you probably don’t think of it as a specialty. That is unless nobody else in town is doing it in which case it may allow you to charge a premium for the specialty service.

There are various other reasons why some industrial products are anointed “specialty.”

Some create value-added. Others are used so rarely or for such mundane uses they fall into cost of doing business. Still others are extremely rare and may never create a market.

The boys at HIT Solutions believe YOU are the specialty. You do the work your customers choose to hire. The work you do and the needs you have are relative and distinct to your business. Your product appeals to a smaller audience and for very specific reasons—that’s enough to warrant a premium specialty product. What’s for sure is you can depend upon HIT to support high-quality products and back those with superior service and support—because not everybody’s using it.

Check out the current variety of innovative specialty products from adhesives and sealants to paint booth products, production aids and lubricants. Or create one yourself.

HIT Solutions believes the more your business keeps up with important trends, the more you will improve your product, and improve your bottom line.

Leave me your comments below; share your thoughts.

*Franchise reported sales, Dunkin’ Brands Group