How Hot Do You Like It?

Tabasco Heats Things Up with Social Media

Facebook asked me to become a fan of Tabasco the other day. Of course, I responded immediately. I’ve been a Tabasco enthusiast for as long as I can remember. While I’m a proponent of a great many consumer products, only a few rank highly enough to be “fan-worthy” on the social networking site. I guess enough of my friends are devotees too. Otherwise why would Facebook have suggested it?

Tabasco is more than just a hot sauce. The brand is a powerhouse. The spicy red liquid is revered. Simon Williams recently wrote on this blog that Tabasco is one of the “Brands That Punch Above Their Weight“—authentic with a cult following.

To many, hot sauce is a badge of honor—a rite of passage. Aficionados of hot sauces, salsas and spicy foods consider themselves members of a unique and different sort of culinary club. Maybe not high cuisine, but these fiery condiments certainly are widely popular.

In addition to the typical seasonings found in most kitchen cabinets and refrigerators across the country, there are three well-known brands of hot sauce that I try to keep on hand—Frank’s Red Hot, Sriracha and Tabasco. I’ve been know to purchase Dave’s Insanity, Texas Pete, Ass Kickin’, Pain is Good and Cholula, but Tabasco is the staple–the original.

Within the category, I could spend hours reviewing packaging and design strategy (or sometimes lack thereof). Living in Cincinnati affords me the occasional trip to Jungle Jim’s International Market. At last count Jim’s stocked over 1,400 varieties of hot sauces. If you’re ever in the Queen City it’s worth the trip, but I digress…

Tabasco is an icon, a time-tested brand and line of products for five generations of the McIlhenny family and their Louisiana company. This sauce runs in their blood. Not for the faint of heart, Tabasco is included in most of the United Stated military MREs (Meals, Ready-to-Eat) and has even made it on to the menu of space shuttle program. Talk about authentic product placement!

So why wouldn’t you want to join the over 170,000 fans that are already following this hot product on Facebook? Tabasco may be more relevant today than at any point in its over 140 year history. The Facebook photo section alone is incredible. Where else are you going to see user submitted photos of babies, snowmen and cars with Tabasco bottles? And don’t forget the tattoos. No proper fan site is complete without a few shots of some ink.

Created by Bent Media, the Tabasco website is also on fire. The boutique agency from New Orleans also handles much of the interactive work for the McIlhenny Company. The site offers the devoted well over 1,000 recipes and information about many upcoming offers and events. Most definately a destination for those seeking a little oomph in their menu. The brand’s core equity—the authentic and spicy taste of Louisiana—is evident throughout all of Tabasco’s advertising and promotional materials. The brand stays true to its heritage, sticking with music, events and recipes that are appropriate for its character. This legendary pepper sauce represents much more than hot—all by sticking to its personality.

By the way, if you ever find yourself in Cincinnati, drop me a line. Maybe we can walk the aisles of Jungle Jim’s and learn a thing or two about hot sauce, as well as consumer packaged goods.

Tabasco Website

Tabasco Facebook Page

Tabasco Wikipedia

2 Comments

  1. Dave says:

    Good post – Tabasco has done a good branding job over the years and makes a solid product. Thank you for also mentioning my Insanity Sauce. It fills a different niche/need than Tabasco and I am glad that you like it.

    • editor says:

      Thank you Dave!

      It’s reassuring to hear when individuals within the industry find the posts of interest.

      I find the hot sauce category fascinating (as I’m sure you do as well). One interesting characteristic is that consumers can be loyal to more than one brand. In many ways, fans of hot sauce are collectors. Brands are positioned not only by cuisine, but by region—not only by flavor, but personality. Your products are in great positions. Insanity is perfect for those that want to test themselves (or their friends), while the line of gourmet sauces and spices are just what an amateur chef needs to take it to the next level.

      Thanks again for the comments. I hope you bookmark the site and consider joining the Linkedin group. We’d love to have you.

      Very Best,
      - Tom

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