Simple Lessons from a Kitchen Classic
February 17, 2021
Le Creuset, Creator of the Iconic Dutch Oven, Offers Insights Into Developing a Cult-Like Following
For passionate home chefs, the name Le Creuset conjures the same sort of associations that BMW or Mercedes produces for car lovers: quality, history, craftsmanship, performance. However, Le Creuset doesn’t manufacture industrial-strength blenders or automatic espresso makers; since 1925, this French brand has created Dutch ovens, baking dishes, tableware, and kitchen tools, all created the old-fashioned way in a melting pot—a creuset—and covered in its signature colorful enamel.
Cookware, like every other category, is dominated by brands whose success is built on generations of loyalists. And while it’s easy to see why some brands are consumer favorites—King Arthur Baking Company’s unmatched community, KitchenAid’s colorful innovations—the reason for Le Creuset’s status is harder to put a finger on.
Here are few reasons why this heritage French brand stands apart from the competition and some lessons on how to transform a utilitarian consumer product into a cult favorite.
Master the “Master of One” Approach
Le Creuset is synonymous with Dutch ovens and ceramic bakeware, just as Pyrex is synonymous with glass bakeware. The simple reason for this is that both brands invented their signature products. And while most brands can’t claim to be the originators of their products, brands can take a lesson from these kitchen pioneers: counterintuitive as it may sound, focusing on perfecting a single product is the surest path to growth and success.
Too often, home goods brands use a “jack of all trades, master of none” approach to their product assortment. This is especially true of brands sold in big-box retailers, where both the breadth of products offered and the enticement of bargain pricing tend to dominate a brand’s strategic outlook. However, successful home goods brands first master a single product, use that product to gain trust and credibility with consumers, and then leverage that trust and credibility to slowly expand out into other product categories.
Successful home goods brands first master a single product, use that product to gain trust and credibility with consumers, and then leverage that trust and credibility to slowly expand out into other product categories.
Le Creuset is a perfect example of the “master of one” approach. For decades, Le Creuset’s iconic Dutch oven—technically, it’s a French oven, a subset of Dutch ovens—has been the favorite choice of some of the most famous chefs, including Julia Child, who often used the original volcanic orange Le Creuset oven as she introduced French cooking to an American audience. Once the brand had established that authority and the Le Creuset name became synonymous with traditional French cooking, it could then easily and successfully branch out into other product categories, including everything from tart dishes to mixing bowls to enamel-covered trivets.
Stand Behind Your Products
There’s another thing most cult brands have in common: unrivaled customer service and warranty protection, which often results in unrivaled customer satisfaction. This level of customer satisfaction allows brands to succeed at higher price points because customers are more willing to part with their money if they know they’re getting a product they can use for years or, in some cases, for life. So, even though $30 for a single pair of socks seems a little high, hikers all over the country love the Vermont sock maker Darn Tough because they offer a complete, unconditional warranty.
Consumers are also drawn to products that exude confidence in their quality and don’t resort to crazy patterns or colors to draw the eye.
Le Creuset’s product warranty is also generous—Cooking Light called it the “the best warranty policy we’ve ever seen”—and it sends a message to consumers: the brand stands behind its products so much that they are willing to essentially bet money that consumers will be satisfied. Yes, a Le Creuset Dutch oven will set you back around $400, but fans of the brand are willing to pay that price because they view it as an investment. And if your Dutch oven somehow breaks in the normal course of use, at any point in the life of the product, the brand will ship you a new one, free of change.
Generous product warranties might seem a little risky, but successful brands like Le Creuset know that the risk is often rewarded by lifelong brand loyalty.
The Beauty of Simplicity
The design of a Le Creuset Dutch oven has been knocked off and replicated by so many brands for a reason: Its simple, rustic lines ooze authenticity. As Nate Collier, Le Creuset’s director of marketing and communications, says, “You think of it as a simple piece of cookware, but even the silhouette of our Dutch oven is recognizable. You could show someone a line drawing without any color, and most people that are familiar with cookware would be able to tell you that it’s specifically a Le Creuset Dutch oven.”
Brands whose products have a recognizable silhouette, color palette, or texture are more likely to stand the test of time. There’s a reason Lodge cast-iron skillets and KitchenAid mixers have been staples in kitchens for generations: consumers find comfort in the familiarity of their simple design.
Consumers are also drawn to products that exude confidence in their quality and don’t resort to crazy patterns or colors to draw the eye. The brute, utilitarian bulk of YETI coolers is an example of this sort of assured simplicity. While there are many imitators of the brand’s signature hard coolers, consumers know how to separate the pretenders from the real thing, and the real thing, more often than not, inspires devotion that no imitator can match.
BMDG’s Relationship with Pyrex, Another Cult Classic
For years, Britton Marketing & Design Group has helped Pyrex retain its status as an American icon. From in-store signage to email marketing to packaging to concepting videos for the Martha Bakes cooking show on PBS, we have put our heart and soul into making sure that the next generation of home cooks loves this classic brand as much as we do.
At the heart of what makes brands like Pyrex and Le Creuset special is something so simple: family, and a love of traditions that are passed down from one generation to the next. Brands that embrace these New American Middle values are guaranteed to earn loyalty for generations to come.