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Interesting piece in Forbes the other day about Graeter’s Ice Cream, which the piece notes, has been making ice cream essentially the same way for 140 years, and in the process becoming an institution in the Cincinnati area, where its products are made and primarily sold.

The story continues: “Soon, ice cream lovers nationwide will know what Cinncinnatians already do:  Graeter’s is about to increase production fivefold and gain national distribution.  By the end of the year, Graeter’s will be sold in almost four thousand retail outlets, of which 2,000 will Krogers-owned stores.”

The company is hoping that it will avoid the pitfalls of such expansion by observing three basic rules:

• “Their new factory has been designed to create efficiencies before and after the making of the ice cream – but the archaic ice cream making process itself will remain unchanged.”

• “There is no marketing advantage like a product advantage.” CEO Richard Graeter says, “Our success is based in the fact that no one else is crazy enough to make ice cream as laboriously as we make it. And even if they wanted to, their production is not set up to do it.”

• “Details can be defining ... Graeter’s chocolate chips are as delectably old-fashioned as the ice cream itself.” In a world where frozen blueberry waffles often don;t have real blueberries in them, that can be an enormous advantage.

In addition, Graeter’s seems intent on letting the product speak for itself, and let its fans do the selling; it has no intention of developing a marketing/communications apparatus on the scale of those run by other super-premium brands.
KC's View:
You can count me among those who love Graeter’s, and I wish them luck with this endeavor.

The general rule should be this. Look at everything Krispy Kreme tried to do when it expanded a few years ago, and then do the opposite.