A lesson in marketing from a common kitchen utensil

Zulay kitchen bench scraper

I’ve recently become captivated by the process of baking my own bread. My kitchen is well-equipped, but not necessarily for making bread. After watching a few instructional bread baking videos on YouTube, I realized that I was missing a very basic but important tool for handling bread dough – a bench scraper.

The bench scraper is a flat, wide, stainless steel blade with a handle on one of the wider sides. In the world of kitchen utensils, it’s a commodity. There’s really nothing special about it. There isn’t a whole lot of differentiation. Therefore, I expected price would be the primary factor in my purchase selection.

Off I ventured onto Amazon in search of a ‘kitchen bench scraper.’ Of course, I was inundated with dozens and dozens of results. And as you would expect for a commodity item, the prices were pretty similar. They were almost all grouped around $10, plus-or-minus a couple of bucks. So how to pick one?

My usual method is to focus on a must have feature or two, verify the reviews, and make sure the price is competitive. For my bench scraper, the key feature was a stainless steel blade with etched measurement marks. Fortunately, this narrowed the results to a manageable list, from which I chose one from Zulay Kitchen.

What drew me to the item was a comment in one of the product reviews. The reviewer not only praised the product but also talked about the Zulay Kitchen back story that is printed on the box. It was a captivating story. Captivating enough that it convinced me to purchase it.

I was pleasantly surprised when I received the product. There’s nothing inherently special about it. It’s your basic, stainless steel bench scraper. What impressed me was the effort put into the packaging. Zulay could have sent the scraper in a plain cardboard box. Instead, they made the effort to design a box that tells their story, that builds their brand.

Here’s the story as printed on the box:

Zulay Kitchen is named after my extraordinary mother, Zulay. She was raised in poverty-stricken Venezuela and, against all odds, brought my brother and I to live in the US. As a single mother, she worked extra-long hours but still found time to cook healthy meals for us. At the time, I thought nothing of it. But now that I’m married with children of my own, I see how much of a super-hero mom she really was.

My wife and I created Zulay Kitchen to make shopping easier then ever in today’s busy world. We believe that cooking should be fast and easy, so you have more time to enjoy with your loved ones.

Zulay Kitchen story on the back of their packaging

So far, I’ve only had the pleasure of using my Zulay bench scraper a couple of times, but I’m very happy with it. I can tell it’s going to play a regular part in my evolving bread baking process.

Perhaps more importantly, the purchase taught me an important lesson in marketing. Being authentic, telling your story, and backing it with a quality product is one of the best ways you can differentiate yourself and your company, even when you’re selling a commodity product such as a common kitchen utensil.

I have a sneaking suspicion that more Zulay Kitchen products may find there way into my kitchen in the not-so-distant future.