On Saturday, Jessi
and I rented a Zipcar
and drove out to ...some suburb the name of which escapes me. The reason we did this was to sit through a 90 minute presentation on cookware. Well, actually the presentation wasn't our real motivation for going there. The real motivation was what we were given for going to the presentation: an all-inclusive 3-day vacation to the Bahamas.
Apparently at some point Jessi got us entered into a contest. The winners got, if they attended this presentation, a choice of two vacation packages. One is a 3-day all-inclusive (that is, food, drinks, and activities at the resort) vacation (not counting airfare) at one of a number of Wyndham
resorts in Mexico, the Bahamas, or ...somewhere else. The other was a 3-day stay at resorts in a variety of other places including the continental US (like Atlantic City and Niagara Falls) not including food and drinks and the like. Obviously we choose the all-inclusive deal. So at some time in the next year or so, we'll be spending three days lounging on the beach on Grand Bahama. I can't wait.
The cookware they were showing us was by Royal Prestige
. They make two lines of surgical stainless cookware which actually seems pretty nice. The guy (salesman) giving the presentation explained all about how their cookware is 7 or 9 (depending on which line you buy) ply whereas the stuff you see in stores is 1.5 to 3. Also, the exterior is all surgical stainless steel which is sterile and non-porous which makes it very easy to clean and safe to cook in. This much of the presentation I was all for. Stainless cookware has a lot of advantages over other sorts, and I already liked it. The rest was a bit iffy in my book. Royal Prestige calls their lines of cookware 'Health Systems'. The long and short of it is that their cookware makes it very easy to cook a healthy meal with minimal effort and no added greases or oils.
The concept really is pretty cool, and you can read about it on their web page, but from what we could tell, their product is pretty much targeted at people who couldn't really be bothered to cook their own dinner. It's designed to make simple dishes easily and quickly, and, while it could obviously be used for any recipe, the benefits of their 'health system' can't really be reaped with normal recipes. It seemed like the idea was basically to get people who would otherwise just go to McDonalds to cook dinner instead. In as much as they're successful in that goal, I'm behind them all the way. But Jessi and I are both decently accomplished cooks, and cook pretty healthy meals 5-6 days a week as it is, so we ended up not going buying the 'health system'.
I did, however, find their approach to sales to be rather interesting. First, they basically lure in a small group of people with the promise of a free vacation (which they deliver on). Then they explain (ad nauseum
) the benefits of their products over the leading competitors, really driving home the health point (which is a good one, I think). Then they offer you massive discounts on their products (basically you can completely furnish your kitchen with cookware and tableware for less than $2000) as well as giving anyone you refer to them within a certain time period 40% off. I assume their plan is to get you to buy no matter what (and 50% of the people there did, so it's obviously successful). They probably have very low margins or maybe even take a loss on what they sell to the small group at the presentation. But by giving people you refer a discount, they're encouraging you to tell your friends about the product. The product also has a pretty catchy (and, I'll admit, useful) gimmick, so even if you don't tell your friends, they'll notice when you're cooking using Royal Prestige cookware and probably ask about it. Essentially, it's old-school viral marketing: they're trying to build a buzz about their product and drive sales mostly through word of mouth. It's hardly a new idea, it's basically the same idea behind tupperware parties and similar things. But it's interesting to see how what's pretty much the hot new thing in marketing, really isn't. Sure it's been updated and changed to fit the new medium of the internet, but the basic idea has been around for decades or more. It's amazing the things you can learn from a cookware salesman...