by: Geoff Ficke

An Old Mustard Brand Teaches the Power of Marketing Exclusivity

The practice of Brand Exclusivity is one that consumers associate with Luxury Goods categories such as Cosmetics, Perfumery, Jewelry, Fashion or Automobiles. The Marketing Strategy utilized to keep product distribution limited, pricing levels maintained and supply levels tightly controlled is synonymous with Brands such as Estee Lauder Cosmetics and Fragrances, Bentley Automobiles, Gilbert Albert Jewelry and Balenciaga Haute Couture. The cost and rarity of these products contributes mightily to their desirability.

My Product Development and Branding Consulting firm works with new clients to develop customized strategies for consumer product launches. More and more we are utilizing campaigns that employ key elements of Exclusivity. This strategy works, even for seemingly mundane products. Here is a famous example that has been applied to an item found in every household pantry: mustard.

Most consumers would consider mustard to be a basic condiment. Sure, there are various styles, textures and colors of mustards. Most, however, would not think to apply an Exclusivity Strategy to Marketing a relatively common Food product such as Mustard.

In 1747 Antoine Maille opened a store in Paris, France to sell his personally blended Mustard. The taste of Maille Mustard was so unique, the shop so successful that the store became a mainstay for French gourmands. In 1845 a second store was opened in Dijon. This is not exactly rapid expansion, but the limited production and availability of Maille Mustard products served to increase the Brand’s desirability for consumers.

Maille Mustards are only available in original recipes from the two French eponymous stores. Owing to the potency of flavor, these Mustards are never over 10 days old when sold and must be consumed within 3 months for maximum taste. The original three styles of Maille Mustard, Chablis, Grape Juice and Honey, are still sold in the shops. Free tasting is encouraged. Batches of fresh pretzels are provided to make the sampling a most enjoyable experience. After the consumer selects their preferred style the Mustard is scooped and taken to packaging. The purchased quantity is placed inside special Maille crockery jars, corked for closure and wrapped in tissue.

A milder, mass produced version of Maille Mustard is sold in the United States. Though slightly different from the original in taste, this style regularly wins taste competitions when placed against other mustards.

The Company seeks to keep Maille Mustard unique, exclusive and highly desirable. This strict Marketing Discipline has enabled the firm to prosper. In keeping with modern technology and Brand Support the Company maintains a beautiful web-site, however, they have never allowed translation to any language beside French.

This is an elegantly simple example of a 250 year old business that has taken a condiment and built a great Brand and interesting History by executing a classic Exclusivity Strategy. The two French shops are now tourist destinations. The small batch production is unique in an impersonal world of mass production. The customized assembly of the fill and packaging of the mustard in full view of consumers only adds to the products mystique.

This strategy, employing Marketing Exclusivity, customized production and personalized attention to detail can be utilized by many artesian producers on a wide variety of products. It affords small businesses and Entrepreneurs the opportunity to compete and win against much larger competitors. This Marketing Strategy works and should be considered by more start-up businesses.

Author's Bio: 

Geoff Ficke has been a serial entrepreneur for almost 50 years. As a small boy, earning his spending money doing odd jobs in the neighborhood, he learned the value of selling himself, offering service and value for money.

After putting himself through the University of Kentucky (B.A. Broadcast Journalism, 1969) and serving in the United States Marine Corp, Mr. Ficke commenced a career in the cosmetic industry. After rising to National Sales Manager for Vidal Sassoon Hair Care at age 28, he then launched a number of ventures, including Rubigo Cosmetics, Parfums Pierre Wulff Paris, Le Bain Couture and Fashion Fragrance.

Geoff Ficke and his consulting firm, Duquesa Marketing, ( has assisted businesses large and small, domestic and international, entrepreneurs, inventors and students in new product development, capital formation, licensing, marketing, sales and business plans and successful implementation of his customized strategies. He is a Senior Fellow at the Page Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, Business School, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio.