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Sriracha’s popularity has boomed in recent years, going from a cult hit with college kids to a staple in almostacross the country. It’s part of a larger trend across the hot sauce industry, which jumped from $229 million in sales in 2000 to $608 million in 2014, according to data.
But far from being a result of aggressive marketing, the massive jump in the more than 30-year-old brand’s popularity was organic: According to a company representative, Huy Fong Foods, the company behind the spicy chili sauce, had never marketed or advertised before.
“It wasn’t until a few years ago that we did actually notice our followers and the loyalty they built around our brand,” says company representative Sabrina Martinez, who said absolutely no marketing contributed to this invisibility—at least until branded merchandise—not made by the company—began popping up.
“We now embrace our fans because of the fact that they’ve embraced us without having to try or put ourselves out there—our success as all been word of mouth,” adds Martinez. “So, for that, we thank our loyal fans that have gotten us this far.”
The first thank-you was opening up the Irwindale, California, factory to daily tours and setting up a gift shop to sell rooster-emblazoned T-shirts and food. But for those who couldn’t make it in who still wanted to purchase merchandise, an alternative was needed.
Huy Fong Food eventually opened The Rooster Room Online Store, an online store for fans a little more than a year ago. All merchandise—from snacks (Sriracha croutons, anyone?) to T-shirts and Sriracha Halloween costumes—is sold at cost both online and in the brick-and-mortar. “It was only right to open up online for our guests that weren’t able to make it out to our factory so they too have the opportunity to enjoy the merchandise through our online shop,” says Martinez.
The online store has done even more to grow the brand: “The Rooster Room Online Store gives our amazing fans a platform to flaunt their favorite brand of hot sauce,” says Martinez, who points out that most customers weren’t aware that Sriracha wasn’t its own company but rather one company in Huy Fong Food’s portfolio (it’s also not the only sriracha sauce out there). “The results have lead into branding awareness, which gets people talking about our product, leading them to even visit us for a free tour to learn even more about our company.”
The online store uses WooCommerce for the website and Mastercard’s Simplify Commerce to power payments from around the world. They made the decision to move from their original e-commerce vendor to Simplify after a few issues came up with the original payment site. The IT team found out that Simplify made things easier by simply eliminating those issues from the start.
“Getting Simplify Commerce set up to power The Rooster Room Online Store couldn’t have been easier: The company basically had to just make an account online with Simplify,” says Martinez. “Training the team was a breeze and integrating the API key was the easiest part to integrate onto our site.”
In the end, it also appeared more streamlined on the site, needed no redirection and—best of all—was free.
Martinez recommends Simplify Commerce to “any business looking for an easy setup and integration process along with a lower percentage transaction charge”—whether they’re an established (and beloved) brand or a startup looking to build out a framework for their first online transactions.
“We feel Simplify will benefit any companies looking for a reliable e-commerce facilitator,” says Martinez.