Pretzel Baron redefines speed to market

by Dan Malovany
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Gary Gottenbusch takes a retail baker’s philosophy when it comes to developing new products for a wholesale market. In fact, new concepts are often developed and test marketed at the family’s 14 retail bakeries. Feedback is almost instantaneous.

“We call it ‘fail fast — fail cheap,’ but don’t stop trying,” said Mr. Gottenbusch, president of Pretzel Baron’s wholesale division and the family’s retail business, Servatii Pastry Shop and Deli. “We can have an idea for a new product on Monday; have our skilled bakers work up a demo and recipes on Tuesday; then do some ‘seat of the pants’ financials; and sample the product with the management team with the product originator on Wednesday.”

On Thursday, the company checks ingredient and packaging needs, then develops promotional posters and a brief sell sheet for its sales associates. On Friday, the product is baked off, and on Saturday morning, the retail bakeries are sampling it.

“Most important, our store managers are collecting feedback from our customers,” Mr. Gottenbusch said. “By the following Monday, we are ready to review the results from the weekend on our new product.”

Innovation is best when returns on success are greater than the costs of failure.
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