I just queued for 15 minutes and paid £11 for two scones.
On autopilot and about to swipe my card when my brain registered the price.
“Is that right? £11 for two scones to take away?” The waitress nodded her head. “I know. I’m sorry. It’s the cost of the ingredients. Everything’s gone up.”
I’m in a multi-award-winning free-from tearoom in an old fishing lodge. Set in a hamlet with lakes, a caravan park, a working farm and walking trails — mostly locals and a few tourists.
I looked around, and the place was packed — families, kids, dogs under tables, people on laptops. Not one table left outside on the terrace.
Going niche is big business. They’ve gone an inch wide and a mile deep — offering over 50 gluten-free cakes and bakes. Crazy combinations to surprise and delight the customer.
I’m sure it wasn’t this expensive last time I came, but here we are. The cost-of-living crisis — one year on.
Not seeing much evidence of that here, mind. The woman before me didn’t bat an eyelid at £23 for a small order. The folks behind me talked about the best places to eat and where to get good quality cake.
People will pay for something niche and different. We associate higher prices with quality.
We may have cut back on non-essential spending, but we’re not willing to compromise on other things — life’s simple pleasures. Our daily rituals and routines.
Time out, good food, company and conversation. A nice place to work.
I paid a premium to not be treated as an afterthought. I stopped eating gluten a few years ago for health reasons, and it’s a pain. Often not much choice on the menu — usually chocolate cake and boring biscuits.
Here I can have anything on the menu — and something different whenever I go.
As they say, the riches are in the niches.
They are celebrating their 10th anniversary and clearly doing something right. Younger staff, shorter hours, a simpler menu, local deliveries, an online shop, and gift vouchers.
With a vision that people can get behind. Simple food created with love.
She handed them over. Big, fat, juicy scones, wrapped in paper bags with little pots of jam and rolled butter.
They tasted great and didn’t crumble and fall apart, so she’s got the magic recipe right. All that trial and error has paid off.
Got me thinking about niche media and what I can take away from this for my business.
Shorter hours, a simpler menu, pricing, a 5* experience, printed content, maybe.
Little things to surprise and delight. An inspiring view on the road. A thank you note to new clients. A cuppa and a chat.
There is no problem a cake and a cuppa can’t fix.
Something so simple and universal is very powerful.
Things to Read, Listen, and Watch
Jacob Donnelly on the concept of nimble power, at FIPP World Media Congress 2023. “My belief is that going forward, the only way to succeed in media is through niches.” Morning Brew’s ethos: “Business doesn’t have to be boring.” Full report here — worth a read.
6 steps to kicking ass as a freelancer with Eman Ismail — brilliant advice on being intentional with your pricing, niching, life-work balance, and creating a 5* experience. Really enjoyed this one.
Eve Arnold wrote a piece on how to never run out of things to write about. She’s just published her 900th article on Medium (updating its Partner Program incentives btw). Spotted this in Chenell Basilio’s fab NL.
PS, I’m watching ‘Deep Fake Love’ on Netflix. So bad it’s good!? Slightly alarmed that this is being classed as entertainment. But then it’s raising awareness, I guess.
When did life get so complicated? Bring back Cilla Black and her sympathetic shoulder pads. The wordplay, the innocence, the rituals, the flirting!
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