June 21, 2024

Brand Highlight

Is the Summer’s Hottest BBQ Sauce Japanese? Exploring the Rise of Accessible Ethnic Food

The hottest new BBQ condiment to drop this summer is not what you'd expect!

The Japanese-inspired sauce company Bachan’s (@trybachans ) just dropped a sweet honey barbecue sauce for summer grilling. Initial reviews, including my own, have been overwhelmingly positive. Bachan’s is set to shake up summer BBQs with new explosive flavors.

The sauce blends traditional Japanese flavors such as soy and garlic with organic honey to elevate the grilling experience. It combines the best of Japanese and American culinary traditions in one bottle, promising perfect caramelization and a delightful umami punch.

So What? Why is Japanese BBQ Sauce a Big Deal?

Bachan’s success reflects a key CPG food trend: the growing number of ethnic foods, sauces, and seasonings at grocery stores and DTC retail sites. CPG foods are packing bolder flavors and offering more sophisticated regional specialties. This growth in the ethnic foods category is driven by technological and manufacturing advances, changing consumer preferences, and a broader global interest in diverse culinary cultures. Consumers are becoming more adventurous with their food choices and are increasingly seeking out new and unique flavors and experiences. 

Community Commerce is the Core

The expansion of ethnic food offerings is connected to the affinity of different communities of consumers for such offerings. Such communities adopt products and promote them both internally to community members and externally to others. 

This process exemplifies one of Mighty Joy’s core theses: The audience members of influencers and creators  have their own audiences, with whom they share their own content. These layers of community are key for the growth of new CPG products, especially food. Below are examples of three communities involved with this change:

Immigrants and Descendants of Immigrants

An obvious first community is ethnic communities. Members of ethnic groups in the USA may already have a taste for the flavors of dishes from their ancestral home countries and regions. They may have been raised on special local cuisine. CPG brands can make complex classic dishes easier to prepare, shifting them from a labor of love to a quick weeknight dinner. Importantly, brands often market themselves as symbols of ethnic communities. For example, OMSOM (@omsom) is a brand that sells pre-made Asian marinades and noodle kits. OMSOM was founded to “bring proud, loud Asian flavors to your fingertips any day of the week. No more diluted dishes, no more cultural compromise. Real-deal Asian cuisine and communities are too damn delicious to deny.” Further, founders Vanessa and Kim Pham say, “OMSOM is our fiery love letter to our people (that’s you!), our food, and our ‘Phamily’ (both ancestors and chosen).”

Health and Wellness Community

Many ethnic foods are perceived as being healthier and cleaner as compared to traditional American fare. As consumers become more health-conscious and seek out nutritious options, ethnic foods seem like smart choices to boost overall health and wellness. Furthermore, making healthy food, which can be perceived as bland, taste good, is essential for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Sauces and seasonings from around the world can add flavor that elevate items such as  chicken breast and broccoli. A great brand to highlight that’s marketed to the wellness community is Blue Zones Kitchen (@bluezoneskitchen), which sells frozen veggie and grain bowls with flavors and ingredients modeled after blue zones around the world such as Okinawa, Sardinia, and Costa Rica.

Global Foodies

Increased travel and globalization have exposed consumers to a variety of flavors and cuisines from around the world. As people travel and experience different dishes and seasonings they develop a taste for ethnic foods that they may not have been exposed to before. This has impacted tastes, as more consumers are adventurous with their food choices and are increasingly seeking out new and unique flavors and experiences. Furthermore, global foodies are focused on regional dishes. For example, rather than going for Italian food or Mexican food, today’s global foods might search for Puglian food such as focaccia Barese or Oaxacan food like mole. Foodies are also likely to purchase new items linked to regional specialities, especially dishes that remind them of travel or make preparing complex dishes simple. My favorite mole comes from the legendary LA Oaxacan Restaurant Guelaguetza. If you want to try the mole, visit Guelaguetza’s online store and the mole will ship to your door

Why Does This Matter?

The rise of ethnic foods matters because it signifies a broader cultural shift towards inclusivity and diversity in the daily culinary choices of American consumers. It reflects how globalization and multiculturalism are shaping our food landscapes, making exotic flavors more accessible and mainstream Community commerce is at its core of different products adoption and implementation into daily life.

Successful Community Commerce

Bachan’s markets by successfully connecting with its many communities of fans. For example, Bachans posts recipes by its team and creator partners sharing classic Japanese dishes, iconic asian american dishes and  Asian spins on American dishes all using Bachan’s. For example, popular posts have been sweet and spicy Japanese Philly cheesesteaks (8,145 likes/ 113 comments), Asian crispy fish tacos (28,000 views)  , and miso surf and turf fried rice (7,000 views)  Bachan’s also utilizes collaborations with other popular bbq brands such as Kings Hawaiian rolls (@kingshawaiian)  and (@meatchurch) to overlap audiences. Finally, Bachans adopts trends to create funny relevant content to capture an audience, like a summer cookout character video.

Try Bachan’s at your next summer BBQ!