“No one buys pralines because they’re hungry. It’s always a special moment for yourself or somebody else”, explains Benno Hübel, owner and CEO of Sawade in Berlin. “We are a praline maker and present seller in one.” Sawade serves people who want to spend their money on good food: from student to the royal court. The basic principle? A really, really good product. Hübel reveals his vision on and dedication to Sawade’s rethought position.
A hidden gem
Hübel: “Ever since it opened in 1880, Sawade has been a supplier to the gentlefolk of Berlin. Society may have changed in the meantime, but we still try to establish a connection to Berlin’s Golden Twenties by offering our clientele surprising, elegant and exclusively handmade products.” Today Sawade serves the type of people who have no qualms with paying for a premium product from a local manufacturer. “This has nothing to do with income. Our target audience understands that it matters where you buy your food. They simply consider paying more for good food that’s worth it. We just had a class of students here, each of whom bought two truffles. That’s the new generation, who accepts having to pay appropriate prices for superior quality.”
A big percentage of Sawade’s target audience are the 20 million tourists that visit Berlin each year. However, Sawade doesn’t want to serve every tourist. “We are not here for mass consumers. We want to be known as a secret. That is why our shops are not in any of the main streets or places. We are the ‘hidden’ gem that you will only learn about from special tour guides, in extraordinary guidebooks or by word of mouth.”
Back in the minds
When Hübel started running Sawade five years ago, the shop was going through a very difficult period. “The products had always been good, but the shop hadn’t invested in the brand at all. The question of positioning wasn’t really answered.” Hübel is convinced that a good brand needs a clear positioning. “The basic principle isn’t a topic of discussion: that is a really, really good product. But a good product is nothing without good branding. You need both to be successful.”
Hübel worked hard to reposition Sawade. “We used to be a product for older people, so we had to bring Sawade to the attention of consumers of all ages. We decided to become ‘the praline maker that sells presents’. This new position is reflected in everything we offer: our new packaging, the pleasantly rustling wrapping paper, the hospitality of the personnel and the shop design.” What Hübel always keeps in mind is that Sawade is special because of its long tradition. “We need to stick to our tradition with good products and ingredients. This is our primary focus. But that doesn’t have to stop us from making new variations based on our original recipes.”
Although health is really on topic these days, Hübel doesn’t think there is any need to focus on this. “We are not the shop for your detox days. We make pralines; and pralines are simply not a health food. Compare this to a really good butcher: he can’t sell vegan products and superior meat at the same time. I wouldn’t trust a butcher that sells vegan food. We do have some gluten-free and lactose-free pralines but it’s not what we focus on. Our pralines are ‘healthy’ because of their fine ingredients and because we renounce the use of chemical preservatives, palm oil and artificial flavours.”
Hübel describes two trends he sees: intoxing and detoxing. “The funny thing is, both can be right for the same person. A lot of people eat and drink very healthy all week, but at the same time, when they go bad, they want to have the best bad there is. And that is where Sawade comes in. We don’t sell basic needs. We focus on the ones that celebrate life.”
Inspired by the story of Sawade? You might also be interested in our article about the new transparent interior of Carrefour Hypermarkt Mons in Belgium.
Disclaimer: this concept was selected on an editorial basis. There is no commercial link in relation to this article.