McCormick Introduces Spice Grinders

McCormick and Co. supports cooking use of spices while also moving them to the table.

By Hollis Ashman and Jacqueline Beckley, Consumer Understanding Editors

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Key ideas that can impact the category are convenience, flavor, healthfulness and quality.

Convenience: Consumption of prepared foods - whether from food manufacturers, grocery store delis, restaurants, or fast-food outlets - is on the rise. Yet, providing some sense of individuality or participation is a great asset. Taking that one step further, the manufacturer needs to move spices from the kitchen to the tabletop, similar to what condiment manufacturers have done.

Flavors: It is expected that as the U.S. population becomes more ethnically diverse, there will be more flavor experimentation. The issue is how to leverage this without creating too many SKUs. What is clear is that we search out familiar flavors as the norm, and then will experiment with more diverse flavors. Blends combine this familiarity with diversity, while also providing the appearance of knowing how to cook without actually being an expert.

Healthfulness: Seasonings, spices and herbs can deliver both flavor and a healthy halo. Consumers who are trying to cut back on fat or salt intake know that seasonings can enhance these healthier diets. Some seasonings have nutraceutical benefits associated with them (garlic, onion, clove, etc).

Quality: Spices can add flavor without adding calories. But quality, storage and selection of herbs and spices take a level of understanding that most consumers do not have today. This is a potential education opportunity that can move the category away from commodity, but would require education by the industry and understanding by the consumer, who may not put the time and effort into this.

The experience

McCormick Italian Herb Grinder is available in a clear plastic grinder package for $2.49-2.79 for 0.77oz. The package fits the normal size of the spice drawer and also looks good on the tabletop. The label has the McCormick logo on a red ribbon with the flavor variety called out in a specific color and Grinder under that in white. The tamper evident overwrap has "Built in Grinder" on it, along with images of how to use it. It is familiar as the form that McCormick uses for their higher end seasonings, spices, and herbs.

Flavor, freshness and size of piece are critical to the perception of quality. This product surprises. The package is beautiful, with lots of different herbs and seasonings visible inside. The particle size is large; the pieces of onions, tomatoes, rosemary, garlic, two types of pepper, sea salt and parsley are large and multi-hued, giving the feeling of quality that this might be served in a white tablecloth restaurant. Pop off the top and you can smell the aroma.

Grind it and you get smaller particles of flavor... which blend together to create a familiar Italian aroma and flavor. The flavor has a perception of freshness since it has just been freshly ground and blended. The package is tabletop-friendly, so most consumers were left with a quandary: Where to store this? With their spices or on the tabletop?

Using it in cooking provided a seasoning level that was good. Scratch cooks still wanted their regular herbs and seasoning. They felt they had better control and thought that this form might cost them a lot more. Younger/less experienced cooks found this grinder gave them a sense of being more competent in their cooking and made their somewhat processed meals taste better and maybe even fresher.

The grinder worked really well on the tabletop. Frozen pizza was easily customizable by both the light seasoning eater and those who wanted more intensity. This product allowed the individual control over how much they got and that was a good thing. And the delivery of the seasoning mixture on the food looked good.

Does the product deliver?

McCormick is the manufacturer of spices, herbs, extracts, proprietary seasoning blends, sauces, and marinades with a brand that has focused on taste you trust. The Italian Herb Grinder is both convenient and leads consumers to consider a new space. They can use the grinder while cooking or while consuming at the table any food that is in front of them. It delivers the flavor, the perception of quality, the perception of uniqueness. The flavors are premium and fresh.

In an era of not knowing or trusting what you get, this product lets you see what you get and transform it into your own real seasoning mixture.

How to make the idea bigger: This package fits cooking and tabletop use well, but how do I use this product when I am eating on the run, snacking or purchasing my food from takeout? There may be an opportunity for a smaller package for individual use.

Rating: McCormick Italian Herb Grinder does deliver in enhancing consumer behaviors both in cooking and on the table top. The biggest issue for a consumer will be the selection of what flavor blends and where to store this when dual usage is happening.

Market potential: Good fit to behavior, good for the category. Great execution on elements of premiumness and authenticity.

About the Authors

Hollis Ashman ( is chief strategist and Jacqueline Beckley ( is president of the Understanding and Insight Group, a strategy, business and product development firm. See

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