Callisons Seasoned Skewers-Garlic Herb are available in packages of 10 sticks for $7.99. One immediate drawback is, once the package is opened there is no inherent way to reclose it. If all the sticks are not used immediately, they may roll all over the storage drawer or need to be repacked.
The label has the logo and the flavor variety called out with a specific background color. The speed of flavoring is called out in a "15-minute flavor" burst at the bottom of the package. The package also suggests all the foods, not just meats, that could be flavored with this product: "chicken, shrimp, halibut, zucchini, mushroom, tiny red potatoes"; elsewhere it also mentions fruit, shrimp and turkey. The "100 percent natural" claim can't hurt.
The stick/skewer form makes it easy to figure out how to use this marinade. The instructions tell you to skewer your food, let it sit for 10-15 minutes and then cook as normal. The food (in this case we tried pounded strips of chicken) is lightly flavored from the inside out. While most BBQ meat has a crispy (caramelized sugar) coating, this meat has a delicate mix of garlic and herbs. It tasted great.
Flavor, freshness and size of piece are the attributes normally used to judge seasoning quality. Seasoned Skewers do not fit these comparisons. The flavoring process is not understood until the skewer is used and the food is tasted. This is one you have to experience to get it.
This product surprises. The flavor is in the center of the food and radiates out. The meat actually becomes infused with the seasoning, transforming its flavor.
Does the product deliver?
Callisons is not a universally known manufacturer of flavors or seasonings like McCormick, which has 50 percent of the market. So brand familiarity is not there.
The product is convenient. It allows consumers to create new food ideas simply by choice of what flavor stick to insert into your familiar meat. This idea imparts gourmet, ease of use and fun at the same time. The product fits American and guy behaviors and lifestyles and is unique in its ability to season from the inside out.
With the interesting variety of flavor options, even inexperienced cooks can give guests such seemingly complex tastes as Thai coconut line and Indian mango curry - with no special effort on the cook's part.
How to make the idea bigger
Innovation always requires product developers to consider how the product fits current behavior or enhances behavior. A new product should not require too much change in behavior too quickly. While Seasoned Skewers' flavoring process is novel, it's easily understandable. And while skewers are not in daily use in the kitchen, they're not unfamiliar.
Actually, the kitchen is one place to which this product is not being marketed. In past discussions, company officials told Food Processing editors these skewers could just as readily be used in the oven or broiler. But no such suggestion is on the packaging, which could limit sales to summertime months only.
After addressing traditional flavoring needs, what other benefits can be delivered by this stick? Can moisture be added, ensuring a flavorful and moist meat? How about adding healthy ingredients or meeting other dietary needs? The options are diverse and large. The packaging could be upgraded to have a closure for smaller families who will not use all the skewers - although repacking into one's own zip bag is not difficult.
Rating: Callisons' Seasoned Skewers does deliver in enhancing consumer behaviors both in cooking and simplicity. The biggest issue is what flavor blends and where to store this.
Market Potential: Good fit to behavior, good for the category. Great innovation example of looking at what everyone else looks at, looking at it differently and finding a way to create a new flavor delivery system.
Hollis Ashman is chief strategist and Jacqueline Beckley is president of the Understanding & Insight Group, a strategy, business and product development firm that connects with consumers using qualitative and quantitative approaches. For more information, see www.theuandigroup.com.