Stillwater, Minn. — No one knows more about George Ghanem’s sausage consumers than he does. As producer of Papa George food products, he’s gained that insider info the hard way — demo by demo, one store at a time.
Ghanem began producing ethnic sausages in 1993. Eight years later, his Papa George line has expanded to seven products: three flavors of ground pork rolls, gyros, cucumber sauce, ground lamb and salami. The line sells in Cub Foods, Lunds, Byerly’s, Kowalski’s, some County Market stores, select stores served by Super Valu, Rainbow Foods, Super Target and more. Papa George products were recently accepted by a large chain in the Chicago area. Ghanem says there is strong potential for his products to be picked up by retailers in North Dakota, South Dakota and Iowa, in addition to more outlets in Minnesota, Illinois and Wisconsin.
“You have to start by doing things directly yourself,” Ghanem advises. “As an entrepreneur, you can’t rely on someone else. You have to have done it yourself at least once.”
Ghanem estimates his one-man show has given away well over two million samples during the past seven years. Those samples represent thousands of hours logged at product demos in stores and at events. Yet the information he’s gained is one of Ghanem’s most valuable assets.
“The demo helps scope the potential,” Ghanem says. “Consumer feedback helps to make the goals realistic.”
Ghanem says he’s done so many demonstrations he can tell who will likely buy his products and who won’t. He’s been able to develop a template, essentially a consumer profile, to describe the cross section of the population that uses his product.
“You get to know the consumer better — because you have to know how people like your product.” u get to know the consumer better — because you have to know how people like your product.”