Creating serious seduction for dairy: Manolo Blahniks’ Arethusa Farm & Dairy
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Creating serious seduction for dairy: Manolo Blahniks’ Arethusa Farm & Dairy

June 2, 2015

Courtney Rothstein

How did Manolo Blahnik’s owners take the core elements from the DNA of a luxury brand and create a successful dairy brand that is unquestionably more craveable than Carrie Bradshaw’s favorite shoes? Perhaps Arethusa Farm & Dairy, set in the rolling hills of Litchfield, Connecticut, doesn’t ring a bell yet, but I promise you it will. Very, very soon.

How did Manolo Blahnik’s owners take the core elements from the DNA of a luxury brand and create a successful dairy brand that is unquestionably more craveable than Carrie Bradshaw’s favorite shoes?

Perhaps Arethusa Farm & Dairy, set in the rolling hills of Litchfield, Connecticut, doesn’t ring a bell yet, but I promise you it will.  Very, very soon.

Just one taste of their rich, creamy, all-natural, old-fashioned hand-packed ice cream flavors will leave you obsessively thinking about the next time you can indulge with Arethusa again. With vat pasteurized chocolate milk, local syrup or hand-crafted cheese with names like “Crybaby” and “Bella Bantum,” you’ll know that you have found your soulmate.

What principles did Arethusa Farm & Dairy follow, whether intuitively or intentionally, that would get Manhattanites who have Eataly, Dean & Deluca and Zabars within reach to drive five hours roundtrip in a Zipcar to the Arethusa Creamery for a quart of whole milk???

Here you go:

 

1. A Heroic, Authentic Brand Story.

Arethusa Farm & Dairy has an exceptional history.  It is associated with exceptional people, who have exceptional cows that live on an exceptional farm. Let’s take the Manolo name away for a moment, and the story behind Arethusa Farm & Dairy still feels wonderful. Two men saved a local horse farm from developers, bought back the original farm’s name (Arethusa) for about $25, and started a cow-breeding operation that even the locals boast has the most gorgeous, well taken care of cows they have ever seen.  They not only get top-quality hay and individual tailored mixtures of grains, but their tails are washed daily with a good ole bucket of soapy water.  The owners even know the names and history of nearly all their cows.  Now add the Manolo name back into the equation and you have a touch of selective celebrity in the mix, adding to Arethusa’s enhanced desirability.

 

2. A Truly Unique Product Story.

Arethusa’s product quality is as good as it gets. Its production techniques are quite rare and the search for knowledge about how the products are made builds some of Arethusa’s “cool” factor.

There’s no boastful language on Arethusa’s labels.  The ice cream scoopers don’t lecture you about the quality of the ingredients.  True to Arethusa’s slogan, “milk like it used to taste,” you only need one sip, spoonful or lick to know that what you are eating is different from anything you have ever had before.   When you dig a little, you can learn on their website and through a 2011 New York Times article about Arethusa’s rare process for preserving the flavors and textures of their dairy products, even though it sacrifices the shelf life.  Not only do they get points for doing things differently, they also make milk production sound somewhat elegant and beautiful, which is a new image compared to my typical one of milking cows with electric pumps.

 

3. An Elevated Retail Experience

When you walk in to Cartier, Gucci, Prada and so on, those spaces feel different degrees of a wonderfully, theatrical experience.  When you combine their “set-like” atmosphere with indulgent customer service, it is luxury retail at its best.

The Arethusa Creamery also has an elevated retail experience.  It sits in a renovated 1920s firehouse with benches and landscaping that turn back the clock.  Once inside, you see pristine silver vats where the milk is made through a tremendous glass wall.  You are tended to by associates dressed in white aprons and hats who wait on you as if you are the only one in the shop, and you feel beyond special in their company.  They give you samples of cheese and more cheese.  When they tell you the waffle cone, made right in front of you, filled with four, maybe even five scoops, comes to $4.50, there is nothing but a sea of smiles.

Arethusa Farm & Dairy is in a unique position to continue to make its mark in this field. It has shown the packaged goods world that borrowing from luxury cues with a mythical brand story, all while staying true to a clear identity and a clear emotional outcome, creates exceptional desire.  Get ready for Arethusa to seduce you.  Perhaps you’ll follow my little known secret that you can now find a few of Arethusa’s products in Eataly, Dean & Deluca and Whole Foods in New York.  Ready to go?

Courtney Rothstein

Partner, Brand Strategy

As Partner of Brand Strategy, Courtney leverages her background from commercial photography and illustration publishing and strategic consulting to ensure brands unlock their distinct value through...

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