Case Study 3: Penzeys Spices

“Love People. Cook Them Tasty Food.”

What does that tagline mean to you?

For most people it makes them think about their families- they picture a family meal. Now tell me what brand uses that line?


In 1957, Ruth and Bill Penzey, Sr., started a small coffee and spice business in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. However, soon the family narrowed their business to focus solely on herbs and spices, calling it the Spice House.

Then, in 1986, their 22-year-old son, Bill Penzey, Jr., took over the business. He started by adding a mail-order aspect to the company as Penzeys Spice House, Ltd, and also quickly publishing his own spice catalog. As time went on, Penzey began to travel to places such as Bali and Turkey for four months of each year to establish contacts with new suppliers and inspect the quality of spices coming in from existing suppliers. While he was overseas, he liked to photograph spices growing in the fields for use in the company’s sales catalog. Then, in the late 1980s, the business took off. Everyone was obsessed with cooking! In 1987 and 1990, Penzey moved the business to larger and larger buildings. Throughout the 1990s, the mail-order business grew steadily, mostly by word of mouth. And in 1994, the company branched out, opening the first Penzeys Spices store in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Today, with stores in 18 states and a headquarters in Brookfield, Wisconsin, Penzeys Spices, Inc. grinds, blends, packs, and ships spices to customers nationwide. The company imports cooking ingredients that are available as dried leaves or whole seeds, coarsely ground or finely powdered, from growers around the world.

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Penzeys has truly established itself as a great brand for anyone who loves to cook. This is one successful business. However, one area where the spice store lacks is social media. At the present time the company does not utilize any social media channels. There is no Facebook fan page, no Twitter account, no Pinterest page, etc. I believe, however, that this is a brand that could greatly benefit from integrating social media into decisions made by the business.


A great launching pad for the Penzeys Spices social media presence would be Facebook. First, Facebook is one of the most recognized and widely used social network services available. Second, the site enables a brand to post engaging content in the form of videos, photos, links, and more. Third and finally, Facebook would allow Penzeys to create a voice like the brand has been unable to do before.

I believe that Penzeys Spices could create a real community around their products. The brand is already decently sized- with stores in over 18 states. People love the brand- social media is a great opportunity for Penzeys.

Some Examples of Possible Posts:

  1. Products- This type of post could discuss both new or old products. It could explain a fun fact about how the spice is grown or created, talk about a new spice that Penzeys is selling, etc.
  2. Recipes- This post would feature recipes that use spices that Penzeys sells.
  3. Suggestions- A suggestion post would be similar to a recipe one- it would suggest simple ways to use spices, just to add something to common meals.

Some Tactics for Engagement:

  1. Requests- This sort of post would seek direct feedback from consumers. People would be asked to provide feedback on Penzeys Spices? (Ex. What new spice would you like to see in our stores?)
  2. Share- Asking consumers to share their favorite family recipes that feature Penzeys Spices would be a great way for customers to engage with the brand (Far out idea- maybe even having Penzeys pick a “Fan Recipe of the Month”).

Overall, Penzeys is brand that is ready for a Facebook page. By creating a fan page this is one brand that could be on its way to becoming a social business.

Social Business Potential

Penzeys is already a well-known brand. It is a brand that is about cooking for those who you love- “Love People. Cook Them Tasty Food.”As I said previously, by creating a Facebook page, this brand could start to become a social business. This wouldn’t be an easy task- it would require listening to what the consumers are already saying online, figuring out what sorts of content these people want to see/hear, ultimately creating a community for fans to engage with each other as well as the brand, and finally listening all over again- listening to what people have to say to Penzeys and using that the improve the business.I, for one, would love to see Penzeys on social media- I could see this brand having a lot of fun on any site from Facebook to Pinterest. What do you think?

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