Product benefits and colorful food imagery are key ingredients to selling high-end “outdoor kitchens”
Grills have come a long way since the tiny, round burners of old. In fact, today’s large, high-tech grills are known as “outdoor kitchens,” and buyers are spending huge sums to provide their guests with the best cookout experience possible.
According to Jeff Ryan, a senior copywriter at Via and a 19-year veteran of L.L. Bean, today’s grill merchants need to point out benefits like stainless-steel construction, burner capacity and easy cleaning. To appeal to the modern grill market, Ryan says copywriters also should mention grill size; how many people can cook on the grill at once; the number of auxiliary burners; durability; and if the unit has an adjustable flame for cooking different kinds of foods at different temperatures.
All of these features may seem excessive to barbecue purists, but outdoor cooking has become a well-crafted artform. This is evidenced by catalogs like Frontgate, Williams-Sonoma and Preferred Living from Sporty’s—all of which included high-end grills in recent catalog editions. In addition to its regular summer catalog, Frontgate also mailed the Ultimate Grill 2001, a catalog devoted entirely to outdoor kitchens.
Following is a look at how these catalogers marketed high-end grills during this past summer.
Frontgate Summer 2001
Their headline: Frontgate brings the Viking gourmet kitchen outdoors
Their spin: Gourmet cooking is not just an indoor activity.
Price range: $2,995 to $5,295
A full-page spread touts the professionalism of the Viking gourmet grill. The copy includes dimensions on grilling surface and side shelves. The lead reads: “Outdoor cooking isn’t just about grilling any more.” Ryan says the second line is a buried lead that delivers a stronger benefit: “Viking Professional Grills ... allow you to prepare your secret barbecue sauce or saute mushrooms without leaving the grill (or your guests).” The spread offers the strongest copywriting in this product category, says Ryan. The copy also names stainless steel and mobility as benefits. But Frontgate’s choice to separate the lead copy from body copy could be confusing. And the lead copy (placed on the top left side of the spread) is centered, making reading difficult.