When Dana Knowles and Alicia Vañó opened their first Taste of America supermarket 20 years ago, many of their friends and first customers wondered “what sort of products might they sell?”.
“When we opened our first store on Paseo de la Castellana, 60sq meters full of imported products, we had no idea what we were getting into.”
From day 1, the store was visited by clients searching for things they had tried in the USA or expats nostalgic for home. Experience has always been at the core of Taste of America, and today they shared their journey from a small shop on Serrano to the international distribution chain that they have become.
The very premise of Taste of America is built on client suggestions. Dana and Alicia literally grew their product lines by asking friends and clients for their shopping list of American products. This open dialog with their fans and customers has been central to the brand, treating each shop as an ambassador of an authentic American experience.
“The relationship we’ve been trying to build with our consumer has been important and fundamental from day 1. Our aim is that people come to our stores not just to shop, but rather to be entertained” – (Dana Knowles)
“We want people to feel welcome in our shops, as they would when entering a shop in the states. And if you don’t, tell me!” – (Alicia Vañó)
When it comes to customer feedback, these founding partners don’t just give lip service; they take their commitment to their customers very seriously and depend on the suggestion box for ways to improve the experience they offer.
“In the 20 years we’ve been in business, we’ve seen a big change in the awareness and the demand for American products. At one point we were concerned about the implications of American policies and politics for our consumers, and after 9/11 we found that our public and the Spanish Public, separated the people from the politics. We immediately felt an outpour of love and support.
Now we have to find new ways to maintain that relationship. But it is fundamental to our growth. We depend upon our customers to show us the way, to tell us what’s important to them—it’s our way of understanding the entire market. At the end of the day, if we respect our customer and make them feel like they are being taken seriously and that they are part of our everyday thinking, they will help us grow,” explains Dana.
This active listening has allowed Taste of America to grow into a gastronomic trend-setter. They were the first to introduce Gluten-Free products in Spain, and have been championing a healthier vision of American products and cooking since. Dana and Alicia are constantly looking for new ways to interact with their customer and are continuously producing new events based on products and recipies, including cooking workshops and children’s activities. At today’s TcDesayunos, they recreated this same two-way dialog with the Tecerians, on how to translate this offline know-how to the digital world. The result? A balance of American ingredients and Tecerian expertise.