Many people have seen the clear bottle filled with a opaque reddish-orange sauce, proudly stamped with a white rooster logo and finished with a lime-green squirt cap. According to Bloomberg, Huy Fong’s Sriracha sauce has been the most popular hot sauce in the United States for three years. Interestingly, Huy Fong’s lack of marketing campaign has been crucially responsible for Sriracha’s great success.
For 33 years, Huy Fong Foods has neither employed a single salesperson nor spent a penny on advertising. Unlike sauce rivals such as Heinz, Huy Fong doesn’t have a Twitter, Facebook, or any social media outlet promoting its product. Moreover, Huy Fong’s website is sparse; even the most avid fans of Sriracha know very little about the company behind the popular product.
However, such mysterious, unadorned, and unconventional aspects of Sriracha greatly contribute to its popularity.
Bryan Kwant, a sophomore attending Liverpool High School, attributes Sriracha’s popularity to “a mix of all word of mouth and the actual flavor of the sauce. I feel like the sauce always had a hipster feel to it– [with] cool, simple packaging, but totally authentic, great flavor, and cheap. It’s one of those sauces that your Stanford graduate friend who lives at SIlicon Valley tells his friends… about at the run down looking Vietnamese place.”
Heidi Lynne, sophomore at Fayetteville-Manlius High School, told JSR that she likes the sauce so much “because of the underdog appearance of the sauce… Do you ever see advertisements for Sriracha? Whenever I’m consuming gallons of the sauce in its awfully simplistic bottle, I feel like I’m breaking away from the modern consumer stereotype; I want to tell the world how I’m using this sauce that’s cheap, unknown, and deceivingly authentic.”
The lack of advertising cited by Kwant and Lynne actually works to Sriracha’s favor. According to the Wall Street Journal, Heinz, a popular condiments company, spent more than $42.4 million to advertise its products in 2012. The lack of media exposure starkly contrasts Huy Fong Foods with such companies as Heinz. The absence of advertisements and publicity along with its simplistic, authentic appearance greatly appeals to people who are looking for an alternative to the typical, conventional condiments.
Huy Fong’s Sriracha has been abundant in California for more than 30 years, so why is it now emerging as the most popular hot sauce in the United States? Perhaps the trend shifts of the modern consumers explain this odd phenomenon. As exemplified by the “hipster” subculture, today’s consumers are attracted to eccentric, non-mainstream, and effortless-cool features — all of which describe Huy Fong’s Sriracha sauce.