What are the top-selling hot sauce brands…and why?


There is a difference between a popular brand of hot sauce and a bestselling brand of hot sauce, but not much. However, being a popular brand hot sauce will certainly lead to becoming a top-selling brand name sauce with great marketing techniques.

The top-selling brands of hot sauce brands are Franks Redhot, Sriracha, and Tabasco® due to the flavors they produce and their marketing efforts. To become a top-selling brand of hot sauce your sauce will need to taste good to the demographic you are marketing toward, will have to stand out as being unique, and needs to be paired with foods recommended to consumers. Promoting and marketing will become a big expense in making your hot sauce popular and easily recognizable as a great-tasting brand name hot sauce.

If you have a sauce that sells well or is recognized among certain crowds or among friends that REALLY like it, then it is time to market the brand name to become a common brand on store shelves or online retailers. I liked Sriracha before I ever tasted it and anticipated the moment I tried it like the first time I…well you get the idea.

Three types of hot sauce all have the same marketing approach

Franks RedHot, Sriracha, and Tabasco all have used food pairing as a marketing tactic to gain popularity of the hot sauce. A hot sauce will become popular and lead to a top-selling hot sauce if it tastes great, looks good, and has unique packaging, but marketing goes way beyond that. Even leaders in the market continue to put efforts towards marketing their products.

According to ibisworld.com the three hot sauce manufacturers leading the industry by sales are Tabasco® (Mcllhenny Company), Franks RedHot McCormick & Company), and Sriracha (Huy Fong Foods Inc). These hot sauces have become brand names because of the flavor they deliver, and they have been doing it for a long time.

All three of these sauces use a simple combination of ingredients aged to perfection to become a delicious-tasting hot sauce. The simplest sauces can have the biggest impact on the marketplace if measures are taken to make them popular. A big part of what makes these hot sauces successful is marketing. Although a popular brand will be marketed differently than a brand that has just entered the market.

Sriracha became popular with Asian foods

My experience with Sriracha was everything I anticipated it would be because it is truly a great hot sauce. It uses a few simple and common hot sauce ingredients, has a great bright red “hot sauce” color and comes in a unique bottle shape, and was marketed toward consumers who already love hot sauce.

Although David Tran started producing Sriracha in 1980 it did not gain mainstream popularity until 2008. Sriracha became popular because Asian restaurant workers brought the sauce in the establishments for their personal use, patrons discovered it and began requesting it. It was marketed to patrons by accident but would not have gained popularity if consumers were not demanding it.

Chicken wings have not been the same since Franks RedHot

Franks RedHot was put on store shelves in the 1920s but gained popularity because it was used in a chicken wing sauce invented in Buffalo NY in the late ’60s. Although there were marketing tactics in the form of newspaper ads, it was the popularity of the chicken wing (what I call a Buffalo wing) eaten in combination with a new sauce that skyrocketed its popularity. Although Frank’s has a million uses for its hot sauce and uses the slogan “I put this sauce on everything”, it was its use in a new pairing involving the hot and spicy chicken wing that catapulted its reputation.

Tabasco® recommends food pairing

Consumed for over 150 years, Tabasco® is one of the staple hot sauces that have stood the test of time. Its popularity is partly due to it being an “original” and there were not any sauces available like it. Now, the sauce is labeled in 22 different languages and sold in 180 countries.

Tabasco markets the product by raising awareness of its versatility by making consumers aware it can liven up different cuisines and meals, even after 150 years of proven success. The introduction of an expanded line of sauces also widens the available foods it can be paired with. This tactic works but there are other methods of marketing a hot sauce that can be equally as successful.

What makes a hot sauce popular?

Aside from a hot sauce needing to taste good to sell well, there are other marketing tactics such as advertising, social media, and influencers that spread the word. It used to be that word of mouth was what spread the information exchange for which hot sauce tasted best. NOW, the idea of spreading the word has exploded exponentially. Web site and social media have promoted brands and now specific groups or influencers have dedicated themselves to promoting hot sauces.

A hot sauce needs to taste good to sell good

For a hot sauce to gain popularity it has to taste good…but NOT everyone needs to love it or even like it. Hot sauce is consumed by a unique community that loves hot sauce but the consumers are growing. Determining whether your sauce tastes good should first be tested by YOU and then by others.

Good marketing tactics can sell anything

I have stated it before but good marketing is essential in selling a hot sauce. For brands such as Franks RedHot, Sriracha, and Tabasco the technique of demonstrating to the consumer the benefits of using the sauce with certain foods proves to be successful.

Simple ingredients  vs Complex flavors

The problem with using simple hot sauce ingredients is that you are competing with name brands that have mastered a hot sauce recipe using just a few ingredients. Trying to duplicate these sauce recipes would prove to be possible but trying to compete with them on the same level could turn out disastrous.

What are some of the other most popular brands of hot sauce?

The most popular brands of hot sauce at Walmart are Franks RedHot, Mae Plot Sweet Chili, Taco Bell, Tabasco, Great Value, Texas, Pete, Buffalo Wild Wing, and Panda Express. Of the top ten most popular hot sauces sold at Walmart, five of them use simple or traditional ingredients.

Top selling hot sauces online retailers

Top-selling brands of hot sauce sold through online retailers are not much different from sauces sold in stores. Amazon encompasses about ¼ of all online sales and doing a search of popular hot sauce sales will bring similar results as stores. The selection of hot sauces by popularity will bring similar results as online retailers. However, popular hot sauce brands may be marketed differently through smaller online retailers.

Why are less popular brands of hot sauce selling?

These brands are selling because they bring unique flavors to those who already love hot sauce. A true connoisseur of hot sauce wants to try new and adventurous flavors and not just a scorching hot sauce, although that is a huge selling point as well.

How to make a hot sauce popular

What is making certain hot sauces stand out today is using unique ingredients and complex layers of flavoring. There are two ways to make a hot sauce popular that concern the heat level. Either make it to a level of extreme heat and market it toward the thrill seekers or reduce the heat level and market it toward a larger audience.

Although the millennial generation has proven to love hot sauce, who is the next generation to indulge? There isn’t any census data on Generation Z yet and there certainly isn’t much evidence that they consume hot sauce. However, I can tell you me children are becoming increasingly interested in trying my new hot sauce creations.

Back off the heat

The demographics that have been consuming hot sauce for the last decade have proven they like it HOT! But what about upcoming generations that will inevitably by consuming hot sauce out of curiosity, because it is popular.

Novelties sell

Novelties like key chains, shirts, and hats can certainly support a hot sauce brand but it needs to have some popularity first. Marketing novelties can also create an additional source of income outside of the sales of hot sauce.

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