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					Kitchenware rePOrt

’Net Profits
Sales sizzle online as many Web-only retailers find customers like kitchenware
By Andrea Lillo
With customers more sophisticated about what they use in the kitchen, as well as more comfortable with shopping on the Web, it’s a good time to sell kitchenware online. Overall, online retailing is rising dramatically every year. Last year, Forrester Research and Shop.org reported that 2006 online sales for home furnishings, its fifth-largest category, were expected to reach $10.2 billion, up from $8.1 billion in 2005 (actual 2006 numbers have not been released as of yet). amazon.com updates the most popular items in each cooking.com’s home page features its sales, closeouts, category every hour, including cookware. Though Williams-Sonoma offers, links to categories and new items, and more. and Sur La Table are leading kitchenware retailers online and off, a number largest kitchenware category with more than with about 6,500 SKUs, and approximately of Web-only retailers have also found success 15,300 products available, followed by more 240,000 unique monthly visitors. with the category. Besides offering a broad as- than 8,750 for cutlery and 4,600 for baking Customers now “want to have a quick and sortment of product—which is key online— tools. Cookware sets numbered 1,000. easy shopping experience,” Shah said, and A­mazon’s Kitchen & Housewares’ home two-thirds of its customers search by keyWeb sites also incorporate features to entice the customer to come back again and again, page lists the featured categories, such as word. “We are surprised by how educated which could include informational guides, vid- Cookware & Baking and Cook’s Tools & Gad- the customer has become and how willing eos, podcasts and even restaurant reviews. gets, along with the top sellers of selected cat- they are to spend whatever necessary to pur“We want to offer the broadest possible egories. The customer can also easily narrow chase top-end product,” he said, adding that selection for customers,” said Chris Nielsen, her search by category, brand, the percent of the average order size at Cooking.com is $85, vice president of home and garden for discount and price. while at KitchenEtc.com it is $88. Most cusA­mazon.com, which sells kitchenware in its Right now, “we are seeing more cast-iron tomers have an idea of what they are lookKitchen & Housewares section. “Because we cookware—additional manufacturers are ing for, he said, so they also search more by have unlimited shelf space, we can provide bringing these products to market, and cus- brand than by price. this deep selection more ably than our tradi- tomers seem to be responding,” Nielsen said. Besides carrying a broad assortment, tional competitors.” “In cutlery, our customers have shown increas- Cooking.com also offers product reviews by The Web site makes “tens of thousands of ing interest in both A­sian-styled products and customers, but one can be written only if the kitchenware items” available, he added, and color. Colors are also a driver in gadgets.” customer has purchased the product. With A­t Cooking.com and KitchenEtc.com, a liberal return policy and competitive pricit updates its offerings every day. Though the SOURCE FOR STA­TE OF number of results changes frequently, a re- owned by the same company, the idea “is to ing, the Web site overall wants to “provide THE INDUSTRy CHA­RTS: HFN RESEA­RCH cent search showed baking products as the carry a very broad assortment,” said Mayur [customers] with an experience they want to Shah, cookware, cutlery and bakeware buy- come back to.” er. With 1.6 million unique visitors a month Regarding trends within the categories, total KitchenWare Channels of Distribution (and 2.2 million during peak holiday sea- cast iron and non-stick cookware continue to son), Cooking.com offers the visitor 45,000 be strong, as does cookware overall and cutCatalogs Catalogs SKUs—which will grow to between 70,000 lery, Shah said. Within bakeware and cooks’ 2% 1% Other Other and 80,000 SKUs within the next few months tools, silicone continues to be the largest clas7% Supermarket/ 9% Supermarket/ as new categories are added. This includes sification of growth, he added, and fruit tools drugstores drugstores Specialty 16% 17% 1,100 products in bakeware, 1,600 in cook’s are also doing well. Generally, he finds that Specialty stores stores tools/gadgets, 2,200 in cookware, and 1,200 in customers want to move to higher-end prod25% 23% cutlery. Recently, Cooking.com’s home page ucts and “entertaining has not seemed to lose Mass Mass merchants highlighted several discounts, as well as the its cool either.” merchants & clubs & clubs Department chance to win a kitchen makeover and a free SmartBargains.com is another Web site 38% Department 37% stores stores shipping promotion. A­ link to video clips shot that allows shoppers to peruse products and 12% 13% at the recent International Home & House- save, and includes the Kitchen & Dining wares Show include Mario Batali talking Bargains section. To add drama to the hunt, about the cookware he would want on a de- the site labels products of which only a few Retail Sales 2006 % change 2005 serted island and Ming Tsai sharing his knife remain as “almost gone,” so the customer is ($ millions) $4,395.87 5.7% $4,158.31 knowledge. KitchenEtc.com is much smaller, prompted to act quickly or lose out. n


April 16, 2007/ HFN 29

Kitchenware rePOrt

On the Cutting Edge
Cutlery is gaining a bigger slice of the kitchenware market
By Allison Zisko
cutlery as a category has enjoyed a resurgence lately—a 7 percent sales gain last year, according to HFN estimates— fueled by strong consumer interest in Japanese-styled blades, as well as professionalquality products that not only perform well but look good in the kitchen. The well-populated field continues to grow as more vendors eye the category, and retailers believe the more the merrier—provided they offer a performance-based tool with unique qualities. “Our customers consistently respond to useful, well-designed and high-quality products, regardless of price point,” said Chris Nielsen, vice president of home and garden for A­mazon.com. “New cutlery players would be well served to ensure that they serve a wellunderstood customer need or desire. ‘Me-too’ products aren’t going to be successful in this environment—there’s just too much innovation for those products to win.” “To me the market is so saturated,” said Douglas Dillman, who owns the Freeport Knife Co., a kitchenware specialty store in Freeport, Maine, with his wife, Rhoda. The market used to be dominated by German, Japanese and A­merican companies, he said, but now there is an “onslaught” of products from China and more private-label options, not all of them good. “We’re knife snobs here,” Dillman admitted. “I’m skeptical of low-end brands that look pretty. … There’s a proliferation of brands.” Jennifer Baron, owner of A­ Cook’s Companion in Brooklyn, N.y., agreed that the high end “is pretty saturated,” but she left the door open to new companies. “There’s always room for more quality,” she said. “If you can be clever about it, there’s room for it.” Several companies were vying for recognition at the recent International Home & Housewares Show in Chicago. A­rcos is a Spanish manufacturer looking to expand awareness of its brand in the United States. Sasaki, the tabletop company recently acquired by Lifetime Brands, expanded into cutlery at the show.

lifetime Brands recently introduced kitchen prep sets in several of its cutlery brands, including this Kitchenaid block.

cutlery Channels of Distribution
Other 1% Department stores 19% Other 1% Department stores 25%

Specialty stores 43%

Specialty stores 39%

Supermarkets/ drugstores 1%

Mass merchants & clubs 36%

Supermarkets/ drugstores 1%

Mass merchants & clubs 34%

Retail Sales ($ millions)

2006 $425.37

% change 7.5%

2005 $395.69

A­nolon and Circulon, both part of Meyer Corp., which is primarily a cookware company, recently entered the cutlery business, while Tramontina, the Italy-based company that offers a small cutlery assortment, came to market with an A­sian-themed collection. Meanwhile, longtime and highly respected players have chosen to expand their product offerings in other directions. A­t the A­mbiente fair in Frankfurt, Germany, earlier this year, both Wüsthof and Henckels showcased their personal care items, such as the nail scissors and other grooming products that have a bigger audience in Europe than they have here in the United States. Henckels is also expanding its core steel competencies, moving into cookware and beefing up its flatware and gadget collections. Neither company, however, has neglected its core business. Wüsthof introduced the Classic Ikon at the Housewares Show, while Henckels offered line extensions in its Four Star II and Twin Cuisine lines. The biggest phenomenon in cutlery continues to be the santoku knife, which is sold by virtually every cutlery company on the map and so far shows no sign of peaking. Rhoda Dillman believes santokus will “absolutely” continue to be popular. Santokus with a hollow-ground edge, designed to allow food to slide off the knife more easily, are more popular than plain and “sell far better.” n

Rising Expectations
Cookware and bakeware take off as all aspects of dining become more popular
learn how to cook healthier.” In addition, though chefs such as Rachael Because of cooKing shoWs, good Ray and Mario Batali have released cookware restaurant meals, traveling and other realines within the past few years and are taksons, consumers want to make cooking ing market share, there is a movement back at home more of an enjoyable experience, to private label, including Kohl’s upcoming whether entertaining for friends or feeding The Food Network line and J.C. Penney’s the family. They are also more savvy about Cooks collection, said Jay Zilinskas, chief merchandising officer for Meyer Corp. A­s a cookware and bakeware overall, and are result, price points are affected. “It puts pressure on BaKeWare (metal only) Channels of Distribution cooKWare (metal only) Channels of Distribution the under $200 class,” and products in the $70 to $150 Other Other range are “showing value,” 4.5% Department 8% Department Other Other Department Department while $150 to $200 is now stores stores 14% 15% stores stores Specialty 10% 8.5% bridge gourmet. “Before, 18% 17% Specialty stores stores 17% the consumer was not will17% Specialty Specialty Mass ing to spend,” he said, but Mass stores stores merchants Mass Mass merchants 23% 21% Supermarkets/ now she sees these highly & clubs merchants merchants & clubs drugstores Supermarkets/ 45.5% & clubs & clubs recognized brands and is 42% 24.5% drugstores 33% 32% 23% Supermarkets/ willing to pay for them. Supermarkets/ drugstores drugstores “Consumers are driven 14% 13% to buy the same cookware products their favorite onRetail Sales 2006 % change 2005 Retail Sales 2006 % change 2005 air chef uses,” said Dru ($ millions) $536.06 4.0% $515.44 ($ millions) $1,968.46 5.5% $1,865.84 7 Continued on page 32

By Andrea Lillo

more willing to pay for quality, and they expect their equipment to fulfill their needs in the kitchen. “More and more consumers want to take control of what they eat,” said Chris Bartling, product development manager for Chantal. “So subsequently, there’s an increase in A­mericans watching The Food Network and attending cooking classes to

30 HFN /April 16, 2007


Kitchenware rePOrt

Left to Their Own Devices
Kitchen gadget makers put an increased focus on form, function and a nice design
By Christine Bockelman
Kitchen gadgets continued to Be hot in 2006, with growth that again outpaced most other housewares categories. In 2006, sales of gadgets increased 7.2 percent, from $978 million in 2005 to $1.04 billion in 2006. In 2005, the category grew about 5 percent. With A­mericans’ interest in cooking showing no signs of waning, gadgets represent an easy, low-priced entry point into the trendy world of gourmet food prep for many consumers. Vendors are responding to the interest, and trying to capture sales dollars, by offering a slew of products that marry form and function better than the competition. Silicone is the biggest story this year, as manufacturers continue to explore practical, new uses for the popular material. Softer, more flexible versions of silicone are being used to make colanders; strainers; and other bulky, awkwardly shaped cooking items collapsible for easier storage. ISI’s new silicone mixing bowls have a sturdy base and sides that can be squeezed together to form a makeshift spout. “We saw that silicone was a trending material in the industry, and we felt that due to its properties of high heat-resistance, flexibility and ease of cleaning, there was an opportunity to explore different applications for it in the kitchen,” said A­manda Luke, product manager at OXO. The company introduced a silicone colander with a stainlesssteel frame that can be immersed in boiling water but also becomes flat to save space. Speciality tools also have a big presence this year, as major manufacturers increasingly invest time and money into staying on top of niche food trends. For Lifetime Brands, the KitchenA­id cherry/olive pitter was popular at the International Home & Housewares Show, said A­dam Krent, vice president of design at Lifetime Brands. “Since its use is so specifically task-oriented, we really wanted to create a design that both improved the overall experience of the user and resolved the ‘pitfall’ issues of existing competitors’ design,” Kent said. Consumers are looking for “multifunctional” items, said Mathieu Lion, chief executive officer of Mastrad, the company behind the Orka brand. “Customers want the best of all worlds,” Lion said. “Consumers desire kitchens stocked with tools that make their lives easier.” Cuisipro, for example, has introduced many multipurpose items, such as its new handheld storage grater. The egg-shaped gadget sits in the palm of a hand. Relative newcomer A­rt & Cook is all about form and function. Each of the company’s carefully designed kitchen tools has a colorful handle that’s filled with pockets of pressurized air, and is designed to be more ergonomic and less stressful to consumers’ hands. n

Kitchen tools & gadgets Channels of Distribution
Other 1.5% Catalogs 3% Department stores 6.5% Specialty stores 30% Mass merchants & clubs 40% Other 1% Catalogs 2% Department stores 7% Specialty stores 26% Mass merchants & clubs 40% Supermarkets/ drugstores 24%

Supermarkets/ drugstores 19%

Retail Sales ($ millions)

2006 $1,049.86

% change 7.2%

2005 $978.89

Rising Expectations
Continued from page 32 Popper, brand manager of Regal Ware. A­nd celebrity chefs not only endorse products but are involved in the design process as well. Specialty pieces of cookware and bakeware also provide opportunity as “more consumers want to prepare the different types of cuisines they’ve enjoyed in the finer restaurants,” Bartling said. So cookware and bakeware that help consumers prepare A­sian, Indian and Central A­merican dishes will become more popular, he said. “Consumers are much more savvy shoppers than in the past; we must be attuned to their preferences, especially in how they receive information,” he said. “There is not a one-size-fits-all way to reach consumers, so we must be creative in each channel and make each communication point valuable.” Popper agreed: “We have also seen an increase in world influences, especially colors. A­s consumers have greater interest in world cuisine, they look into using the most authentic cookware as well.” In cookware, stainless steel continues to be a strong performer, Zilinskas said, as is clad cookware. Stainless “will be another hot trend for another year or so,” partly due to the influence of The Food Network—“you see a lot of stainless steel on it.” Chantal’s Bartling added that the increase in raw materials, such as nickel—“prices can rise 20 percent in a two-week span”—has the industry searching for alternatives, such as enamel-on-steel, to ensure products are reasonably priced. Bakeware has also been upgraded. “Bakeware has been viewed as a commodity,” Zilinskas said, and Meyer has only been in the bakeware business for two years now. The category “was viewed as a throwaway—if it wears out, you just buy another one. But if you attach brands to it, the expectations change.” It recently introduced its Circulon bakeware, which incorporates high/low grooves. Though many feel silicone is hot, Zilinskas thinks it’s not. “I see it as not moving forward right now,” and sources such as reports and retailers’ views feel “that business is leveling or dropping. It’s a niche business; it’s not long term.” But many vendors continue to introduce silicone into their lines, including Kaiser Bakeware, which recently unveiled its La Forme Perfect collection, combining metal and silicone. Consumers are looking for ease of use—“easier to bake, easier to clean up, easier to store,” said Robin Farrell, marketing representative for Kaiser Bakeware. “Our products that gave home bakers an edge in terms of cutting down on cleanup, such as the Easy Bake & Serve, the silicone muffin cups, did well.” n

top five exporters of cooKWare & BaKeWare* to u.s., 2006
($ in millions)
amount ShaRe of total

1 china 2 thailand 3 india 4 canada 5 italy

$1,451.1 $226.1 $130.1 $109.6 $106.8

59% 9% 5% 4% 4%

u.s. imports of cooKWare and BaKeWare*
($ in millions)
amount %Change

2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000

$2,455.4 $2,309.0 $2,049.0 $1,954.9 $1,805.0 $1,621.4 $1,668.3

6.3% 12.7% 4.8% 8.3% 11.3% -2.8%


32 HFN /April 16, 2007


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