23223 Wed, 11/23/2011 - 10:40am
With a category as big and varied as housewares, it takes something special to get noticed. The following are housewares companies that are on the move to rise above the rest.
Special by Design
Joseph Joseph, the U.K.-based design-oriented kitchenware company, is rapidly raising its profile here in the United States. The eight-year-old company has quickly earned a reputation for quality products that are both stylish and innovative. These traits have garnered it prime real estate at specialty retailers such as Sur La Table, which recently doubled its floor space dedicated to Joseph Joseph in its SoHo store in New York City.
“Joseph Joseph designs products with functionality in mind with the aim to make our products more user friendly,” said Damon Willmott, sales director for U.S. operations. “Our products are not only distinctive by design, but offer a unique style to the current kitchenware available in stores. We consider our products affordable, but on the more ‘luxurious’ end of the market, and we are therefore looking toward the retailers that can enhance and showcase our collection as a brand story.”
Joseph Joseph’s superior design sensibility is already well known in Europe. The company has won the prestigious reddot design award for the past three years running and was part of the “2011 International Track 100,” the U.K. Sunday Times’ annual listing of Britain’s private companies with the fastest-growing international sales. josephjoseph.com
Eyes on the Prizes
The honors have poured in for Jura-Capresso. Since early this year, several of the company’s products have received design awards from a number of international organizations.
The Jura Z7 One Touch was given the Good Design Award from the Chicago Athenaeum in February. In April, the Jura Impressa J9 One Touch TFT won the 2011 reddot design award from an international panel of design professionals and industry specialists. In May, the Capresso Froth Pro was named a finalist for New Product or Service of the Year-Consumer Products Category from the American Business Awards.
According to David Shull, vice president of sales and marketing, these designations are the result of Jura-Capresso’s efforts at “pushing the envelope. Product innovation is our top priority.” Shull cited Jura’s One Touch technology, which produces cappuccinos and lattes with one touch of a button, and Capresso’s lineup of coffeemakers—including the Froth Pro—which “provide retailers with options to build custom assortments to meet their consumers’ needs.”
Having raised the bar on technology, Jura-Capresso is now looking to raise it on advertising and marketing. For the Impressa J9, the company has teamed up with tennis great Roger Federer on a holiday-season advertising campaign. It has also launched a national print advertising campaign for the Froth Pro. jura-capresso.com
Beaucoup Beverageware and More
Formation Brands, whose portfolio includes the Slant and Clay Art brands and a wide array of private label merchandise, is forging a “fashion on the go” statement with many of its newest products. Its beverageware business continues to grow; its assortment includes whimsical stemware, a mug collection and plenty of travel items.
“This whole to-go, travel [category] has been fantastic,” said Leslie Miller, company founder and executive vice president of sales and marketing.
To complement its expansive line of lidded acrylic travel mugs, Formation Brands unveiled multiple entertainment-based SKUs at the Tabletop Show last month, including lunch totes and grill sets (designed to appeal to women with black and white polka-dot or zebra-print grilling aprons edged in fuscia or neon green, with deep pockets for tools).
The company, aided by an eight-person design team in San Francisco, is exploring new categories of business, including more melamine options and paper napkins, or, as Karen Funkhouser, vice president of sales and business development, put it, “the whole soup-to-nuts story.” formationbrandsllc.com
The Consumer is King
Not a single decision occurs at Aroma Housewares without considering what its impact on consumers will be. And the company actively solicits consumer opinions through multiple channels it has developed to collect feedback.
“We’re actively engaged in analyzing consumer surveys and emails,” said Todd Rogers, Aroma’s marketing director. “Our customer-service department has a very loud voice in our product-development process.
Aroma manufactures a variety of small electrics. Rogers said the company is “America’s dominant brand in rice cookers, electric water kettles and wooden-bucket ice-cream makers.” More recently, the company has made some inroads into induction cooktops and coffee-making accessories.
Technology plays a key role in its product designs, including fuzzy logic in rice cookers and digital features in kettles. Aroma’s innovations are also centered on the consumer. “We ask questions like, ‘Is this function going to help get dinner on the table faster?’ or ‘Will this help families eat healthier?’” Rogers said.
Touching consumers on an emotional level—which, as Rogers said, isn’t easy with small electrics—is always a goal at Aroma. “We’ve noticed an influx of positive communication from our consumers over the last few years thanking us for saving them time, making things easier and offering functions that they can’t find in our competitors’ units,” Rogers said. “It’s this sort of feedback that tells us we’re on the right track.” aromaco.com
Bake, Serve, Give, Recycle
Launched in January, the Welcome Home Brands collection of paper bakeware is now in more than 2,000 stores across the country and has started to branch out internationally. The brand is sold in a wide range of stores, from large specialty chains to independent gourmet stores to hardware stores and hospital gift shops. Consumer interest in this giftable, disposable product is high. It makes it easy to bake, serve, store and give, all in the same form. It eliminates the need for metal pans, which means no pre-greasing or messy cleanup.
“When we launched the line we researched the category and found a real void,” said Rich Aslanian, co-founder and co-CEO, with Sam Sheppard. “I believe packaging and branding tell the story. The efforts prior to our launch lacked any sort of intent to brand a product.”
Welcome Home Brands’ tagline is “bake-serve-give-recycle” and the company has been successfully leveraging the “baking craze out there.” Consumers are looking for easy, time-saving ways to bake at home, Aslanian said, and Welcome Home’s paper bakeware fits the bill. welcomehomebrands.com
Something for Everyone
Wilton Armetale is well-known for its alternative metal serveware but in the past year it has sharpened its focus on newness, product development and diversity of product under President Ed Leibensperger.
The company creates between 100 and 150 new products per year from a new team of designers. The result is a product line that encompasses many different design directions and offers something for everyone. The company also continues to build its Grillware line, which can go straight on the grill, with numerous new pieces, demonstration videos for consumers, and training videos for sales associates. The emphasis is on the everyday usability of the product, Leibensperger said, and to that end, the company plans to name a new everyday spokesperson for the product line in December. The spokesperson, the winner of a contest held earlier this year, will demonstrate the product in use in the kitchen. The company is also retaining its focus on the bride, with a new collection called Belle Mont.
“We’re excited about what we’re doing,” Leibensperger said. “Our customers are excited.” armetale.com
Friend of the Environment
Retail and housewares veteran Evan Dash’s newest venture—StoreBound—is a product development and distribution platform that focuses on the kitchen, laundry and office categories. Its first official launch is the Laundry POD, a non-electric washing machine that uses six liters of water to do a small load of laundry.
“There is nothing easy about getting the consumer to think differently about such a routine task. However, the early results show that there is a pent-up demand for a more portable and environmental friendly method of washing clothes,” Dash said. “We are realizing the great applications for apartments, dorm rooms and RVs as well as emerging markets all over the world. The humanitarian side to the product is gratifying as well.”
More recently, the company added Adam Cotumaccio as chief operating officer and Shaun Mackenzie as senior vice president/national sales manager to the executive team, as well as completed an acquisition of Desk Saver Global, a unique organization system for the work space. Dash said that a few more brand launches will be announced around the International Home + Housewares Show next year. At that show, StoreBound’s booth will be in the Discover Design Pavilion in the South Hall. There, “we will launch between 20 and 30 new and innovative products,” he said. storebound.com
Targeting North America
While German cookware manufacturer Woll Cookware has tried to break into the U.S. market before, it’s Global Marketing’s “understanding of the business” that has allowed the brand to hit the ground running this year. “We specialize in the gourmet retailer side of the business,” said Allan Wolk, president, Woll Cookware USA, a member of the Global Marketing family. Woll sells its product line in more than 45 countries worldwide, but “North America always had its challenges.”
Now Woll’s U.S. distributor, Global Marketing, offers retailers six lines: the reddot award-winning Logic series of titanium reinforced nonstick cookware in a stylish linear shape; Titanium Nowo, a titanium reinforced nonstick line that offers a patented detachable handle; Diamond’s Best, which has a diamond reinforced nonstick surface and a thick 10 mm body; Concept Pro, of three ply construction with an aluminum core, and with a lid that can positioned three ways; Diamond’s Plus, pictured, a diamond reinforced cast aluminum line; and, to come in January, Diamond’s Plus Induction, with a diamond reinforced patented cast aluminum bottom.
All of the lines are PFOA free, Wolk added, and the Diamond’s Best and Diamond’s Plus lines can also be special ordered with a detachable handle. Diamond’s Best is one of the collections that has been received well, said Wolk, and is at a good price point for the industry. Concept Pro has also gotten a lot of attention, he said. “It’s an image and design piece for the high-end but it says you’re in cookware.” wollcookwareusa.com
It’s been a year of change at Fox Run Brands, which has seen it grow from one brand to nine within five years, spurting the company to change its name from Fox Run Craftsman this past summer to better reflect its expanding brand portfolio. The acquisition of Outset last year brought to Fox Run Brands the Kingsford and Guy Fieri brands, two areas with “tremendous potential,” said Sean Leonard, president, Fox Run Brands. Other past acquisitions include Kitchen Art and Doughmakers Gourmet Bakeware, and Fox Run Brands is working on a few others, said Leonard, hoping to announce them by the end of the year. The new acquisitions will expand Fox Run Brands to new areas of the home, he said. “We’re moving beyond kitchen; they’ll be complementary categories to what we carry today.”
Baking products have been the core of Fox Run Brands, he added, especially during a down economy. With the proliferation of cake-related television shows and gourmet cupcake shops, that category will continue to grow, he added. Two products that will be released for the season include a “very unique” pie decorating kit, pictured, and a pie spatula.
“We’ve really ramped up development,” he added. The key product development people at both Kitchen Art and Outset stayed on after those acquisitions, he added. “We’ll focus on product development like never before.” foxbrands.com
Partnering to Expand
Known for its range accessories, Range Kleen will be emphasizing storage/organizational-related items going forward, and which includes its new set of cookware protectors, pictured, which help protect cookware from being scratched or damaged in storage.
“Consumers know and trust the Range Kleen brand along with Berndes [the German cookware company with which it has a partnership] as a quality piece of product that delivers on the promise of durability and performance,” said Patrick O’Connor, president/owner, Range Kleen. “While our range accessories category continues to expand, we put strategic emphasis on our Berndes cookware partnership as well and additional new product development efforts in storage/organizational-related items.”
Earlier this year Range Kleen extended its partnership with Berndes to 2015, continuing to lead all sales, marketing and shipping of Berndes Cookware USA from its headquarters as well as expanding its territorial responsibility from North America to now including Mexico and the Caribbean.
The most recent line of Berndes cookware is the Berndes SignoCAST Pearl ceramic cookware, which has European design and styling. Berndes is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year. rangekleen.com
Young at Heart
The first Wushthof factory may have been producing as early as 1814, but the knife company is taking a youthful approach these days—and is clearly on the rise, especially to younger consumers.
Earlier this year, the company introduced its Classic Five-Piece Studio Block set targeting younger, space-deprived and price-conscious consumers.
The Classic Five-Piece Studio Block set features a narrow, customized four-slot light-wood storage block that holds four cutlery tools: 3.5-inch pairing knife, 4.5-inch utility knife, 6-inch cook’s knife and come-apart kitchen shears.
“It’s a starter set that’s designed to reach consumers just out of college, or maybe they’re in their first job,” said Annette Garaghty, the vice president of Wusthof-Trident of America. “We’ve found that they want to use great products. It’s great for studio apartments as well.”
Also emphasizing a more youthful demographic, the company has really “dipped its toe into social media,” Garaghty said. “It goes hand in hand with the younger demographic.”
Look for Wusthof-Trident to make a splash at the next Housewares Show with the company’s largest-ever ad campaign. wusthof.com
Power in Small Electrics
For nearly 100 years, Electrolux has been an iconic company in the U.S. floor-care and major-appliance markets. Now it would like to be an icon in the small-electrics category in North America.
The company has taken the first steps in this direction with the rollout, last month, of a line of small kitchen appliances branded under Frigidaire. Included in this line are a 12-cup coffeemaker, a toaster/convection oven, a two-slice toaster, a seven-quart slow cooker and four irons.
Offering these under the Frigidaire label makes an instant connection with consumers, according to Marty O’Gorman, president of Electrolux Small Appliances North America. “The Frigidaire brand means a lot to consumers, with excellent brand awareness for over 100 years,” O’Gorman said. “These products are perfect for consumers looking for something stylish.”
O’Gorman added that Electrolux will add to this line down the road, including products in other company brands. “Our brand has a strong identification with high performance, durability and style for over 100 years,” he said. electrolux.com