The Instant Pot has become the cookware of the moment, with CNET reporting that the pressure cooker “continues to draw an obsessive, cultlike crowd of home cooks.” Recipes for and pictures of appetizers, entrees, desserts and cocktails have become ubiquitous on social media platforms such as Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram.
And who hasn’t tuned into Food Network or visited foodnetwork.com to watch a celebrity chef prepare a meal or check out a new recipe? The network, after all, is distributed to nearly 100 million U.S. households and draws more than 46 million unique web users each month.
The message is clear: Not only are today’s consumers savvy about the food they eat but they’re also interested in cooking that food within the confines of their own kitchens.
Seventy-seven percent of Americans, for example, say they would rather eat a homemade meal than go out for dinner, according to online grocer Peapod’s annual meal planning forecast. “Resolving to spend more time in the kitchen in the new year, 43% said they plan to cook more in 2019,” reports Chicago-based Peapod. The figure is even greater for millennials, with 59% planning to prepare more homemade meals.
Many of those home cooks are shopping your store, which means that an amped-up cookware category equates to a recipe for boosting the bottom line.
Modern Lifestyles Drive Trends
In its 2019 Cookware Trend Report, Forbesidentified four key trends on the horizon in the new year: more color, copper, adaptable pieces for small-space living, and personal pieces, including items that meet consumers’ individual needs “while showing off their style in the kitchen.”
The way consumers’ lives have evolved is among the factors driving those trends. Millennials are moving into cities and empty nesters are downsizing—and both groups are seeking stackable cookware and other innovative housewares to help them leverage limited storage space, Penny Rosema, managing director for Lowell, Mich.-based Cookware Manufacturers Association (CMA), explained in the October 2018 webinar “What’s Cooking ... An Update on Trends, Techniques and Consumers on Cookware and Bakeware” from the International Housewares Association (IHA). They’re also looking for items that help them address their desire for healthy cooking, hence the popularity of cookware with nonstick surfaces, Rosema says.
In addition, the IHA/CMA webinar found that 90% of consumers will replace their cookware within a decade. That means more than 1.2 million of the 121 million U.S. households likely will replace their cookware each year. “Think about how this translates into replacement buys in your market,” Rosema says.
Ethnic influences and sustainability also come into play, according to Robert Laub, president of Lakewood, New Jersey-based Harold Import Co. (HIC). “Tools that allow home chefs to create authentic recipes, whether they are pasta makers, pasta stamps and ravioli presses or Asian-inspired tools including spider strainers, bamboo steamers and an Asian-style rolling pin, will continue to enjoy strong sales,” Laub says. “We have also seen increased interest in kitchenware that is sustainable,” including HIC’s Beyond Gourmet Parchment Paper, new Beyond Gourmet Nature-Fresh Cleaning Cloths made from natural wood fibers, bamboo kitchen gadgets and cookware, and Helen’s Asian Kitchen Asian-Style Rolling Pin.
An Evolving, Expanding Category
While consumers typically haven’t considered their supermarket a go-to destination for housewares (unless, perhaps, for last-minute cooking utensils, a baking dish or plastic spoons, forks and knives), that is changing. With the popularity of home cooking on the rise, the housewares category offers significant opportunities for grocers who choose to expand the space.
“Responding to consumers’ desire to shop for all their needs in one store, coupled with the increase in online shopping, the availability of housewares within the supermarket space is definitely expanding,” Laub says. “It is more important than ever that grocery retailers who are looking for ways to capture customer attention in the busy retail space and grow their bottom line offer a range of housewares that complement the kitchen—and this ranges from traditional cookware to high-quality porcelain oven-to-tableware, serving and entertaining pieces, gadgets, kitchen textiles and so much more.”
Boost Sales With Merchandising, Education
There are several steps retailers can take to create excitement in the housewares category.
In addition to the traditional carded products merchandised in endcaps or product merchandisers at the checkout, “many opportunities exist for retailers to ensure their store is top of mind when it comes to essential housewares products,” Laub says. “If space allows, a dedicated aisle that is well-stocked with kitchen essentials will continually remind customers that your store is a resource for housewares.”
Additional opportunities arise when conducting a food sampling event, which Laub says presents “an ideal way to demonstrate a specific kitchen tool, for example, as it complements the food being sampled.”
It’s also important to train sales staff so they’re prepared to answer questions for today’s consumers who seek more information about product purchases than ever before, according to the IHA/CMA webinar.
Does your sales team, for example, understand conduction cooking and know that glass top-of-stove cookware is extremely resistant to conduction because glass is a poor conductor? Or that the more quickly a pan heats up, or conducts, the more quickly it will cool, meaning that a less conductive pan might be the desired choice for cooking soups and stews that require long and slow food preparation?
Those are just some of the facts retail teams should know—facts that can be found in the CMA’s Buyers’ Learning Tools, a free seven-part module that covers cooking methods, materials, manufacturing methods, coatings and finishes and more.
Retail trends: What's cookin'
In the October 2018 webinar “What’s Cooking ... An Update on Trends, Techniques and Consumers on Cookware and Bakeware” from the International Housewares Association (IHA), Penny Rosema, managing director of the Cookware Manufacturers Association (CMA), presented the following statistics related to the cookware and bakeware categories.
Popularity of Bakeware Items
Rank in unit shipments through June 2018
Percent of Cookware Dollar Sales
Through June 2018