Maybe it's passé, even cliché to claim it as the heart of the home, but clichés are not born without merit. The kitchen is the epicenter of every house and it is where the action lives. Every day family members gather around to bond and share their stories. The hungry masses are fed, traditions are passed down, tears are wiped away and victories are celebrated. It is also where "household names" are born, bred and become trusted family mainstays. The shear number of logos and brands that find their way into the kitchen—donning shelves, appliances, gadgets and gourmet items—is enough to make marketing gurus giggle and distributor salespeople swoon.
THE TABLE HAS BEEN SET
With the economy still sputtering and consumer confidence at all-time lows, the average family is spending less time in restaurants and more time in the home cooking. As distributors, the key is getting eyeballs on the branded product. A great way to accomplish this is directing product into that most popular room of the house. "We are definitely seeing an increase in sales of kitchen accessories," noted David Goldfarb, marketing manager for Evans Manufacturing, Garden Grove, Calif. "As cooking in the home has increased over the last few years, so has the demand for kitchen accessories."
Sarah Sumner, program coordinator for Bay State Specialty Company, Middleboro, Mass., noted that kitchen products are great for a variety of companies, including those not normally associated with cooking. "All industries can find a tangible use for kitchen/houseware products and the marketing can be fun," she said, adding that getting creative while developing the promotional campaign can have great impact in catching end-users' attentions. "For example, any of our spatulas or spreaders could have a catchphrase such as 'Spread the Word' and then add any business name. All the products are useful, so your logo/name will be top of mind."
Goldfarb confirmed there is a definite increase in the variety of end-buyers for kitchen promotional products. "Companies from a variety of industries are giving out household products," he said. "Distributors should realize that a variety of industries are purchasing household products as a top option."
But the almighty question remains: Who exactly is doing the buying? Both Sumner and Goldfarb state that it's not just kitchen product or food companies, but also financial institutions, insurance companies, home health care providers, real estate brokers and retail companies. Goldfarb also noted an increase in companies purchasing household products for their own employees.
If you are talking trends for kitchen products, then what's hot is upscale design and retail looks. "Some of the latest trends include design improvements, more unique products and [an] increased use of silicone," Goldfarb said. With design improvements moving toward retail styling, these products are not meant to be stuffed away in the junk drawer. "We are seeing design improvements on basic products from cake servers to pizza cutters to ice creams scoops. They are no longer just inexpensive-looking products hidden in a drawer, but are aesthetically designed with special added touches," he continued.
The decrease in silicone pricing in recent years and its high melting point make it very effective manufacturing material in kitchen products, and there has been a definitive increase in silicone product sales and usage. "We are finding more and more products being completely or partially made from silicone, including strainers, measuring cups, brushes, pot holders and spoons," noted Goldfarb. Sumner also confirmed the increase in silicone product purchasing, in particular with silicone spatulas and scrapers, but also noted the gaining popularity of the retail sheik, eco-friendly renewable resource bamboo as a popular product pick. "Our bamboo spoons and matching spatulas are extremely popular, very attractive and useful," she said.
SAVE THE LEFTOVERS
When you distill it to its essence, the reason kitchen products are so effective in sending a marketing message is their lasting appeal and the high level of appreciation those who receive the product feel. When a frazzled mom or dad can simply pull out a kitchen helper that will make their job faster and easier, that promotional gift will be a stand out in their mind.
According to Goldfarb, unique and specialized utensils see as much use as spatulas and potholders, and stand out even more. "[Because] they are not prevalent in most kitchens, there is a wow-factor attributed to these new helpful kitchen tools," he said. "For example, [Evans Manufacturing's] Can Strain-it is designed specifically to drain tuna fish, vegetable and fruit cans. It is not a kitchen staple, but those that use it, love it."
Simple as it may seem, reaching the heart of the end-user is as easy as showing up in the heart of the home. "Kitchen products are used by everyone," Sumner said. "Most people gather in the kitchen area, so [a] logo will be seen with these items. Our products are made to last, the printing is of great quality [and end-users] don't get rid of them."