Experts in the housewares industry say products in several categories are moving off shelves these days. Here’s what’s hot — and why — and how pros are using DR to capitalize.
Well, it happened again — this time in an even more impressive manner. The International Housewares Association (IHA) reports its 2015 International Home+Housewares Show sold out in late December, more than 11 weeks before its March 7 opening.
The event sold out last year, too. But for 2015, the association broke a record: This is the earliest the show has ever sold out its exhibit space. The show, scheduled for March 7-10, will host more than 2,100 exhibitors from around the world, including 400 first-time exhibitors.
“It’s a sign of how important this marketplace is,” says Phil Brandl, IHA president and CEO.
Brandl says products across a host of categories are thriving: home-brewed coffee, home-food preparation, juicers, cleaners (robotic and traditional), organizing and storage products, along with Internet-connected home appliances.
“Consumers are preparing more meals at home, investing in cookware and learning new preparation techniques from celebrity chefs,” he says. “Consumers’ move to a healthier diet has spawned many new products and given new energy to others. The housewares industry continues to bring solutions to consumers in their quest for a healthier life.”
Insiders say that beyond the kitchen, consumers are also cleaning and organizing like never before. “Consumers continue to tell us that an organized home is a top priority,” Brandl says. “And there are many new, unique storage solutions set to debut at the show this year.”
Another continuing trend is the impact of design. Whether designers chose to focus on human factors that make a product easier to use or on more technical features, Brandl says their goal is to revolutionize the ways that we live, work, clean, organize, cook, serve and dine.
Time to Get Cooking
Clearly, the direct response industry has been responsible for a kitchen full of top-selling examples in cooking and food preparation. And that fact that doesn’t surprise Tony Besasie, president at Cannella Response Television in Burlington, Wis.
“The housewares category is a staple,” Besasie says. “Products like coffee makers, blenders, mixers, juicers, ovens, cookers and fryers have all seen success, and the category includes some strong name brands like Ninja, NutriBullet and KitchenAid.”
Besasie said the national focus on childhood obesity and the popularity of TV programs like “The Biggest Loser” — and documentaries like “Fat Sick” and “Nearly Dead” — have made eating right culturally relevant in the U.S.
He adds that long-form DRTV has consistently demonstrated the features and versatility of food-prep products. “Long-form lets the marketer go beyond generating brand awareness. The DRTV and digital marketing efforts generate a more educated and qualified customer at the point of purchase. We’re also seeing marketers focus less on selling convenience benefits like saving time and more on promoting the enjoyment of cooking, taste, and meal variety,” Besasie says.
NuWave LLC, the company that has sold nearly 5 million countertop ovens, has put infomercials on the front burner of its marketing efforts.
Keith Hamden, senior vice president of sales at NuWave in Libertyville, Ill., says the company has sold that many ovens by using infomercials to demonstrate value and cater to the public’s desire to save time and money while eating healthier — all at an affordable price point.
A key reason NuWave has enjoyed success, Hamden says, is because its products are in tune with customer feedback.
“The feedback we consistently get from our customers is that they want to live well by eating healthier, losing weight, saving money and adding overall convenience to their everyday lives,” Hamden says. “Each and every one of our products aligns perfectly with our customers’ desires.”
That consumer alignment is vital, says Mary Dickson, public relations manager at Edison Nation, an As Seen On TV partner and product development company in Charlotte, N.C. “Our team looks for products that make life easier for consumers,” she says. “A great product is simple, saves time, solves a problem and works.”
Dickson shares Eggies® has an example — the product that creates hardboiled eggs without the hassle of peeling. “It’s been our most successful housewares product to date because we were able to solve a problem that transcended virtually every household,” she contends.
Cleaning Up in Housewares
A couple more categories that are enjoying a resurgence of sales are cleaning and organizing, according to the IHA. The elephant in the room/category is OxiClean. Today, it holds a whopping 47-percent market share.
“OxiClean has been one of the most successful products launched in the direct response category,” says Nancy Lazkani, CEO of Icon Media Direct, a direct response ad agency in Los Angeles.
Lazkani says it’s rare for a direct response brand to make it from a “one-hit-wonder” status to a national brand, but OxiClean has developed loyalists all around the country because the product does what it promises.
On the organizing/storage product front, Lazkani likes Space Bag, which was purchased by Ziploc in 2012. The product uses a vacuum seal to store more clothes in less space.
“Space Bag sold for $19.99 through a direct response offer and it was different than what was available at retail,” she says. “It created a special value that you couldn’t get in stores.”
She says Space Bag did a smart thing by offering the value package through direct channels, “which still surprisingly drove 90 percent of its business through retail channels. Direct response was the advertising platform that built Space Bag as a major retail item and they used DRTV as the platform to drive over a $100 million in sales,” and the eventual sale of the brand to Ziploc.
Another company with plenty of hits in cleaning and organizing is Concepts TV Productions, a production firm in Boonton, N.J. Its production successes include Smart Mop and DiDi 7 (the stain remover) and, more recently, Mr. Lid (containers with attached lids) and SeasonAire (the heater and air purifier).
Kristy Pinand, Concepts TV Productions’ vice president of sales and marketing — and a speaker at both the 2014 and 2015 International Home+Housewares Shows — says profitable housewares’ products elicit that “a-ha” moment in consumers’ heads.
“They can instantly look at the product and say to themselves, ‘I need that,’ because those moments are ultimately what turn into purchases,” she says
To get that “a-ha” moment, Pinand says marketing in housewares is all about the demonstration. “We want to instantly capture consumers’ attention with a demo from the start of the spot so we show how the product works,” she contends.
And the more memorable, the better. For example, Pinand says to make Furniture Fix (it adds lift to sagging chairs and couches) stick in viewers’ minds, they had two sumo wrestlers sit on a couch to show it didn’t sag.
“Realistic? Maybe not. But memorable? Absolutely,” Pinand says.
Norah Alberto, director of global brand communications at Tristar Products, a product branding company in Fairfield, N.J., adds that “staying relevant” is crucial in marketing housewares.
“We’re very active on social media with recipes, contests, videos and spokespeople,” Alberto says. “We’ve learned the consumer is looking for high-value, innovative new products that also build an emotional connection. We need to move fast and be nimble but produce a good quality product at a competitive price.”
She says technology is now playing a much larger role in marketing. “Integrated marketing and technology allows brands to be presented across multiple platforms and leverage multimedia,” Alberto contends. “It has also made the consumer path shorter. We can now get feedback, address any concerns and test opportunities almost in real time. We have become much more consumer-centric as a result.”
The Future of Housewares
Technology is not only influencing the marketing of housewares, it’s transforming the products themselves.
“I think you’ll start to see a lot more smart housewares devices in the foreseeable future — products that are tied to apps and other technology,” says Drew Plotkin, creative director and partner at Launch DRTV, an infomercial and DR firm in Los Angeles.
Plotkin says marketers and manufacturers are trying to get a sense of when the right time will be to introduce these types of products to the mass audience.
“I very much believe the time is upon us now,” he says. “Technology and social media is mainstream. This is going to make a huge impact on both housewares and direct response as a whole.”
Plotkin continues to be bullish on DR’s part in selling housewares. “You’d be hard pressed to find a successful housewares company that’s not looking seriously at DRTV when you see the success of brands like Ninja, NutriBullet and others,” he says.
But he also adds marketers will continue to tap digital channels. “Certainly you’re seeing an aggressive digital push by housewares brands, which of course makes sense,” Plotkin says. “I believe you’ll also start to see a much stronger push into social media by these brands.”
Plotkin contends direct response has evolved into “in-direct response,” meaning viewers who see a TV spot are going to search the campaign online beyond the brand’s dedicated website.
“They’ll search YouTube, read online reviews, forums, blogs, etc.,” he says. “It’s a good thing. It makes us in the industry evolve and work harder and smarter to earn consumers’ business and loyalty. We’ll end up with more informed consumers, so the best products will win out.”
He likens it to when digital music entered the music industry.
“Everyone was worried it would kill the music industry, but that didn’t happen,” Plotkin says. “The best artists are thriving. The model shifted. They needed to tour and perform live and work harder. The days of releasing an album and getting crazy rich are mostly gone, but the top bands that create great music and get out and tour, and engage their fan base — customers — are at the top of their game like never before. And I believe that’s where we are heading in housewares — and DRTV as a whole.” ■
Rachel Leskanichttp://conceptstv.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/logo.pngRachel Leskanic2015-03-19 18:47:192015-03-19 18:47:19Response Magazine features Concepts TV & it's VP of Sales & Marketing, Kristy Pinand!
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