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Get Real By Building A Little More Character

The cover of this year’s International Home + Housewares Show edition of HomeWorld Business (March 1) features some familiar faces.

Guy Fieri and Sandra Lee of the Food Network. Baker Buddy Valastro of TLC’s “Cake Boss.” Breakfast icon Tony the Tiger.

Why are they gracing the cover in a nod to one of today’s most popular reality TV franchises? They are among the latest licenses bringing high-profile personality to the housewares industry: an ensemble of reality brands expected to connect with consumers on a profoundly profitable level.

Instant Fame

This is not a new development, of course.

Celebrity brands have been popular for years, although the concept has surged in this era of infomercials, cooking-and-home programming and reality TV series.

Instant brand fame and differentiation are enticing to a housewares industry in which many are hard-pressed to build their own meaningful consumer branding foundation.

The potential of a huge payoff when a celebrity brand hits big can be well worth the royalty, outweighing the risk of not being able to control the celebrity’s behavior or pop-culture staying power.

How well these latest celebrity housewares brands perform and how long they last remains to be seen. Despite the seemingly endless litany of TV chefs, packaged goods icons and otherwise fashionable individuals lining up for a stake in the housewares business, the reality is most companies exhibiting at the Housewares Show don’t have the luxury of putting marketable, famous faces on their packaging.

Humanize The Brand

The vision and effort to give brands and products more character, nonetheless, is a worthy cause for any company trying to separate from the pack in this competitive business that often goes to the lowest bidder.

The newly minted CEO of a veteran housewares company recently stressed the importance of “humanizing” his company’s products and brand. He didn’t mean inking a celebrity license.

He talked about nurturing an emotional connection to the brand. Giving the brand a voice and a personality. Making the brand a resource. Getting consumers to like the brand. Treating the consumer like a friend.

Words such as “like” and “friend” in today’s marketing lexicon no doubt reflect the emerging social media network as a convenient conveyance of a brand’s direct-to-consumer relationship.

Make It Personal

The humanization of a product and its brand, however, starts at the onset of design and marketing ideation. That’s when relevant lifestyle themes should guide development as much as, if not more than, relevant pricepoint targets.

Getting consumers to trust a brand on a more personal level also starts with retailers trusting the personality of a brand to help drive sell-through as fervently as they rely on the basics of features, benefits and pricing.

Craft a product and brand statement to the trade and to the consumer that is as engaging as it is engineered; as fun as it is functional; as affable as it is affordable.

Make it personal. Make it real.

The familiar face of a world-famous breakfast cereal icon is “gr-r-reat” when you can put it on a box.

The reality is every product and brand could benefit from a little more character.