The Answer To The Industry’s Recovery: Cupcakes
Monday October 25th, 2010 - 7:46AM
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Still looking for a centerpiece for the housewares industry’s recovery? I think I’ve found it.
Cupcakes. Yes, cupcakes.
Don’t snicker. This cupcake thing, if you haven’t been paying attention, is serious business.
We’ve been covering the cupcake boom and corresponding ascension of cupcake-related housewares for a couple of years. But it really hit me at the recent New York Tabletop Market, where everyday and luxury players alike served up cupcake accessories.
Cupcakes don’t just transcend everyday and luxury tableware and serveware. The rise of cupcakes has spawned all sorts of interesting products from specialty baking molds, to no-pan disposable cups, to new prep and decorating gadgets, to countertop electric bakers.
It’s a cross-merchandiser’s dream.
Face it, when reality TV has multiple shows dedicated to cupcakes, why fight when you can join?
The Sweet Spot
Some might still see a fad and the potential for warehouses full of unwanted cupcake stuff when the consumer moves on to the next big thing. A fad to some, nonetheless, can be a payday to others.
Scrape off the apparent novelty on the surface of the cupcake craze, though, and you’ll see the roots of the category’s surge actually run deeper, maybe deep enough to sustain the pace of sales growth over a longer term.
Look closer at the reasons for the cupcake surge and you’ll also see the sweet spot for successful housewares product development, marketing and merchandising to today’s consumers, regardless of the category.
The activities of baking, decorating and serving cupcakes hit on many of the key lifestyle attributes desired by consumers worn by economic uncertainty.
They invite families to spend time together. They inspire do-it-yourself creativity. They encourage personalization. They please the senses. They relax. They entertain. They save money. And they do it all easily.
For retailers, this means the potential for steady add-on sales, which means the potential for more traffic.
Think about it. Some of today’s most vibrant housewares categories tap into similar cravings for affordable indulgence. Coffee and tea products. Wine accessories and barware. Soda makers.
So, you can dismiss the cupcake craze as a marketing shooting star. Or you can embrace the category’s boom as a compelling example of why housewares serves up many of the ingredients needed to engage consumers while they remain careful with their discretionary spending.
Will cupcakes stay as hot as they are now? Probably not. But they are a tasty reminder of how this business has a knack for taking basic categories and making them seem special all over again.
What a treat.
Dissecting what Ron Johnson got wrong during his brief, calamitous term at the helm of J.C. Penney is sure to be the focal point of retail strategy and tactics lessons for years to come. But Penney’s future could still hinge to some extent on what he got right.