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Robinson Sets Strategic Initiatives For Oneida Flatware Programs

Monday November 12th, 2012 - 1:06PM

NEW YORK— Robinson Home Products had a strong focus on its Oneida flatware business at the New York Tabletop Market last month, unveiling strategic ways to strengthen both its housewares and fine flatware set business, and to expand its popular housewares carded flatware program for retailers.
One of Robinson’s focuses was on reinvigorating Oneida’s 65-piece expanded set fine flatware business, and it featured four new patterns and a packaging redesign. While some brides register for five-piece place settings for their formal pattern, some also look for a more casual, everyday pattern.
“The strategy is to present [Oneida’s fine set business] more as a fine quality everyday product. It’s still the 18/10 material, but [patterns are] a little more simple in style,” said Ross Patterson, business director, tabletop for Robinson Home Products. Oneida’s current set packaging is closely linked to its five-piece place setting packaging, which will remain the same, a formal black box.
The new packaging is less austere and features an eye catching swirl design on the front, with the words “Everyday Elegance” printed below the Oneida brand. The redesign also allows the consumer to touch the product and assess its quality, by showcasing a full five-piece place setting in the window of the box. Its current boxes have either no window or a small window with one or two pieces on display through it, he explained.
Recently debuted at the Tabletop Market, Oneida’s Procession features a beaded band at the tip reminiscent of a pavé diamond wedding band. It has a modern design with a mirror finish. Colossus, also in a mirror finish, has clean lines on the handle that give sculptural shape to a flare at the tip, where a raised inset provides architectural detail. Mica’s design is reminiscent of a stained glass window, and has a linear geometric pattern achieved with a bead blast technique. Edessa is a European-inspired clean modern pattern with an all-over brushed finish. All of these fine 65-piece sets retail at $179.99.
In Oneida housewares flatware, Robinson showed two new tiers in its 45-piece set business; previously the brand had focused on two pricepoints, $79.99 and $99.99. The two new pricepoints added to the assortment were $89.99 and $109.99, created in part due to price challenges and an increase in the cost of imported goods.
The highest tier was implemented earlier this year at retail and it “has not been a barrier for the consumer,” said Patterson. In fact, one of the brand’s best selling patterns at the department store level, Voss, a five-millimeter gauge, is at this level. It was previously at $99.99. “We did not want to cut quality or weight back in order to hit a lower pricepoint. I think if you picked up this product and felt the weight and quality . . . people are reacting to that as a factor and they are understanding that this product will have a higher ticket due to the nature of it,” he added.
The price levels feature increasingly heavier gauges or more intricate details. Zoya, a new 4-4.5 mm gauge pattern introduced at this new price-tier of $109.99, features bold quilting that echoes the pattern of feminine lace, creating an ornamental design overlaid on clean, modern lines. The higher pricepoint allows for the pattern detailing to wrap around the back of the flatware as well.
“Everyone knows there has been migration [to housewares flatware]. The fine business has been challenged,” said Patterson. “We feel that that shouldn’t be a limitation. The material is 18/10 but we can still do a great pattern. This new tier [$109.99] has allowed us to experiment,” he said.
At the market, Avelina, a decorative scrollwork pattern, debuted at the $99.99 tier, as did Chef’s Table, formerly only available in open stock; Everdine, a sculptured shape with clean, fluid lines and a gently brushed finish, debuted in the $89.99 tier; and Liola, with its bead blasted design highlighted by the pattern of rolling surf and Reyna, a hammered pattern, debuted at the $79.99 opening pricepoint.
Also at the housewares level, Robinson has expanded Oneida’s carded flatware program, which has attracted a new consumer, “someone who is looking for replacements or looking to add on to something they already own. It is more of an impulse business. It catches your eye: ‘I could really use that.’” In contrast, a set is more of a “considered purchase,” whether you are renovating your kitchen or have a “life event” such as a wedding, Patterson explained.
Carded programs present an alternative to open stock flatware; many retailers who have carried the latter expressed theft concerns and that merchandising it was hard to manage, he said, notwithstanding that they were significantly small ticket items. The Oneida carded program offers sets of six for $9.99 retail, in basic shapes and designs that can be customized for each retailer. It has worked well in department and specialty store housewares departments, he said, and high-end grocery stores have also shown interest in the program.
New Oneida carded introductions, aimed not only for self-purchase but also for the gift giver, he said, included iced teaspoons, cocktail spoons, cocktail forks and spreaders, and a two-piece salad set. The tabletop market highlighted its Aptitude pattern.

—Lisa Cowley