CHICAGO— Corelle Brands has arrived at the International Home + Housewares Show, here. The new corporate identity of the company formerly known as World Kitchen has made its debut and with it a new logo, new CEO and several new products from its portfolio of housewares brands such as Corelle, Pyrex and CorningWare, among others.
The Corelle Brands name change comes just months after Cornell Capital, a private equity firm, acquired the company. It was also the first major announcement made by Kenneth Wilkes, the company’s new CEO, who took the helm late last year following the retirement of longtime CEO Carl Warschausky.
Prior to the show, HOMEWORLD BUSINESS® spoke with Wilkes about Corelle Brands, what the change means for the company and just where it is headed in 2018 and beyond.
“It really is a new day for the company. New name, new owner, new CEO, new key members of our management team— all of which align with our philosophy around growing one of our core brands, Corelle. And that is really what the change is all about, making the company more easily recognizable with of one of our leading brands,” Wilkes said.
And why Corelle Brands? “There’s no question, the Corelle brand is a really strong iconic brand that brings great confidence among consumers and has a strong market share here, in the U.S., as well as in Asia,” said Wilkes.
The Corelle brand of dinnerware and tabletop, originally known as Corning Glass Works, was first introduced in 1970, and has remained a leading, recognizable brand among consumers. However, as Wilkes pointed out, the industry is facing a new generation of consumers who are shopping a little differently than their parents and generations before them. For today’s shopper it has become critical for longtime brands, such as Corelle, to almost reintroduce themselves to consumers and take the time to familiarize them with just why the company has been a top brand for so many decades.
“We feel strongly that brands matter. Consumers are still drawn to brands,” said Wilkes.
He explained that the Corelle brand of tableware is used in over 80% of U.S. households and has an approximate 75% brand awareness with the U.S. consumer. Pyrex, he added, has a 97% brand awareness.
“Brands matter and they matter for a reason. We are well-known by the American consumer. By naming the company Corelle Brands, we are certainly acknowledging the strength of the Corelle brand and plan to continue the strength and growth of our other brands,” he said.
Wilkes noted that the company sees many growth opportunities to leverage and build off of those leading market share positions for Corelle, Pyrex, as well as CorningWare, Snapware and Chicago Cutlery. This especially holds true in the Asia-Pacific region, where Corelle Brands has eyed a strong path of growth trajectory in the near future, thanks to the familiarity and experience in that region of Cornell Capital, its new owners.
“We acknowledge that our company and our owners have a significant amount of experience in the Asia theater and we certainly will build on those skills in Asia,” he said. “We bring products to consumers around the world, and all of our brands have appeal and active sales internationally.”
As for how Corelle Brands plans to achieve these goals, one of the first initiatives the company will be taking is something it calls an integrated 360-degree customer experience.
“We plan to continue market differentiation with our consumer relevant product lines by continuing to build on quality and innovation. We want to reach new audiences and therefore plan to leverage digital marketing efforts and various social platforms that appeal to Millennials with an emphasis on home cooking and hosting,” he said.
For example, the company, via the Pyrex brand of bakeware and kitchenware, has had a longtime relationship with Martha Stewart and her “Martha Bakes” television series on PBS. The partnership often results in Stewart featuring Pyrex products both on the program as well as on newer forms of entertainment such as her recent Facebook Live episodes.
Partnerships such as this reflect Corelle Brands’ belief that the demographics and activities of the younger generation are consistent with and support growth of all of its product categories. The company is committed to new digital transformations in the coming months and building out initiatives such as being a purchase channel for consumers.
“Corelle Brands is reinforcing our commitment to innovation and appealing products to the customer. We have a supportive owner that has a strong creative bandwidth of skills and expertise. We are perfectly aligned with them in investing in both product growth and innovation, but also in building our distribution channels here and in regions around the world,” Wilkes said.