A South Korean small appliance manufacturer, Cuckoo Electronics, is setting its sights on the American market for kitchen electrics and home environment appliances.
Globally, Cuckoo Electronics is a force to be reckoned with, topping the $1 billion mark in worldwide sales last year. The company has been the number one rice cooker brand in South Korea for more than a decade with an estimated 74% market share. The company was originally founded in 1978 as Sungkwang Electronics, and formally changed its name in 2002 to take advantage of its major brand recognition throughout the Asian market.
Cuckoo Electronics America launched in 2016 as an independent business entity and has quickly moved to establish a presence in the small appliance market. The U.S. executive team includes Michael Yi, director of operations; Matt Medlock, director of sales and marketing for North and South America; and Seulki Lee, marketing associate.
“We are a separate company here in the U.S. but we have close ties to the Korean company, which manufacturers about 95% of the products we sell in the American market,” said Medlock, who was previously with Zojirushi.
“The brand is a major player in the rice cooker and kitchen electrics market in South Korea, Malaysia, Japan and China,” Medlock said. “Cuckoo entered the U.S. market three years ago, and has been growing exponentially since then. We are having great success with a wide range of our kitchen appliances, and are developing a number of new items that will launch later this year. We also are expanding into pet products and home environment items.”
Cuckoo’s dominance in the rice cooker market made it a logical starting point for the American market. However, the brand has expanded rapidly into other small appliances, including multi-cookers, air fryers, bread machines and water purifiers. A new line of air purifiers will launch this fall.
“Currently about 80% of our business is in kitchen appliances, but we are placing major emphasis on the air purifier category,” Lee pointed out. “We believe there is very good growth potential in the home environment category.”
Retail prices on the company’s small appliances range from $50 to $650, with the majority of kitchen items priced at $100 and under. Some of the more elaborate cookers retail up to $250, and air purifiers are expected to range from $100 to $500 at retail.