Instant Pot Cooking Up New Growth Opportunities

 KANATA, ONTARIO, CANADA— Eight years after Instant Pot debuted its first multi-cooker, the company continues to grow its single-pot cooking appliance assortment while also expanding the brand into other small kitchen electrics categories such as sous vide.

Among the products the company showcased at the recent International Home + Housewares Show in Chicago was its Accu Slim sous vide immersion circulator, a second generation unit that follows Instant Pot’s initial sous vide tool, which launched in 2016.

“We see sous vide as a major cooking trend as people want to make gourmet food at home,” Robert Wang, CEO of Instant Pot, told HOMEWORLD BUSINESS®. “Our new sous vide is much slimmer than our first unit. We received feedback from consumers that they wanted a smaller unit.”

While bringing sous vide-style cooking to the home kitchen has been much talked about in recent years, kitchen electrics suppliers have largely taken a cautious approach with sous vide. 

However, at the 2018 Home + Housewares Show, several suppliers showcased expanded sous vide assortments, with most offering items equipped with smart home technology. In fact, Instant Pot at the Chicago show presented its new Max multi-cooker, which features touchscreen technology and also offers sous vide capability.

According to Wang, the Max unit is designed to reach 15-PSI, which is higher than the typical 12-PSI found on the typical electric pressure cooker. It also reaches temperatures high enough to kill bacteria during the cooking process and offers several features including canning, sauté/brown, steam and pressure-cooking, he said.

In terms of the company’s new product pipeline, Wang said the company continually reviews its assortment and feedback received from consumers through social media and on leading e-commerce retailers in an effort to identify pain points and upgrade items.

“Consumers are very willing to give feedback,” he said. “The more they are unhappy with a product the more they are outspoken. But we learn a lot from feedback and I make sure to read negative feedback. It’s a great place to get inspiration for future products.”

Among the suggestions Instant Pot has received from consumers is the ability to interact with the unit when they are not at home, and to better manage the keep warm setting included on all units. 

“We first designed the units so that after the pressure cooking program was finished the keep warm setting would kick in,” Wang said. “We had a number of consumers that said they did not want that feature. They now have the options to select the keep warm function after pressure cooking.”

Earlier this year, Wang and Instant Pot were dealing with negative consumer feedback when the company’s Gem 65 8-in-1 multi-cooker was recalled. According to the official recall notice from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, Instant Pot received 107 reports of the unit overheating, with five resulting in minor property damage. No injuries were reported. 

A total of approximately 104,000 units were involved in the recall, which were sold at Walmart and from August 2017 through January 2018 and priced at $80. 

Wang told HomeWorld that the issue has been resolved, as all units have been taken off the market and replaced with new multi-cookers that have a design change said to eliminate the overheating issue.

As he looks at ahead at the future of Instant Pot, Wang said he sees growth opportunities for the brand within the multi-cooker segment and also within other segments of the small kitchen electrics business. While the sous vide units were the first for the company outside of multi-cookers, additional products may be in the offing. 

While declining to offer specifics on future product development efforts, Wang does feel there are opportunities for newness within legacy product categories such as slow cookers, toasters and toaster ovens. 

“Most things in the kitchen were invented 30 to 40 years ago,” he said. “Some of these products are in need of refreshment and we have been looking at that but cannot share details at this time.”