Faced with changing consumer preferences and driven by the desire for more casual, pared down dinnerware options, established tabletop brands such as Lenox are facing a critical crossroads where change has become necessary.
Under the leadership of CEO Mads Ryder, Lenox is testing the waters with innovative, fresh concepts, such as the new Luna collection.
Luna is a limited run nesting collection of dinnerware that offers consumers several
flexible, mix-and-match options in a compact set. It pairs the heritage of Lenox’s fine
dining patterns with glazing and carvings, with of-the-moment stoneware that ultimately gives consumers a flexible alternative to the larger dining sets of yesteryear.
NOUVEAU recently spoke with Ryder to get his perspective on the tabletop
category, what steps the category needs to take to further evolve and how
Lenox is meshing its heritage with the new collections it is bringing to market.
NOUVEAU: Lenox has been working to update the brand, infusing it with innovation to meet the lifestyles of today’s consumers. Can you explain your approach?
Mads Ryder: At Lenox, we are still making formal dinnerware, but what we are doing right now is to take action in regard to what is happening in the market. The entire industry has been slow to change because we continue to believe that fine and casual exists, we believe that people still want to have flatware sets of 106 pieces but it is not how people are living today. We have lacked to understand that consumers have a different taste, live their life differently and shop differently. So what we are doing is a transition of product innovation and distribution.
N: You recently unveiled the brand’s newest endeavor, Luna, which is inspired by the idea of “compact living.” Can you discuss how Luna is representative of where Lenox is headed next?
MR: With Luna, what is relevant for us in this 130-piece collection is to show consumers that we have a history and we can also do dinnerware that is not flat and boring. They want a story that is tied to something. It is important for the consumer to have something that they can dress up and down. You will see more of this with the additional collections that will come out in 2020.
N: You are a firm believer in editing and narrowing down the number of SKUs at Lenox and making the portfolio a tightly curated one. How are your customers and consumers responding to this change?
MR: Retailers have already reacted. Some of our lines that we are cutting out, there haven’t been a lot of sales. However, most of the lines we discontinued there have been no new consumers. So we are sitting with a lot of collections, that individually are very nice but they belonged to the past and sold in a narrow window and it is over and done with. The industry doesn’t have a habit of discontinuing patterns.
N: You have commented on plans to offer consumers less composed sets, less commitment and more open stock pieces to
suit their needs for flexibility.
How are you working with retailers
to support this?
MR: While our retail partners understand and support the research we have done and shared with them, in a world where retailers need to
deliver every month and every quarter, a transitioning is just more risky because it is easier to go for revenue and discount even deeper. The only way out of this for us and our customers is basically to put some new nice products on the market. Once you launch something that has not been seen before and something extraordinary, once you see the right thing out there, they will know how to sell it. So we just have to bombard the market with new and exciting and I am pretty sure our customers will open their mind.
N: What’s one important takeaway you have learned from the tabletop industry here in the U.S.?
MR: Tabletop is insulated, it does not have a lot of outsiders from other industries, and we are bad in taking learnings from other industries, which makes it easy to be a startup company here and disrupt. It becomes more difficult for more established companies to change because we need to take care of old and loyal and new and deliver numbers, but I do see a few competitors who look at other industries for ideas.
N: As you continue to revamp Lenox, how is the company meshing its past with its new collections?
MR: It is very important we find that balance between new and old stuff, we don’t want to run away from our legacy. We have a lot of nice patterns and a lot of nice lines in the past that we can rejuvenate by being creative. Right now, it’s more a question about how focused we are when we go through