The August 20 edition of HOMEWORLD BUSINESS® revealed the 13th annual “Players,” people to watch in housewares during the next 12 months.
Selected by HomeWorld Business editors, the Players represent a cross section of a diverse housewares business— from established to newly installed company leaders; from large to small operations, from big-box to specialty retailers; from trade show managers to celebrity endorsers.
The HomeWorld Players are in the spotlight not only for how they might impact their respective organizations in the coming months, but also for how they might impact the overall housewares business.
Robert Wang, Instant Pot, CEO
PLAYER’S CREDENTIALS: Robert Wang has seen Instant Pot continue to gain market share at retail and awareness with consumers over the past several years as his company and its assortment of one-pot countertop multi-cookers have been a leader in simplifying how consumers cook a variety of meals at home. Today, Instant Pot is part of the product assortment at a host of retailers, recently had its first appearance on HSN and during this year’s Amazon Prime Day was the top-selling item in the U.S. with some 300,000 units sold during the 36-hour promotion.
WHAT TO WATCH: The big question many are asking regarding Instant Pot is, “what’s next?” The company has enjoyed success with its multi-cooker line, but as is always the case with the fickle merchant and consumer alike, they are both constantly on the hunt for the next item or items that will help make the daily chore of cooking less of one.
One area that the Kanata, Ontario, Canada-based company has expanded into over the past two years is the sous vide segment. Still a small part of the kitchen electrics segment in the U.S., there has been greater product development in the category in 2018, but most consumers have yet to warm to the idea of sous vide-style cooking.
In a recent interview with HOMEWORLD BUSINESS®, Wang noted that consumer feedback played a major role in his company’s product development efforts. After debuting its initial sous vide unit in 2016, the company’s second unit was slimmer than its first.
“We received feedback from consumers that they wanted a smaller unit,” he said.
PERSPECTIVE: In his previous interview with HomeWorld, Wang said he sees growth opportunities within the multi-cooker segment, but also within other segments of the small kitchen electrics business. While he did not reveal specifics on what is in the company’s product pipeline, he did reference segments such as slow cookers, toaster and toaster ovens.
“Most things in the kitchen were invented 30 to 40 years ago,” he said. “Some of these product are in need of refreshment and we have been looking at that.”
2019 HomeWorld Business Players (click on name for profile):
- Heshy Biegeleisen, Gourmia
- David Whitley, True Brands
- Marvin Ellison, Lowe’s
- Walter Lehneis, Groupe SEB USA
- Henry Liu, Cangshan Cutlery Company
- Darbie Angell, Darbie Angell
- Kevin Blossom, Spectrum Brands
- Mike Evans, Bush Industries
- Tom Neth, ThemoServ
- Jayme Smaldone, Mighty Mug
- Robert Wang, Instant Pot
- Ryan Gilchrist, Wayfair
- Davide Sereni, Luigi Bormioli/Bormioli Rocco
- Kristi Forbes, Forty One Madison
- Jean-Philippe Peugeot, Peugeot Saveurs North America
- Michelle Gass, Kohl’s
- Bob Maricich, International Market Centers
- Lance Hood, Progressive International
- Kenneth Wilkes, Corelle Brands