Supermarkets Prime Cookware For Sales Growth Potential

NEW YORK— When it comes to gaining market share in cookware retail channels, the Cookware Manufacturer’s Association (CMA) has projected that supermarkets are a key sector to watch. The supermarket distribution channel seems to be where cookware and bakeware segment are primed to obtain more dollar sales.

Industry experts agree, projecting a range of 3% to 6% growth throughout the channel during the next year if it continues to offer customers a more unique, broad and durable selection of cookware products.

Supermarkets are able to offer unique cross-merchandising opportunities for cookware products ranging from fry pans to microwave cookware. According to one cookware vendor, when hardlines such as cookware, bakeware and microwave items are merchandised in and amongst the food— for example, a microwave egg cooker alongside fresh eggs, or bacon alongside microwave bacon cookers— the sales lift is substantial.

Additionally, in the past, supermarkets would tend to stock goods that weren’t always the best quality and attach convenience pricing to them. Now, as consumer taste and demands are changing, the channel is looking to bring higher-quality products to their cookware and bakeware assortments.

As supermarket chains begin adding new products to the mix, it presents the channel with opportunities to take these categories to the next level, said Victoria Rodriguez, marketing director of IMUSA, a subsidiary of Groupe SEB, as the ability of the channel to be flexible with merchandising is especially rewarding during the holidays and other key seasons.

“Today’s supermarket customer is not only shopping ingredients for their daily cooking, but also looking to solve their entertaining needs. The supermarket channel offers countless cross merchandising opportunities, live cooking demonstrations, and an impulse convenience to buy cookware,” she said. “It’s a promotion driven environment, with seasonally themed spaces ideal for merchandising food and cookware together.”

Patrick O’Connor, president of Range Kleen, added that in order for there to be continued growth of cookware and bakeware in the supermarket channel, chains will have to evolve their merchandising strategy to meet consumer demand.

“Enhanced merchandising strategy and execution will allow for supermarkets to set themselves apart from the competition via better options. An enhanced merchandising strategy will allow the supermarkets to move away from offering the same inexpensive cookware as its competitors and introduce a better value equation through a mix of quality and brands to its consumers, allowing them to trade up if they desire,” he said.

Supermarket chains, as well, are finding ways to support the category in new ways. One of these chains, according to Jennifer Dalquist, evp/president, sales and marketing, Nordic Ware, is Publix. She noted that the company has made a concerted effort to connect its in-store demonstration kitchens back to the items and foods selling in the store. Publix presents products that go beyond just the grocery store basics consumers expect to find, she said.

“The breadth of housewares assortment across all aisles of the store saves you the hassle of having to run to another shop to buy what you need. Additionally, Publix offers cooking schools in certain upscale market stores, which not only inspire shoppers to try new cooking styles and foods, but further endear them to the Publix brand and lifestyle,” she noted.

Amazon’s Whole Foods, too, is making a more conscious effort to be involved in the housewares side of the market, including cookware and bakeware. The company recently opened a new housewares-focused store-within-a-store concept called Plant & Plate in its Bridgewater, NJ-based store (see story, page 40).

“We curated the selection of Plant & Plate with our customers’ home in mind. Bringing in new items that are trending like handmade pottery, copper accessories and seasonal home décor pieces, we are adding another layer to our customer’s shopping experience,” said Genevieve Monette, whole body coordinator for the northeast region, Whole Foods.