Tom Mirabile, senior vice president, global trend & design, for Lifetime Brands, which markets the Pedrini and Farberware lines to supermarkets, moderated a panel discussion Monday morning on consumer and lifestyle trends that will propel the housewares industry.
The session — “Top Trends for 2012: Thriving in the New Age of Anti-Consumerism,” drew a large crowd of housewares attendees. They were presented with statistics on what is driving Gen X, Gen Y, Millennials and the Boomers to spend on housewares these days.
The recession has impacted how each of these consumer segments are responding to consumption where value has become more important than ever. As Mirablile and panelists pointed out, today’s value equation goes well beyond price.
I spoke to Mirabile after the session at the Lifetime booth at the Pedrini display where color has become one element of value that supermarkets can now take advantage of in their houswares sets.
New this fall will be Pedrini kitchen gadgets and cookware in what Mirabile described as “bright” colors or secondary and tertiary sophisticated colors often seen at department or specialty housewares stores.
Colors in the Pedrini line appropriately evoke fruit flavors — blueberry (teal), cherry (fuchsia), orange (mineralized orange), apple (mosey yellow), fig, and dewberry. These bright colors will dominate for the next 12 to 18 months, said Mirabile.
“Color has become like the great unifier,” said Mirabile. “Sophisticated colors wound up at the high end [of retail] and you would would see the grocery channel and other more price-sensitive retailers carry colors that were less dynamic and more primary. If they went to colors, they went to royal blue or maybe red as that has became more of a kitchen staple. But you wouldn’t see these [bright] colors [in products] at entry level price points.”
Pedrini began as a brand for specialty retailers. Lifetime opened the brand to the grocery channel to market, and it took off. “If the grocery industry is ready for Italian design like Pedrini then it is ready for color to be more sophisticated too,” Mirabile told me.
The color is used to unify disparate materials such as a clear acrylic handle with a silicone head on a ladle. The silicone head is more flexible and can take the heat of a frying pan.
“You have a translucent ladle, but the transparent handle looks rich,beautiful and vibrant. It looks like a really expensive piece, but has the functionality of a ladle head that is durable and has a lot of flexibility,” Mirabile noted.
He added the use of multiple materials is the language of high end. With the Pedrini line in new bright colors, available at retail this fall, the grocery channel will have the opportunity to carry something that one might see in a department store, and the new color palette of the line adds additional value for the shopper.
With limited space for storage, consumers want decorative designs and colors in their cookware to put on the stove.
Another consumer trend that lends itself to color/design is entertaining at home.
“Consumers are asking for more color in functional objects. Ten years ago, the kitchen space was functional. You made something and wanted it done before people came over. Now more than half of consumers who entertain at home make cooking part of the interaction. Open kitchen space has made cooking more social. That means people want more decorative value out of their kitchen gadgets and cookware.”