COLOR TO DAZZLE SMALL APPLIANCES

CHICAGO -- The future of everyday kitchen appliances and accessories has a rosy hue.The color trend in kitchen gadgets and electrics that has been on the horizon for a few years is finally taking hold with consumers as part of a larger drive toward higher design requirements, according to retailers, consumers and experts at the International Home & Housewares show here last month."Consumers are starting

CHICAGO -- The future of everyday kitchen appliances and accessories has a rosy hue.

The color trend in kitchen gadgets and electrics that has been on the horizon for a few years is finally taking hold with consumers as part of a larger drive toward higher design requirements, according to retailers, consumers and experts at the International Home & Housewares show here last month.

"Consumers are starting to buy new colors," said Dan O'Rourke, culinary and general merchandise category manager, Lund Food Holdings, Edina, Minn. While the core colors are still the best sellers, infusing new palettes into the product mix brings the whole category up, he said.

"I'm seeing a lot of vendors really coordinate their colors," O'Rourke said.

In the past, manufacturers had fallen for brighter hues, starting with brands like Kitchen Aid that introduced color to its mixers awhile ago. However, the trend hadn't found its way into the average kitchen. With the introduction this year of an expanded breadth of products that incorporate color, the trend has now arrived, sources said.

Consumer panelists speaking at the show about the products they saw raved about the infusion of color into everyday items like toasters and coffee makers, and silicon products like oven mitts and brushes, in what they called "fun colors," which would allow them to establish a theme in their kitchen.

"The consumer wasn't embracing color," said A.J. Riedel, senior partner of Riedel Marketing Group, Phoenix, who organized the International Housewares Association's new Home Trend Influentials Council, also known as HIPsters. "The big news this year is that will change. The HIPsters went nuts over the new colors and said they will buy them."

This year, bright color palettes were seen all over the show floor in items ranging from the everyday to products for specialized entertaining. Expanding color offerings found their way into barware, tableware and silverware, in addition to many different small appliances.

Exhibitors at this year's show showed a real "flowering of design," said Perry Reynolds, vice president of marketing and trade relations, IHA.

"Design and color are two elements used to distinguish products," he said.

"Design, design, design. Functionality is good, but design is great," said Diane Garber, president, In Sight Communications, Buffalo Grove, Ill., commenting on the show.

Retailers agreed, noting that customers may not want to pay a premium price, but they still want housewares items to be attractive.

"People want to feel like they are getting value for their money," said O'Rourke. With a higher design level in everyday items, they can achieve that, he added.