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According to some recent GfK figures (MAT May 2014), the overall food preparation category has seen a 4% lift in both volume and value. Liquidisers are the fastest growing segment with a 47% increase in sales units and 52% in sales value, while choppers declined by 10% in volume but saw a 15% increase in value.
Set these positives against some concern over increased competition and low-end, entry level products in food preparation and you can see why many brands are working hard at highlighting the quality products that their companies bring to the market. As one supplier said: “we could all get cheap products a dime a dozen but that damages our brand.”
TAKING STOCK OF THE CATEGORIES
Gauging the market in major appliances, Rudi Niemoeller, Category Manager for Food & Beverage Preparation at Miele ANZ, says the brand is seeing growth at the top end, even with increased competition from the value end of the market.
“With the plethora of cooking brands competing for the consumer dollar, there are increasing signs of polarisation in the New Zealand market. At the lower end of the price and quality scale, some brands appear to be scrambling to grow volume at the expense of value and margin erosion.”
When it comes to food prep and SDAs, even with the enticing presence of low-end products, consumers are savvier than ever and are looking for real and lasting value. DéLonghi’s Reece Ford sees a number of cheap products on the market but believes this gives suppliers the chance to work with retailers to ensure that the long-term outlook the company has is embraced by retailers and consumers alike.
“When we’re presenting to our retailers, we give them tools to help them understand what it is we’ve done and pass it on to consumers. We’ve done a lot of research to see what people want from us.”
And DéLonghi for one is straying out of the mosh pit: “Why would we undercut ourselves with lower end product?”
Sunbeam’s National Sales & Marketing Manager, Cliff Carr, is another to say that, while the food prep market has been developing strongly and has continued to deliver good or reasonable volume growth, there is pressure on price points.
Still, Carr has his eyes on the prize and, here as elsewhere, there is reason for optimism thanks to the work being put in: “You have to say at some point the volume is going to catch up and we will start to see a bit of decay there.
"But retailers and suppliers alike are putting an increased focus back into the value of the category. Trying to return a bit of value for each sale is where the prize is.”
MENS’ KITCHEN RULES?
Traditionally, food preparation and cooking appliances have been aimed at female demographics. This trend is showing few signs of wavering as of yet.
But, with the proliferation of high-profile celebrity chefs and cooking television shows, more and more men can be found in the kitchen cooking.
Which means targeting male consumers will be front of mind for savvy brands going forward. Sunbeam’s Cliff Carr for one feels that the manner in which some brands have been speaking to consumers has been quite one dimensional and focused on the female side of the market.
“We see a very strong opportunity to make people stop and think about the performance and the manliness and coolness of the product from a guy’s perspective and get them involved in the purchase.”
Carr points to the male tendency to be product performance-orientated and if suppliers and – if retailers can trade up on this aspect – it will really add value to the category.
“If you look at My Kitchen Rules currently, there is only one all-male pairing on it. But they are leading the charge and guys are looking at it and thinking ‘I could do that’. There is a competitive aspect to it, and we need to focus on men’s insatiable thirst to have a better toy.”
Reece Ford at DéLonghi is another that sees the male aspect of the market growing: “Men are cooking more and more – you look at those cooking shows and men are in every one and it’s definitely influential.”
Ford adds that cooking has become something the entire family is engaging with: “There are more people looking to do things at home rather than spending money elsewhere, homemade goods for instance. If you look at the bigger picture and the economics of things, it makes sense to purchase a higher quality item.”
PROMOTION IS POSITIVE
Cooking appliances have always lent themselves to strong promotional activity and this will continue moving forward. This is something that Miele’s Rudi Niemoeller points towards when speaking about the company’s planned promotional activities.
“Miele has planned a range of seasonal campaign activities which are aimed at rewarding consumers and supporting retailers for selecting complete ‘single-brand’ Miele packages. This will further be supported by dedicated marketing activities and targeted demonstrations in the Miele Centre Auckland, aimed at driving more consumers into the store and ultimately leading them to resist the temptation to compromise on a lesser product offering.”
That’s major appliances, but what about food prep products? The aforementioned My Kitchen Rules TV programme has proved to be a runaway success since it first aired on television here (see sidebar on the previous page) and the Australian programme has born particular fruit for Breville.
Managing Director Brett O’Neill says this has been a very successful venture for Breville: “We are the exclusive small appliance brand on My Kitchen Rules Australia currently screening on TV2. Breville premium food preparation products are used by all MKR contestants and other Breville food preparation products will feature product sponsorship to be announced soon.”
Other highly televised personalities continue to be used in leveraging the Breville brand: “Breville will also maximise its partnership with global brand ambassador Heston Blumenthal in the coming year with key initiatives to promote its brand and premium designed appliances,” adds Brett O’Neill.
Parex Sales & Marketing Manager, Barnaby Thompson, is another that has experience dealing with well-known names to help promote the company’s brands. The company’s InSinkErator brand has featured well-known comedian Leigh Hart in a new campaign as well as high profile, highly regarded chef, Simon Gault, promoting the Schweigen range hoods and the brand’s Silent Kitchen campaign.
“We really want to invest in our brands. Leigh Hart is a great brand ambassador for the InSinkErator and he brings a bit of personality into the mix. Simon Gault is our representative for Schweigen – everyone knows him – he’s a fantastic person to have on board and he loves the range.”
SHOWING OFF AT THE FOOD SHOW
In major appliances and food preparation products nothing beats showing the consumer the product works, face to face. As covered in our look at the 2014 Auckland Food Show (see sidebar below), several of the suppliers regularly featured in Wares were exhibiting at the show.
One of these was DéLonghi. Reece Ford feels that shows such as this, and the upcoming Taste of Auckland (see sidebar below) are important: “They let us get in touch with our consumers,” he says.
“We need to stay relevant and talk to the right people and stay on top of new things so we’re not kicking the same tyres. We’re doing more gluten-free centred things, babies’ shows to show what our new blenders can do to help new mums. We’ll be in Taste of Auckland later in the year too. They are great ways to keep in touch with our consumers.”
Also at the Food Show, slap bang in front of the main entrance, was Sunbeam and whilst the overall visitor numbers were down on last year, Cliff Carr feels it was “a very good showcase event” and it was important to interact with both consumers and retailers.
HOW TO REMAIN RELEVANT
With increased competition, staying at the top of the consumer’s mind is imperative, so factors such as advertising and consumer promotional activity are increasingly important. This in turn is beneficial for retailers as these products tend to carry greater gross margin dollars than other products available in store.
That’s been the case for many a year but now there are moves afoot to break the promotional mould in some respects and shake things up a bit.
“We are trying to find new and disruptive ways to highlight to the consumer that they should be investing in high quality food preparation products and we are looking to do that by looking at ways it hasn’t been done before. We’re looking to attract the consumer’s attention to the category in ways that hasn’t been done before,” says Sunbeam’s Cliff Carr.
“When you think about it, you can spend $800-1,000 on a food mixer or you can spend the same on a TV – it is a big investment. The big difference from a retailer’s perspective is that $800-1000 on a TV is not going to return a great deal of gross margin dollars but the same on a food mixer banks some cash!”
Parex’s Barnaby Thompson also says staying relevant to the retailer is important for the company’s products. The InSinkErator, hot taps and Schweigen rangehoods that Parex promotes all fall into the ‘silent kitchen’ trend that is growing, he says.
Thompson suggests that retailers use a cooking/package checklist, a process that the sales person should be using to tick off the main items like ovens, fridges, dishwashers cooktops as well as other products that can add value – like hot water taps, waste disposal or a rangehood.
STYLE, AS WELL AS SUBSTANCE
The kitchen has become the destination area in many Kiwi homes. Open plan kitchens intended for hosting guests and entertaining are very much the norm in households. Has this reflected on the attitudes of suppliers, retailers and consumers in the market? The general consensus is a resounding “yes”.
Reece Ford says this has hugely influenced the approach DéLonghi is taking to upcoming lines. The company has R&D people committed solely to studying colours, trends and styles.
“As a lot of products are now staying on the bench, or in the eye of the consumer, style is more important than ever. Kitchens are now open and exposed, whereas before they were in cupboards. So fashion is a huge thing for us.”
In terms of major appliances, Rudi Niemoeller at Miele is another to confirm the importance of style: “Homemakers are demanding that the total kitchen fitout looks stylish with all appliances complementing each other.”
So interest in cooking is high and there is growth to be had – if you stay out of the value end of the market. And there is more to come.
With the New Zealand version of My Kitchen Rules set to take over our televisions, and the renovation market by all accounts providing growing and significant incentive to get behind cooking and food preparation, these categories are offering almost unparalleled opportunity.
WHAT WAS COOKING AT THE FOOD SHOW?
Once again, like last year, as we were prepping this edition, The Food Show was on at Auckland’s ASB Showgrounds. Numbers were slightly down on last year with 32,018 visitors coming to this year’s event.
From our visits with suppliers that were displaying there – DéLonghi, Nespresso, Sunbeam, Whirlpool among others – the big takeaways from the show and relevant to cooking and food prep is the importance of interaction with end users. The show offers suppliers the chance to get messages direct to the consumer in a fun setting.
Theatrics were very evident at many stands, with many exhibitors having microphoned-up live features & benefits-style demos and taste tests to visitors.
Two particular interactive and theatrical displays were the Whirlpool Cooking Theatre and the Your Nespresso Moment Discovery Session, the former featuring names like Josh Emett, Peter Gordon, Simon Gault, Nadia Lim, Chelsea Winter, Annabelle White, Karena & Kasey Bird, Ray McVinnie, Julie Le Clerc and Sachie Nomura.
The Your Nespresso Moment Discovery Session was more hands-on, the aim being to show consumers how to use the Nespresso machines and also suggesting some gluten and dairy free recipes that the machines can be used to make.
NATIONAL KITCHEN AND BATHROOM ASSOCIATION AWARDS
August saw the top kitchen prize in the 31st annual National Kitchen & Bathroom Association Awards being taken out by Wanaka’s Melanie Craig of Melanie Craig Design (see photo).
The judges commented on the excellent use of materials in the kitchen, which include glass, American oak veneer, concrete block, quartz and stainless steel.
The event attracts significant public interest and online voting for the People’s Choice Award for received nearly 3,000 votes. In this category, Margaret Young, of Margaret Young Designs in Invercargill took the kitchen prize with a traditionally styled white kitchen featuring beaded paneling and leadlight-style display cabinets.
WHAT IS THE “TASTE OF AUCKLAND”?
Lovers of food and drink will be happy to hear that Taste of Auckland (13-16 November) is going ahead again in 2014 having left Victoria Park for a more spacious Western Springs setting.
The festival will again feature around a dozen of Auckland’s top restaurants setting up temporary kitchens to produce the very best food and drink they can serve to visitors at festival prices.
Lemon Grass Production’sRob Elliot has managed the Taste of Auckland since its 2009 debut following his involvement in the first Taste of London festival that started the phenomenon in 2004 and has now extended to over 17 cities worldwide.
“A food festival without good food just seemed to be an anomaly,” explains Elliot, to the point where for example Fisher & Paykel’s Social Kitchen concept has been informed by, and evolved alongside, the festival.
Says Rob Elliot: “It’s the sort of environment where you can see what things your customers are truly passionate about.
"We are all victims of thinking we know what our customers want, but actually getting to a forum where you have thousands of those customers exploring and getting engaged with the subject of food and drink is the only way you will really understand it.”