So You Think You Can Cook?

       

       

By David Gill

What Americans use to cook, beautify themselves and take care of their floors are the subjects of recent studies issued by The NPD Group, the Port Washington, N.Y.-based market research company.

In one survey, “What You Didn’t Know About Small Electrics,” NPD reported that small kitchen electrics figure prominently as gift items. Ten percent of small electrics purchased from November 2010 through October 2011 were for Christmas and Hanukkah.

In addition, the average unit selling price for small electrics is at its highest in the month of December. Consumers also spent an average of 14 percent more on small electrics when they buy them as gifts for someone else.

In NPD’s Kitchen Audit 2011 (the company conducts Kitchen Audits every three years), the company found that 20 percent of U.S. households own a pressure cooker.

The report also examined consumers’ views of their cooking skills. Homemakers considering themselves “very good” included 60 percent of the those aged 25 to 34, 57 percent of those aged 35 to 44, 50 percent of those aged 45 to 54 and 50 percent of those 65 and older. Homemakers who gave themselves “excellent” ratings included 16 percent of 55- to 64-year-olds and just 10 percent of those 25 to 34 years old.

Homemakers’ self-assessments of their cooking prowess are crucial for food and appliance manufacturers, according to Dori Hickey, NPD’s director of product management and head of the team that conducts the Kitchen Audit. Vendors “will consider the homemaker’s cooking skills self-assessment when developing recipes and future product and marketing strategies,” Hickey said.

Recently, NPD also put the spotlight on the personal-care field. In its study, “What You Didn’t Know About Personal Care Appliances,” the research firm found that 10 percent of personal-care appliance purchases from December 2010 to November 2011 were made online—with men’s electric shavers accounting for 20 percent of these buys.

Personal-care products also figure prominently in the gift sector, with 10 percent of all purchases in this time frame made as gifts for other people. The most “gifted” product categories in personal care were massaging appliances, men’s and women’s electric shavers, facial trimmers and body groomers.

December 2010 was a popular month for purchases of flat iron/straighteners, accounting for more than 15 percent of the purchases in that category. Within this product grouping, combination curling irons/straighteners were the top sellers.

Massaging appliances emerged as a male-dominated category in the personal-care survey. Twenty-four percent more men than women bought massaging appliances in that time frame.

Online arose as a major channel for buying floor-care products, according to NPD’s “What You Didn’t Know About Floor Care,” which researched floor-care purchases from November 2010 to October 2011. Fifteen percent of the dollars spent on floor-care items were spent online in that time frame.

The Worldwide Web’s role in floor care goes beyond purchasing. The report said the majority of floor-care purchases are researched online—with shoppers surfing through retailer or manufacturer websites, product-review websites and social networks and blogs.

About 45 percent of the floor-care items sold in that time frame were upright vacuums. Meanwhile, one-fourth of the robotic vacuums sold in those 12 months were bought in November and December 2010.

Floor-care products do not come up big as gift items. Only 6 percent of the purchases in that time period were as a gift for someone else. Of those, more than half were for gifts for Christmas or Hanukkah.

Looking at the shape of the floor-care category, Debra Mednick, executive director of NPD’s home division, said, “Overall, floor-care dollars are flat year to date (January to October 2011 versus the same period in the prior year), though the largest segment, upright vacuums, is up. The ‘darling’ of floor care in past years, bare floor cleaners, which includes steam products, has leveled out and is down slightly.”