By David Gill
CHICAGO–Jarden Consumer Solutions’ new business development unit has proven that the company can create new offerings for retailers without being an acquirer.
This is a particularly important element of this unit. The company has grown its housewares business primarily through acquisitions, bringing on board big names such as Oster, Sunbeam and Mr. Coffee by this route.
But Jarden also recognized the need for growth through creating its own labels. Speaking to HFN during the International Home & Housewares Show, Andrew Hill, president of Jarden Consumer Solutions, said, “Three years ago, we decided that we needed an idea incubator to find new businesses and new brands.” The new business development unit that was formed at that time “took us from the image of just being an acquirer,” Hill said. “The new brands they developed, Margaritaville [beverage maker] and Zarafina [tea maker], have also put us into new channels of distribution, such as upscale specialty stores.”
To head the unit, Jarden hired Vera Bevini as its director. A former Saeco vice president, Bevini attended the University of Venice and Duke University, and holds a Ph.D. in consumer behavior.
“We approach new product development as the intersection of three elements—the consumer, technology and business,” Bevini told HFN, also during the Housewares Show. “We never look at these independently. The Margaritaville, for example, is the integration of a blender product and the need for consumers to have something out of the ordinary.”
Both brands launched last year and were “phenomenally successful,” Hill said. At the Housewares Show, Jarden presented its new version of the Margaritaville, the Fiji Frozen Concoction Maker, with four preprogrammed drink cycles and an enhanced ice reservoir.
“Our group, which numbers 16, has its own product-development team and our own product management team, and we leverage Jarden’s teams in these areas,” Bevini said. “We are also creative in business development. An example of this is the packaging for the Zarafina, which is based on Godiva’s chocolate and gift boxes.”
Bevini describes her approach as “psychographic. It’s based on what consumers want and how they interact. I believe in the experiential approach, in that consumers are beyond functional when it comes to products. They are into experiences.”
The unit’s work is far from done. This fall, Jarden will roll out new business development’s latest concept, the Skybar, a wine chiller. “The Skybar chills, preserves and distributes wine,” Bevini said, “It’s also designed like furniture, to look good in a room.” The group is also considering ideas for new products for health-conscious consumers, based on the same connection between functional and experiences.
The presence of the new business development unit doesn’t mean that Jarden is turning away from growing through acquisitions. Hill said the company would continue to pursue this route “if the acquisition makes sense for us.”
“Acquisitions have worked well for us in growing our company,” he said. “But we want to grow organically and through new sources as well. The unit is also going to put us into new product categories, which will be derivatives of our existing products.