If there is one thing that’s true about the holidays, it is that there will be a lot of cooking going on. For this reason and others, makers of food-preparation appliances have high hopes for this year’s holiday shopping season.
Thanksgiving and the December religious holidays are obviously opportune times for these products, according to Lori Gonzalez, vice president of marketing for Jarden Consumer Solutions. “People are buying for holiday parties and are giving certain products as gifts,” Gonzalez said. “These products are seen as tools at this time of year, for people who look in their kitchens and say, ‘Oh, I’m going to need help in preparing food.’” Jarden is positioning products such as the Crock Pot Trio Cook & Serve slow cooker as a “recession-busting” appliance to help prepare holiday dishes.
Mary Rodgers, director of marketing communications for Cuisinart, agreed with Gonzalez. “The holiday season consistently generates solid sales across the food-prep category for products such as food processors, stand mixers and blenders,” Rodgers said. “Food-preparation appliances are popular gifts for home cooks and do very well in the fourth quarter.”
The holidays are a season to be jolly for many types of food-prep electrics. “Of course, stand mixers are a popular gift,” said Debbie O’Connor, senior manager of brand experience for KitchenAid. “But for those who already have one, the attachments are popular. We just came out with a pasta extruder that makes six different types of noodles, and we came out with two new blenders this fall.”
Products that are versatile and that can handle multiple tasks are well positioned for a strong sales run in the fourth quarter. As an example, Rodgers offered up the Cuisinart 14-Cup Die Cast Metal Food Processor, part of the brand’s trademarked Elite Collection. This appliance “provides home cooks with the ability to handle multiple recipes or multistep recipes with one appliance, but it still takes up less room than an 8 1/2-by-11-inch piece of paper,” she said.
The outlook for the 2009 holiday season is seen as particularly promising for the food-prep category in spite of the questionable economy.
“I think that food-prep appliances will perform well in the upcoming fourth quarter,” said Jennifer Park, marketing communications manager for Fagor America. “This is because it’s the time of year when people are both gifting these items as well as discovering the need for themselves. When pulling out all the stops for holiday menus, I’ve often come across recipes that specifically state the use of a specialty electric to get the job done right.”
Park offered the following examples of specific uses for each of the food-prep categories: “Stand mixers are helping to pump out cookies, cakes, pies and a virtual cornucopia of baked goods. Blenders are kitchen staples that are also perfect for mixing holiday cocktails. Food processors can be helpful as far as turning out perfectly textured stuffing and sauces. There’s absolutely no better time in my opinion to have an extra, dedicated portable induction cooktop in your kitchen to keep the mashed potatoes warm, while freeing up extra space for other things to be prepared on the stove.”
The practical nature of these products is another reason why industry executives are optimistic about the holiday period to come.
“With the economy, more people are entertaining at home,” Gonzalez said. “You still have people nesting and cocooning at home. People have invested a lot in their home and in particular their kitchen, and they’re looking to save money.”
The question then becomes whether a strong fourth quarter in food-prep-product sales can carry forward into 2010. Gonzalez believes that it will because the cocooning trend is likely to continue, with people staying at home and entertaining at home more often even if the economy begins to improve.
However, Gonzalez also cautioned that sales growth next year could be somewhat slow. “Even though the economy is showing signs of recovery now, consumers won’t flex themselves into their old spending habits,” she said. “They’ll be more practical, doing more research into products before purchasing. They want good value. They want to be practical about what they buy.”