When the COVID-19 pandemic led consumers to seek the safety and comfort of home, many spent the extra time sharpening their culinary skills or getting better organized.
While virus-related restrictions have loosened, what hasn’t changed is the time many are spending taking advantage of their newfound cooking skills, making healthy meals and getting their pantries and closets in ship shape.
This heightened awareness consumers have related to food preparation and home organization has led to new opportunities for Newell Brands.
In Part II of an interview series with Kitchenware Today, Kris Malkoski, CEO of Home Solutions for Newell, shared insight into the demands seen from consumers over the past 18 months and how the company is working to meet the needs of consumers seeking better quality products.
(Part I of the series featured an interview with Newell’s Chris Robins, who spoke on new opportunities in kitchen electrics.)
KITCHENWARE TODAY: What have been some of the biggest changes you have seen in consumer behavior over the past 15 months?
KRIS MALKOSKI: There have been several changes. People are cooking at home more, in fact, 50% more. This equates to 97 additional hours in the kitchen. And what we’re finding through research is that 80% of people continue to cook at home at rates seen during the height of the COVID lockdown. People have also found that cooking at home is more economical and allows them to eat healthier.
Also, we have also seen people spending more time organizing their kitchens. This happens when people spend more time at home.
The demand for food storage and preservation products has grown and remains strong. People are growing more gardens and like the experience of having fresh fruits and vegetables.
As a result of all this, we have seen consumers trading up to better quality products. Not only were unit shares up, but dollar shares increased as well.
KWT: How have changes in consumer behavior impacted demand for food storage and food preservation products?
KM: In a category such as vacuum sealing, the target consumer has always been those who buy their food in bulk and look to store items in their refrigerator or freezer. Today, vacuum sealers are being used to infuse flavors into various proteins or to cook sous vide. It’s no longer only about storing food, but also getting the best flavor out of what people are cooking.
KWT: How has cookware been impacted?
KM: What we have seen in cookware is that the focus continues to be on non-stick. We have also found that consumers who purchased cookware traded up for a better quality item. This has been a major benefit for Calphalon, which has a history as cooking tools that are used by chefs. Now, we have a new group of home chefs turning to the brand to meet their cooking needs.
KWT: As we head to the holiday selling season, is there any concern about product availability given the reported inventory shortages in some categories?
KM: Given our capacity, our suppliers have given us priority. Also, we made adjustments at our manufacturing plants in the U.S. We have taken our two-shift plants and increased them to four shifts.
KWT: When looking at key product categories, what have been some of the more recent notable developments at Newell?
KM: We have notable items across several categories.
1) Food storage: Our Rubbermaid Brilliance food storage and pantry line continue to see momentum. Consumers like the air-tight, leak-proof seals and also like the fact that they can be used in the microwave. Also, our Rubbermaid SilverShield with its anti-microbial coating has been very popular.
2) Food preservation: the FoodSaver VS 3000 has been very popular and has surpassed the $100 million mark in sales.
3) Cookware: we launched our Calphalon Premier collection, which includes non-stick and stainless steel. We also added a new line of Calphalon cutlery with anti-microbial handles and non-stick blades. As a result, sales have gone up 400%.
KWT: Looking ahead into 2021, what will be the focus for new product development?
KM: We will continue to deliver products at the better and best levels of our businesses. We have some pretty exciting things that will launch next year, but we can’t share what those are at this time.