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Food Focused

You keep hearing (and we keep writing) about how you should no longer simply try to sell more “stuff” to a consumer base increasingly wary about simply buying more stuff.

But, of course, we all know you make your living by selling more stuff.

You can’t have it both ways. Or can you?

It is not mere Millennial-aimed marketing speak when retail experts declare the future of store-bound retailing is all about delivering a great experience.

Just as it is not unreasonable to expect gourmet kitchenware retailers, pressured as much as any group in today’s marketplace, to seize their advantage in delivering a more personalized, engaging in-store experience.

A main ingredient of that experience: Food.

This is not a call for specialty kitchenware stores to transform into specialty grocers, although many have discovered high-margin, plus business from deftly curated selections of shelf-stable foods, coffees, teas, candy, popcorn and other traffic-driving and impulse-stimulating treats. What continues to distinguish this important class of retailers is their deftly curated core of premium cookware, cutlery, tools, electrics, serveware, tableware and other gourmet accessories.

Food, however, connects it all. Successful kitchenware store owners, with their cooking schools, tastings, demos and such, will tell you that’s no news flash. They know that preparation, cooking and serving of food underpins their existence.

But this is a business segment of late that must work even harder to avoid the trap of too much attention on the bells and whistles on the tools in their stores at the expense of telling more compelling stories about the food experiences such tools can facilitate.

Ask yourself what your customers encounter when they walk through your doors. Do they just see a selection of nice products? Or do they see a more inspiring reflection of today’s in-demand food culture?

Are your sales associates as deft at dishing — in detail — on the hottest food trends as they are at explaining the intricacies of multi-ply stainless steel cookware and demonstrating knife skills? The former might matter even more among the new-generation of kitchenware consumers.

Don’t be surprised that leading digital and social-media food platforms are starting to sell kitchenware. For them, identifying and expertly talking up food lifestyles sets up the housewares sales.

That’s still the turf for gourmet kitchenware retailers, the original influencers when it comes to one-on-one customer engagement, expertise, inspiration, service and selection. How can you protect that turf?

Your advantage remains the opportunity to offer a hands-on, collective prep, cooking and serving experience framed by a deeper understanding of the food trends shaping cooking and serving techniques and equipment.

Look for GOURMET INSIDER® in 2019 to further emphasize the links connecting food lifestyles, gourmet implements and the home chef. You’ll find continuing coverage of the widening shelf-stable food opportunity, plus special semi-annual ON THE TABLE™ sections illustrating the food lifestyles behind progressive prep-to-cook-to-serve merchandising.

We remain focused on providing retailer-cultivated insights into optimizing the merchandising of gourmet kitchenware — the unmistakable core of this specialty retail channel.

But don’t forget the food. You don’t need to become a food retailer to offer an inspiring food-focused experience.

It might just help you sell more stuff.

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