After establishing itself as a cookware brand that has become a partner for those in the independent retail market, Hammer Stahl decided it was time for a change. The brand’s parent company, New Era, wanted to make a distinction between its cutlery line, which is imported from Germany, and its stainless steel cookware collection, which is domestically-made.
Additionally, the company was looking for a way to impress upon the consumer that Hammer Stahl wasn’t a cutlery line that made cookware — it is a company that is dedicated to the craft of manufacturing cookware.
So, Hammer Stahl cookware was officially re-branded as Heritage Steel and made its debut at the 2019 International Home + Housewares Show.
Now, a little more than a year later, Heritage Steel is establishing its market share. To find out more about how Heritage Steel is making inroads into the retail market, GOURMET INSIDER® recently spoke to Bobby Griggs, vp/Heritage Steel, about what the company is doing to grow the newly-rebranded line of cookware and how consumers are beginning to recognize its made in the U.S. messaging.
Gourmet Insider: It’s been a year since you rebranded your Heritage Steel cookware. Can you tell me what has changed in that time?
Bobby Griggs: Our customers and retailers alike have really started to begin to identify and resonate with the Heritage Steel brand. Although there is still some brand lag concerning some still identifying our cookware as Hammer Stahl, we have seen the consumer clearly is starting to identify our cookware as made in U.S. And, even more hyper-local, we feel the consumer is starting to understand that we are custom cookware that is crafted in Clarksville, TN. We feel that because of this, both our in-store and e-tail sales are up. Also, organic searches for our products are also showing brand stickiness.
GI: What has the industry response been to the rebrand during the last year?
BG: It was very mixed, but it is beginning to level out. Those retailers that have embraced the brand change have expressed that the change has done exactly what we wanted it to do, which was to help more clearly define our ‘Made in the USA’ product lines from those we import. Our retail partners have appreciated the clear separation of the two and we are seeing this reflected in our sales. We are still working hard to continually improve our communication and branding initiatives to help our retailers better present the brands.
GI: How do you feel this effort has translated to the consumer?
BG: We have seen improved sales performance both in store and online. Additionally, we have received emails asking for clarification and almost all are appreciative that we are clearly separating our imported goods from our cookware crafted here.
I think the intentional effort to clearly and authentically communicate how and where our products are manufactured has been well received. Our customers have connected with the Heritage part of the brand and have started to appreciate and recognize our company’s long history of domestically manufacturing cookware. It appears this marketing strategy has created a thirst to learn more about our company and heritage.
GI: What are your plans for continuing to build on this brand moving forward?
BG: We have several marketing initiatives to help continue to drive both the Heritage Steel and Hammer Stahl brands. First, we are continuing to update sales and marketing literature, boxing and internal marketing and support collateral in the packaging. Secondly, we are launching a video series focused on usage, education and support of the product lines that will help maximize the value and performance for the consumer using the products.
To expand our reach, we are partnering with several social influencers. We are in the process of developing brand specific events with bloggers and social media influencers in some of our retailers’ local markets.
At the factory, we have been fortunate to see significant increase in demand, so we are investing in new machinery, adding additional staff and expanding our production lines.
GI: What do you feel that the industry should know about Heritage Steel if they don’t already?
BG: I really want both our retailers and consumers to know that we are committed to a few basic principles. We want people to fall in love with cooking and sharing great meals together at home. Our mission is to help people share recipes, ideas and experience great food on a consistent basis.
Secondly, we are committed to independent retailers and really want to provide a premium product that provides exceptional value for the consumer while offering the business owner a brand they make money with and trust long term.
Finally, we are committed to New Era, Heritage Steel’s parent company’s, vision of having a thriving cookware factory in the U.S. that is committed to its employees, the local community, its partners and customers.