The tabletop category is poised for resurgence as the Millennial generation further embraces home ownership and accepts the economy’s growing stability. However, as the generation evolves so do its buying habits and so too must the vendors and retailers that look to entice them.
While generations past would invest heavily in large china sets and often purchase and repurchase everyday tableware, today’s consumer leans toward casual and convenient at value driven pricepoints, all the while shouting, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
That doesn’t mean the need for tabletop has diminished, however. In fact, one habit the younger generations did pick up from their predecessors is hunkering down during times of political upheaval, vendors noted, and home entertaining is on the rise.
Vendors noted that the younger generations entertain more casually and often spontaneously. As such, materials that promote easy maintenance and high function are experiencing growth. In addition, entertaining means personalization for today’s consumer, and vendors noted that breaking apart sets and growing open stock assortments has experienced considerable success filling that need.
While consumers may purchase one large, foundational set, it’s the accent pieces that will follow trends and home décor, making for multiple and frequent purchases.
Open stock mugs, for example, have experienced increasing demand as the segment allows consumers to personalize their table setting. Vendors noted that open stock bowls have also seen a surge in demand, and some vendors are shifting set configurations to accommodate multiple and varying bowl options.
As casual living reigns as the “it word” in today’s market, some high-end brands have begun branching out to develop more casual lines of tableware, but that doesn’t mean that high-end tabletop doesn’t have its place. Some vendors noted that smaller sets positioned towards personalization are where the segment has new opportunity to shine.
Vendors noted that the independent and gift retailers are well suited to handle the higher wholesale pricepoints and smaller set designs of high-end tabletop, and is an opportunity that should be pursued.
Marketing has also been turned on its head when it comes to the younger generations. Today’s consumer no longer takes a brand at its word or retail display, vendors noted, and the industry needs to evolve traditional communication methods in an age where open communication before point of sale is key.
Instagram, for example, has become a haven for food bloggers as the social media platform focuses on style and imagery. Vendors and retailers have found success partnering with the blogger community.
Bloggers can serve to expose products to new and younger consumers. Bloggers are also trusted by their fans as third party reviewers, and can tout a product’s features and benefits seemingly unbiased.
While challenges abound, so too does opportunity when it comes to the vastly evolving tabletop market. The industry just needs to pay closer attention to the needs of today’s consumer, vendors noted, because, while the category has the potential to boom, it’s not your mother’s table setting that’ll get it there; the tabletop of yesteryear is likely to stay there.