Bakeware makers say ‘I Do’ to brides
Bakeware manufacturers are target marketing the bridal market in hopes of increasing their selling seasons. Traditionally, the heaviest selling season for the bakeware industry is the fourth quarter. However, by targeting the bridal market the industry hopes to add the spring and fall bridal seasons to its business. Bakeware has made inroads into the bridal market because of expanded bridal registries and the increased availability of exclusive bakeware products at department stores.
With more upscale vendors in the $293 million metal bakeware category targeting the bridal market than in years past, department stores can now add the spring and fall bridal seasons to a business whose heaviest selling season has traditionally been the fourth quarter.
“Bakeware is seasonal and this puts it into the second and third quarter, adding additional seasons,” commented Nordic Ware president David Dalquist. “While it will never be a year-round business, the growth of bakeware in bridal will certainly help justify department stores’ shelf space and inventory commitments. It’s been a sleepy category for them that most haven’t really paid attention to.”
According to both retailers and vendors, the influx of bakeware into the bridal market is due to two factors: the increased availability of exclusive products for department stores and the ongoing trend of broadening registries beyond tabletop, cutlery, cookware and gifts.
“As bakeware prices and quality come up, it brings it more into the gift category,” said Paul Angelo LoGiudice, product and culinary director for Commercial Aluminum Cookware Co., whose new Calphalon bakeware, cookware and other products are part of an extensive bridal program. “When a cookie sheet comes closer to $25, it brings it all together over a flimsy one that isn’t heavyweight. But a department store must have both a strong bakeware and a strong bridal business for bakeware to work in registries.”
“In the early days, everyone thought dinnerware and flatware,” added Marlene Desing, gift registry director for Younkers. “But department stores have opened up other categories over the past few years. Bakeware, which used to be a token gift from a mother, is now becoming an acceptable gift. And computerized registries allow you to keep track of more information and to help the buyer predict how much product to keep on shelves.”
Other retailers cited as already offering strong bridal bakeware programs–along with extensive assortments of bakeware in general–include ZCMI, Dillard’s, Carson Pirie Scott, The Broadway, Marshall Field’s and The Bon Marche, said vendors.
Many players in upscale bakeware have only been in the market six to 12 months though. For the few that have been in the category two years or more and have comprehensive bridal programs, however, annual registry growth is as high as 30 percent.
“Two years ago, we began targeting the bridal registries of better department stores with our Excelle line,” commented Byron Stanger, vice president of marketing for Wilton Industries. “Over the past year, our bridal business has grown 25 to 30 percent with certain retailers. Brides’ selections tend to be toward better, nonstick bakeware because it’s being given as a gift. And brides that register for nonstick cookware will more likely than not register for nonstick bakeware.”
Mirro Co. cited similar growth. “Our bridal bakeware business has grown 25 percent over the past 12 months and we’re at the point where we’re using more people to handle the volume, asking for assistance at our plant in Kansas,” said Vikki Slavin, sales promotion coordinator. “We were getting two boxes of mail a week; it was becoming overwhelming.”
While Wilton, Mirro and Calphalon are among the few vendors offering all or most elements of a full-blown bakeware bridal program, every other vendor contacted is targeting or plans to address the bridal market at some level. Programs include gifts to registrants and retail employee incentives, literature aimed at brides and bridal directors, bridal consultant training, participation and product demonstration at bridal fairs, program exhibition at trade shows, print ads in bridal publications and/or co-op advertising with department stores.
Here is a run-down of what they’re doing:
* Kaiser is offering a free 9-inch cake pan to brides who register for five or more pieces of its Nolesse or La Forme brands. “We want brides to get the product in their hands so they love it and encourage someone to buy it for them or buy it themselves if they don’t receive it,” said vice president of marketing Tom Reikowski.
* Nordic Ware, whose International Specialties brand of department store-exclusive, traditional shapes made its debut at the 1994 Housewares Show, is working with several accounts on co-op advertising programs for the spring, said Dalquist. Ads including its cast aluminum Bundt pan and other items would run in May and June.
* In January, Roshco Inc. will begin offering its existing pizza pan and crisper in a set that also includes a pizza cutter. The nonstick, steel pieces are already popular on registries, said national sales manager Adam Stone. Retailing for under $25, the set will save the consumer $10 over open stock. The company is also working on a second bridal incentive program; details had not been not finalized at press time. The company also participates in bridal fairs.
* T-Fal Corp. is no newcomer to the bridal market. Treating its seven SKU Resistal bakeware line as an offshoot of its extensive aluminum nonstick cookware business, the manufacturer advertises in key bridal publications, shows both product categories at bridal fairs and offers a T-Fal magnet to registrants, said national demonstration and sales training manager Susan Bridges. Once a bridal gift of cookware and/or bakeware is actually purchased, the bride receives a free crepe pan.
In an effort to greater emphasize its bakeware in all phases of its upscale business, the company plans to expand the gift concept and to educate bridal directors on the bakeware’s uses, she added.
* Chicago Metallic, which recently began offering department stores a full upscale line, attends bridal fairs where it does product demonstrations, said national sales manager Ron Field. It hopes to expand this program. Field hopes to launch a brochure with applicable products that pinpoints the bride as the target customer. The firm currently uses more general bakeware literature.