The Color of Gadgets

By Andrea Lillo

When it comes to tools and gadgets, customers are seeing red--and other colors. The powerful pop of crimson is what consumers gravitate toward when shopping for kitchen tools and gadgets, most manufacturers in this category said, though a range of hues remains integral.

While basic colors such as black and white are still prevalent, collections with a few eye-catching hues will always resonate with consumers. And in this category, the price points are ideal for impulse purchases so consumers can fearlessly add color to their kitchens.

"Color is a really important growth area for us--it gives people a fun factor," said Steven White, vice president of sales and marketing, Kuhn Rikon. About a quarter of Kuhn Rikon's tool and gadget sales falls into the red category, he added, followed by greens, yellows and oranges. Black and white account for about 10 percent of the line, though they are not offered in every category.

White added that blues and purples are always part of the mix at Kuhn Rikon as well. "They're not a food color but a kitchen color," White said.

And while gadgets have become a year-round item, they, like other housewares categories, experience considerable sales in the fall as well, as families ready themselves for the season.

"With the rise in celebrity chefs and the trend towards cooking at home, many more people are buying kitchen gadgets as presents as well as for self-purchases," said Richard Joseph, co-founder and managing director of Joseph Joseph.

The colors red and lime green lead the way for Joseph Joseph, as "both complement neutral colors in the kitchen like whites, blacks and stainless steel." In addition, orange and purple are becoming contenders as well, though "time will tell if they stay 'on trend' like green and red," he said. "Your base colors will have a longer life than the trend colors but you can have a lot more fun playing with the trend colors."

And where the gadget will end up in the home is also a color consideration. "Items that people store in drawers sometimes can be more fun," said Harold Abrams, president, MSC Intl. However, "items that sit on counters need to match their decor so we are more limited." Orange, green and red are the top hues for MSC Intl.

For Alessi, blue is actually the strongest performing pigment among its core color lineup of blue, red, yellow and green, said Paolo Cravedi, managing director, Alessi US. However, rather than following trends, company head Alberto Alessi allows the designer to conceptualize "not only the object, but also the color, the name and the packaging," Cravedi said. "We propose colors that do not necessarily follow trends, as they fulfill the expressive need of the designer, first and foremost."

The company uses colors mostly in its AdiAlessi collection, "which includes our most democratic designs," Cravedi said. "At higher price points, we usually work with different finishes of stainless steel, wood and silver."

At Bodum USA, black and red remain crucial, but the hot hues are lime green and orange right now, said Thomas Perez, president. "As long as the price point is in the lower end, most consumers feel more confident purchasing colors."

Monique Haas, marketing director, Gourmac division of Hutzler Manufacturing Co. agreed. "Our customers really like our variety of colors and they are very willing to experiment, probably because our gadgets are relatively inexpensive," she said.

Gourmac's business used to be more seasonal, she added, as most business was done in the fourth quarter. But now things have evened out, and gadgets can be year-round sellers, as evidenced by the company's line of food savers, which include 11 varieties of savers shaped as fruits and vegetables. "Of course, color and price certainly come into play with these items because they are so bright and fun as well as affordable," Haas said.

Robinson Home Products recently launched Green Street, a line of four tools, each manufactured with two to three recycled water bottles, and in a green colorway. "Green is a very popular color choice right now and Caribbean Blue is gaining traction," said Lynne Recktenwald, vice president, marketing, Robinson Home Products. Black, she added, is a basic that always needs to be included in any collection.

HFN Staff | News & Commentary

HFN provides detailed information on the key home classifications: Housewares, Tabletop, Floor Covering & Rugs, Furniture, Home Textiles, Lighting, Home Decor, Mattresses & Bedding, Gifts, Major Appliances and Consumer Electronics as well as Business, Finance and Retail.


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