Small Appliances Get Smaller

Downsizing makes an impact on the small electrics category
December 5, 2016David Gill

By David Gill

NespressoNesprePixieEspressoNespresso’s Nespre Pixie Espresso Maker is available at Target. target.com
A recent Wall Street Journal article, “Honey, I Shrunk the Fridge,” describes how manufacturers of major appliances have gained some market traction by offering their products in smaller sizes.

“The move chases two major shifts under way in U.S. households,” the story said. “More people are moving to smaller homes, especially as they migrate to city centers, and more owners of sprawling homes want appliances in rooms beyond the kitchen.”

This trend has now found its way to appliances that are small to begin with: blenders, slow cookers, coffee and tea makers, toaster-ovens and the like. While by their very nature they are downsized already, retailers and manufacturers have begun offering versions with an even smaller footprint to fit in smaller residences.

KitchenAidArtisanMiniKitchenAid’s Artisan Mini is 20 percent smaller. kitchenaid.com
Target has a presentation of extra-slim coffeemakers from Nespresso, including the appropriately named Nespre Pixie Espresso Maker, whose width is a mere 4.4 inches. The mass merchant’s other Nespresso offerings include the Inissia Espresso Machine (4.7 inches wide) and Citiz line of espresso makers (5.1 inches wide).

One of the top sellers on Wayfair.com is the Breville Compact Smart Toaster Oven, which is 16.5 inches wide. The site also offers a number of compact toasters from Cuisinart.

Wayfair’s offerings address the points made in the Wall Street Journal article. “With the increasingly popular trend of smaller living spaces paired with the rising cost of city living, we’ve seen that many of our customers are interested in smaller electronics in order to maximize the space available in their homes,” said Leigh Kester, category manager for small electrics. “As a result, we’ve increased the breadth and depth of our small electronic product assortment on our site.”

BellaBlenderThe Bella brand’s 2-in-1 Blender from Sensio. bellahousewares.com
With retailers making their mark with smaller electrics, manufacturers have responded. At this year’s International Home + Housewares Show, KitchenAid launched its smaller version of perhaps the most iconic small electric of them all—the Stand Mixer. Called the Artisan Mini, the new product is 20 percent smaller and 25 percent lighter than its long-standing larger version. With a 3.5-quart capacity, it boasts the same power and performance as the classic Stand Mixer with its 4.5-, 5-, 6- and 7-quart capacities, and represents the first downsizing of the Stand Mixer since 1962.

As with the Target and Wayfair offerings, the Artisan Mini appeals to those, by necessity or by choice, who live in smaller spaces. “Particularly among Millennials, urban dwellers and empty-nesters, we saw a desire for a smaller mixer that provides the same overall features of our larger models,” said Derek Ernst, global marketing director for KitchenAid small appliances. “Those new to cooking and baking, and those highly accomplished in the kitchen, will find so many ways to explore new culinary territory.”

Sensio, parent company of the Bella brand of small electrics, had smaller dwellings in mind in its decision to offer slimmed-down version of several of its products—including the Bella Linea 2 Slice Toaster, the Bella Linea Coffee Maker, the Bella Pressure Cooker, the Bella 8-in-1 Grill Station and the 2-in-1 Blender.

“We are trying to reduce footprints of certain items to make it easier to fit even the smallest counters,” said Bryna Kuhnreich, senior marketing director for Sensio. “Just one of these units can replace two or three other small kitchen appliances and thus reduce the space required and unneeded clutter.”

The Bella brand’s target in presenting these smaller electrics is Millennials, the large, up-and-coming generation of shoppers that is on the minds of a multitude of consumer products marketers. “Bella caters to the young Millennial who is just out of college, beginning their career and family life, and living in a small apartment,” Kuhnreich said. But older Millennials are also top of mind in the brand’s downsizing efforts—those consumers “who are now ready for a condo or townhouse upgrade, but where counter space efficiency is still a factor,” she said.

In developing these products, however, Sensio works to maintain the features and benefits of its normal-sized electrics. “Millennials seem to be more practical and desire efficiency,” Kuhnreich said. “It will be important to ensure that single-serving features are just as prevalent as family-sized features. They prefer a single unit that can be their multipurpose go-to item for most of their cooking needs, saving them money by buying fewer appliances—and saving space in their crowded kitchens.”

The Cuisinart brand of Conair Corp. has a number of smaller small electrics in the works as it also looks to accommodate consumers in reduced spaces. “We are coming out with a smaller-format blender and a number of smaller tea kettles,” said Mary Rodgers, director of marketing communications for both the Cuisinart and Waring Pro brands.

Rodgers noted how the trend toward smaller dwellings is approaching the mainstream of the media. “You see shows on HGTV geared toward people moving to smaller houses and apartments,” she said. This presents opportunities for brands such as Cuisinart and Waring Pro. “Social media allows you to direct-market to homeowners in smaller spaces,” she said. “It’s a very niche market, but we use social media to present videos related to these products.”

 

David GillDavid Gill | Senior Editor
dgill@hfnmag.com

David Gill covers home textiles, small electrics housewares, personal-care products, cleaning products, mattresses, consumer electronics and major appliances. He also reports on retailers and writes about the business and financial side of both vendors and retailers. He has more than 30 years of experience in business journalism, and has worked for other publications and websites that cover consumer products from both the manufacturer and retailer sides. His outside interests include sports (he is a big fan of the New York teams and of British soccer), cooking, movies and theater. He occasionally enjoys a good cigar as well.

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