Power Player: Raul Corzo President Imusa USA

Raul CorzoRaul Corzo, President, Imusa USA
What is the biggest challenge facing the housewares industry?

Worldwide economics, currency depreciation and commodity prices have created a sense of mid- to long-term uncertainty for the marketplace and for consumers. For Imusa, determining the right pricing structure in an effort to provide our customers with the best possible cost has proven to be a challenge in forecasting for 2016. The ability to move and adapt to these changes will provide a competitive advantage in the marketplace when developing 2016/2017 programs. We are hoping that our biggest challenge is also our biggest opportunity.

What is the one thing the industry should be doing more of?

The industry needs to continue to segment the store assortment to provide their customers with a personal and customized shopping experience, and needs to improve the logistics and systems needed to support this segmentation.

What consumer trends are currently influencing Imusa?

We see a trend in consumer behavior where we constantly engage crossover consumers experimenting with exotic cooking. The blending of different cultures has always been prevalent in the United States, and Imusa continues to develop products to service this idea. We thrive on providing products that embody the traditional feel and functionality that we know our consumers are looking for.

How was business for you in the fourth quarter? What’s your prediction for 2016?

Q4 was very positive for Imusa ... it was actually our best quarter to date in the history of the company. I attribute this to a number of things: a combination of our everyday programs together with cross-merchandizing and promotional programs. Imusa is forecasting 2016 to be a strong year. Our new line of small appliances has already proven to be a perfect complement to our core business, providing our customers with a one-stop-shop when catering to their ethnic customer base.

What is your best-selling item, and why? Are your best sellers different between in store and online?

Our best-selling item varies by region. On the West Coast and in the Central states, our best-selling item in Q4 was the 20-Quart and 32-Quart Tamale Steamers. This comes as no surprise, since tamales are a traditional Meso-American dish that are very popular around the holidays. On the East Coast, where the Latin demographic is predominately Caribbean, our large Caldero SKUs perform very well late in the year as people prepare for large family gatherings and holiday entertaining. Interestingly enough, we do not see the same trends online. There are specific items that perform below average within the brick-and-mortar stores, but become the best-selling items online. For example, the Imusa Cast Iron Tortilla Press is our top-selling item online.

How has online changed how you look at your business strategy?

We have been able to provide a larger breadth of product offerings and have also improved our accessibility to the consumer. It has also provided a platform where we can receive immediate feedback for future product development and product improvement. We are able to test new items online, and the customer insight is very beneficial.

David GillDavid Gill | Senior Editor

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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