Turning Houses Into Homes
The Most Motivating Housewares & Home Goods
People vary. That was the conclusion of joint research from the Incentive Marketing Association (IMA) and Incentive Research Foundation (IRF), which found that when you added up all of the reward preferences of its study audience, almost no two were exactly alike. But it's not just true of the way we like to earn awards. It's also true of the awards we prefer—and beyond that, it's true of our personal tastes and styles, the way we outfit our homes, the hobbies we love best.
For you, the idea of an ideal night at the homestead might involve setting the family up with some popcorn in front of the TV for a movie. For me, it might be spinning records on the turntable while enjoying a hot cup of adults-only coffee. But whatever your preference, and mine, and theirs, there's a way to fire up our motivation with just the right reward. And housewares and other goods for the home, which saw a tremendous surge in popularity around the time the economy was turning downward, continue to demonstrate strong performance, driven by constant innovations, and everyone's desire to turn their house into the perfect home, suited just to their tastes.
"Housewares have been the saving grace in a lot of programs this year because they're so strong in redeeming still," said Eric Anderson, director of sales, PMC. He added that while consumer electronics—long considered king of the incentives and rewards hill—still perform well, they're not seeing the same volume as in previous years.
Why? "A lot of people have what they want already," he said, "so the housewares category, with its new innovations and trends, has been doing fantastic business the past couple of years, and that's contributed to growth."
"The appliance industry has always been popular with consumers," Steve Izykowski, national sales manager, Hamilton Beach, said. "Adding meaningful innovation to help consumers get things done easier in the kitchen is what it is about, and this will continue going forward."
When the recession hit in late 2007, it had a big impact on people's lifestyles, and many looked for ways to save. At that point, a lot of incentive program participants started looking to earn housewares, as a way of smoothing that change. Once the economy began to recover, earners simply shifted their sights.
"For sure, the recession led to a lot of people cutting costs by eating more at home, and in turn necessitated products that would help with that lifestyle change," said Chad Glamann, marketing manager, Top Brands Inc. "When the economy strengthened, housewares evolved as well. High-end coffee machines and drink stations are now prevalent and looked at as more of a luxury than as a necessity."
Luxury or necessity, the right combination of tools and home comforts can have a big impact on your quality of life, whether it's how you spend your Monday morning or how you celebrate your Saturday evening.
"Many gifts are special occasion items that you forget about day-to-day," said Becky Sawicki, director of special markets, JURA Inc. "But great housewares products become part of your daily ritual. When you hear someone talking about their coffee maker, they're not just talking about an appliance on their countertop—they're talking about a reason to get out of bed in the morning. Quality housewares essentials are always appreciated and remembered."
People continue to look to housewares "… because everyone has a kitchen and is looking for ways to spend less time preparing meals," Izykowski added. "Appliances can help the cook spend less time away from their guests."
So what do you need to know to stay on top of the latest and greatest in this top reward category?
"We are definitely living in a gadget-obsessed society," Glamann said, "and the housewares category is constantly innovating. Award-winners are always on the lookout for what's next, whether it's the latest in smart home devices or something they saw their favorite celebrity chef using on TV. Housewares make for fun items perfect for entertaining guests."
Cook Something Up
From celebrity chefs to artisan foods at the local brewery, there's been an ongoing foodie trend for a number of years. And it doesn't look like it's abating any time soon. Manufacturers have followed in lockstep with this trend, creating new and innovative solutions that can help you do more at home.
"Surely you can see that the solutions from manufacturers follow the food trends presented on TV and in print," Izykowski said, adding that he expects the 2017 Housewares show to once again highlight this trend.
"The foodie trend is going strong, as witnessed by the takeover of your Facebook wall with those quick-edit videos that show an overhead shot of hands assembling some tasty dish," Glamann said. "Keeping herbs fresh on hand is quickly becoming a foodie's best friend, and items like the Herb Keeper and Herb Chopper from Cuisipro are really trending. People that love to cook don't necessarily want to spend more time in the kitchen, so any products that help to make cooking more efficient redeem well."
Izykowski added that many people are focused on healthier cooking. Certainly being able to keep fresh herbs on hand is one way to add a healthy pop of flavor. But it's not the only way. "Healthy trends continue with consumers having the ability to spiralize their veggies and use blenders more than ever as a multiple-use tool," he said. "Many categories are also adding modern technologies to basic appliance categories, which is appealing to many consumers."
So what are some of the trends when it comes to popular items in the kitchen?
"Basic categories are still doing well," Anderson said. "Cutlery sets and coffee makers are still solid, but the stand mixers and the step-ups are even more powerful. I wouldn't hang my hat on one specific category. People are meeting their needs. It's almost as if you're seeing someone get a nicer coffee maker or toaster and now they're adding the stand mixer. There's a lot of variety and the overall category is doing very well."
"Stainless steel and metallic finishes are still very on trend," Glamann added. "They tend to complement a broad range of décor choices and seem to redeem very well."
In addition, he said, "Space is at a premium for many millennials living in smaller urban apartments, so housewares that take up less counter space are in demand."
One way to save space is to get a single appliance that provides multiple functions. The Hamilton Beach 2-in-1 Oven and Toaster is the perfect example. It can fit a personal pizza or a 9-by-9-inch pan, with a long-slot toaster across the top for optimal toasting, combined with a traditional spacious toaster oven. It toasts 25 percent faster than regular toaster ovens and delivers better quality toast. The long-slot toaster is large enough for bagels and artisan bread, and it features an attractive, all stainless front bezel. The oven offers bake and broil modes, with adjustable temperature from 200 to 450 degrees. It also features a 60-minute timer, two rack positions, and includes a bake pan and external crumb tray.
When it comes to prep, you can get it done in style with the John Boos 18-inch Round Maple Wood End Grain Cutting Board from 20/20 Special Markets. This solid, maple-wood, end-grain cutting board with natural oil finish measures 18-by-18-by-3 inches, and is a beautiful and functional addition to any kitchen. It features a smooth, flat surface for chopping, slicing, dicing, mincing and more. The stylish checkerboard construction is easy to clean and oil to bring out the beauty of the wood. John Boos Chopping Blocks are made to last by skilled craftspeople, and a John Boos cutting board is an heirloom item destined to be treasured for years.
Serve & Entertain
When you're ready to serve, there are plenty of options as well. Knork Flatware's Antique Copper Titanium Finish Hand Forged Stainless Steel Flatware brings a new metal into the mix. This unique, cool dark antique copper flatware marries rustic charm with modern style for a look that's bold. The titanium-coated technique is PVD and is dishwasher-safe and scratch-resistant.
You can set the scene for holiday entertaining with Nambé contemporary bar and wine accessories. The Nara Ice Bucket, Vie Wine stemware, Spiral Wine Chiller, Cheese Block and the Sixty Five Bowl create a splendid presentation for family and friends to enjoy. Nambé is the perfect corporate gift for employees and clients to be fondly remembered. Customization is available for an added special touch.
Available through Rymax from Juliska's Berry & Thread Collection, the Whitewash 5-Piece Place Setting is rimmed with simple thread and adorned with a sprinkling of berries. The collection contains a round dinner plate, scalloped dessert/salad plate, round side plate, tea/coffee cup and scalloped saucer. Made of ceramic stoneware in Portugal, the exquisite collection is oven-, microwave-, dishwasher- and freezer-safe.
Coffee makers are particularly popular right now, and there's enough innovation and interest in this category to warrant its own remarks. While many folks still stop daily for their $5-plus cup from the popular coffee chains, many choose to personalize their cuppa joe at home.
"Personalizing your food and beverage experience is a big trend," Sawicki said. "'How do you like your coffee?' used to mean, 'Do you want cream or sugar?' Today's consumer has opinions and preferences for brewing methods, dark or light roast beans, country of origin of beans, frothed or steamed milk, type of milk and flavor add-ins, in addition to choice of beverages, from espresso and ristretto to cappuccino, latte macchiato or flat white. This has inspired new creativity and technology in countertop appliances for brewing the best at home.
"Very popular right now are coffee and tea appliances that deliver something special," she added. "An automatic coffee machine with a color screen that guides you through recipes for show-stopping coffee specialties. An iced tea maker with customizable brewing options. A 21st century percolator with retro-style and modern features. An automatic milk frother with hot and cold settings that can also whip up frothy hot chocolate or steamed hot apple cider. A stylish glass water kettle with variable temperature control to brew any type of pour-over coffee."
"Auto drip coffee makers after a few years of decline are experiencing strong sales increases, as single-serve coffee sales have slowed," Izykowski added.
Anderson called out the expansion of multi-functioning machines: "Not just a standard coffee maker, but a machine that'll do a cappuccino and a latte and an espresso. Growth in those categories are fueled by people starting to realize that they can get nice quality final product made at home just like they're used to at Starbucks or Petes."
With its 16-ounce capacity, the Capresso Mini Kettle is the go-to choice for small kitchens, travel, office desks and more. Compact and portable, it features a micro filter that traps any particles before they reach the cup. It is ideal for boiling water for freshly brewed tea, pour-over coffee, cocoa mixes, hot soups, instant oatmeal and more. It features dry boil protection and automatic shut-off to ensure safe and worry-free operation. The heat-resistant base is safe for any surface.
The Hamilton Beach Compact and Contemporary 10 Cup Thermal Coffee Maker features three brew-strength settings, including regular, bold and robust, providing the user with ultimate control. It features a cone filter basket for better extraction, which provides better tasting coffee. The vacuum-sealed insulated stainless steel carafe features thumb-activated easy pour. Convenience features include: easy-fill water reservoir, programmable with two-hour automatic shutoff, easy-to-see water window, Auto Pause and Service, and backlit display for maximum visibility of controls. It comes with a Melitta sample filter pack.
The JURA E8 is a coffee bar for the home. Jura's exclusive barista technology, Pulse Extraction Process, brews the most flavorful espresso every time. The One-Touch Cappuccino function lets you make cappuccinos, latte macchiatos, flat whites and more. A true bean-to-cup experience that's freshly ground, not capsuled. The large color display makes it easy to personalize your brew.
Safe & Clean
Of course, the home is much more than what's in the kitchen. From the front to the back door, upstairs and down, you need to ensure safety. On top of this, everyone wants tools that simplify housework.
Everyone wants to be prepared, and the Kaito Voyager XL Digital Emergency Power Station is the ultimate portable communications and emergency tool, handy for when the power goes out or disaster strikes. With multiple power sources, the Kaito Voyager XL keeps you connected to the world during emergencies. Power sources include hand-crank motor, rechargeable battery, built-in rotating solar panel, USB or AC. It packs digital AM/FM, 24/7 NOAA National Weather Service with 'weather alert,' MP3 music player, micro SD card slot, built-in Bluetooth, digital radio recorder, digital voice recorder, 3-LED flashlight, 5-LED reading lamp, clock/alarm, backlit LCD display and a portable USB recharging station for phones and other devices. It also features a large dynamic speaker and water-resistant rubberized protective case.
Miele's Scout RX1 Robotic Vacuum, available through Rymax, is the perfect helping hand to ensure your home stays neat and tidy. For more than a century, Miele has been living by its motto, "immer besser," which means, "forever better." The company designs high-quality, durable products that deliver outstanding results. The Scout RX1 Robotic Vacuum brings optimum cleaning performance right to your living space. This smart gadget features gyro sensor navigation, seven anti-collision sensors, and a ceiling camera. The two rotating side brushes, turbo brush and high-efficiency suction system are sure to clean even the toughest corners. With nonstop power, four cleaning modes and a turbo mode, this smart, navigating robotic vacuum cleaner is the "little vacuum that could."
From Top Brands, the Workshop General Purpose Wet/Dry Vac steps up power and drum capacity. This 9-gallon, 4.25 Peak HP vac remains easy to maneuver and store. Its integrated blowing port adds cleaning versatility when you just don't want to suck it up. Includes: vacuum, 1 7/8-inch diameter hose, utility nozzle, wet nozzle, two extension wands, dust bag, filter and five-year limited warranty.
In addition to being safe and keeping clean, there are other ways to boost your home's comfort. Available through Top Brands, the Vornado IR400 Infrared Heater lets you choose between whole-room warmth and a personalized heat zone. The IR400 has the ability to use Vornado's signature V-Flow whole room heat circulation to deliver continuous, uniform heat to the entire room or switch to a personal heat zone just for you. It features a cool touch exterior, three heat settings, automatic safety tip-over switch, overheat shutoff protection, thermostatic temperature control, cord wrap and a five-year limited warranty.
Beyond the tools you use in your home, there's a whole world of ways to furnish it, and myriad styles are available to help you find the right fit for your program participants.
Available through Incentive Concepts, the Human Touch iJoy Active 2.0 lets you relax and unwind in a compact, sleek massage chair—the perfect addition to your living space. No room is too big or too small for an iJoy. The FlexGuide orbital massage replicates techniques used by massage professionals to relax and recharge your body. Enjoy any of three intelligently designed, invigorating auto-massage programs, or customize your experience. iJoy elevates your lifestyle and performance, keeping your mind and body active.
New for Spring 2017, Waterford introduces an exceptional lighting range designed to appeal to an array of tastes and décor preferences. Whether you're shopping for a modern or a traditional look, Waterford lighting assortment embraces every spirit of style. With the opening retail price of $295 for some accent lamps ranging to $625, the new lamps have great value. Pictured here is the Kilrush 26-inch Table lamp.
Add comfort and style to outdoor spaces with the Gramercy 4-Piece Seating Set from Hanover Outdoor, available through PMC. The set consists of one deep-seating sofa, two matching arm chairs, four coordinating accent pillows and a tempered-glass coffee table. Offering casual elegance, this set combines a sturdy, rust-resistant steel frame with an all-weather resin weave that offers many seasons of enjoyment. Multiple cushion options are available to choose from and perfectly complement the flared wicker frame.
Savor every moment preparing your favorite grilled foods on the innovative Kamado Grill by Hanover Outdoor, available through PMC. The all-in-one unit allows you to smoke, sear, grill and bake all types of food with ease. The thick ceramic walls retain heat for even cooking and moisture for juicy results. The Kamado Grill boasts an impressive temperature range from 200 to 700 degrees, giving you the power to do everything from slow cooking to searing. Crank the heat up to take advantage of the self-cleaning feature, turning any mess left behind to dust.
Summing everything up, Sawicki said, "When it comes to housewares, convenience is always on trend. Looks, performance and ease of use—all three boxes need to be checked for the ultimate in great design."