LET’S START OUT BY STATING THE OBVIOUS. Grocery operators have made significant prog- ress in harnessing the sales and significant profits offered
The question really is: Have they maximized the potential yet?
A GMDC panel moderated at the 2016
International Home + Housewares Show
investigated the burgeoning housewares
trade in supermarkets. They started with
food prep, but that is not where it ends.
As Mark Mechelse of GMDC proposed
in his introduction to the panel discussion, an emerging cohort of consumers—
So the question is,
how to drive that extra
profit and take away the assortment
advantages that mass merchants, who
also sell food, have over supermarkets?
Years ago, senior grocery leaders
worked on a food first approach and gen-
eral merchandise was viewed as an ame-
nity, a support to food sales that captured
some extra volume at a pleasingly high
profit. But as competitors evolved and
began creating full or partial food sec-
tions, the game changed.
Thought leaders in the industry like
Wegmans and H-E-B moved to a cus-tomer-first approach that opened the
door for their creative merchants to introduce assortments that celebrated cooking, helped grocery shoppers prepare
meals in the same way that the in-store
demo chefs did, and made a shopping trip
not just about buying the ingredients but
about complete meal preparation.
As grocery stores got bigger, adjacencies were simplified and in the case of
one major national chain, enough space
became available in some prototypes to
insert a full home and housewares section.
So as the mass merchants came to look
more like a supermarket, supermarkets
countered by improving their offerings
in food prep, wine accessories, cookware,
bakeware, electrics, home organization
and other home care categories.
The key realization? Supermarket shoppers today are very likely not just an
opening-price-point consumer. However,
that was the only type of product that was
offered a generation or two ago in supermarkets. Function became more important. Well-designed products came along
to match the shopper’s expectations—
and the customer responded.
For those who are not there yet, how
do you make the leap? Tools abound, as
do opportunities. However, looking for
suppliers can be daunting. Trade maga-
zines can be helpful. Reps and sales
managers are welcome resources. But
the most robust directory of suppliers is
at Housewares Connect 365, housewares.
org/housewaresconnect365. Buyers can
search by product, category or keyword.
They can see videos, view product shots
and browse catalogs. They can see links to
sales managers and websites.
And of course, we would be remiss if
we did not mention the 2017 International
Home + Housewares Show which will
occur March 18-21 at Chicago’s McCormick
Place. More than 2,200 suppliers will be
on hand ready to do business. Many of
those suppliers value the business they
do in supermarkets, which collectively
rank in the top five for channel sales of
Some 500 supermarket purchasing
executives will make the trip to Chicago.
Some will be on hand for the next iteration
of research by GMDC into the fast-growing
category of food storage. Most will visit
supplier partners. Many will assign time
to dig for game changing new products.
Some will arrive at 8 a.m. on March, 18
prior to show open, for the New Exhibitor
Preview where 90 first-time exhibitors will
offer a peek at the newest of the new.
Perry Reynolds is vice president
of global trade development for
the International Housewares
Association. He can be reached
Function became more
products came along
to match the shopper’s
There are tools and opportunities available to supermarkets that want to improve their housewares offerings.
By Perry Reynolds