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Jack Chan

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Across the retail spectrum Mass retailers, department stores, and home specialty retailers classifieds earnings garnered an 8%
gain from 1999 to 2000, amounting to $1.8 billion according to a report by NPD HomeTrak[TM]. Such excitement for the category is
echoed by reports from manufacturers who note similar sales growth, with the best growth experienced at the end of their cookware
category.

Okay, cookware earnings are up, And all classes of commerce are experiencing sales growth, yet you stay a bit wary about how much
effort you must donate to the category. Cookware absorbs a whole lot of shelf space, requires a substantial monetary investment
for stock, and you might feel you're losing the brand struggle to the bulk merchants because you simply can't compete in depth and
breadth of merchandise, let exclusively on price.

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If that refers to your current situation, Odds Are you have not Created your own market in the cookware market. Careful
consideration of product, vendor service, and store level marketing might help set you apart from the competition and increase
your earnings year round.

Cornerstone of the Kitchen

Cookware is without a doubt The cornerstone of each kitchen house or specialist. As customer demand for cookware increased, the
class proliferated along retail channels, leaving consumers confused and specialty retailers frustrated.

That frustration is often based on concerns about comparable Products being sold in competing trade channels. In addition to this
issue of product sameness, specialty retailers struggle to compete on cost oftentimes with customers believing that better value
can be found at"other" retail channels. This concern has directed separate gourmet shop owners to actively seek cookware lines
that are a cut above the rest.

To help in that hunt, more and more manufacturers are Dedicating people, merchandise, and promotions prior to creating the class a
powerful one for specialty retailers. As manufacturers provide specialty retailers with different assortments not accessible
everywhere, hopes are that clients will realize the differences, enabling specialty retailers to better compete with the big guys.

Defining your cookware business is an Essential starting point for success. What do you stand for in butter? Are you going to be
the resource for top end cookware? Are you going to provide the client with a good, better, best assortment? Or, are you going to
offer an extremely narrow array focusing solely on one or two cookware types copper, stainless, nonstick, etc.?

"What we do is carry cookware that I believe is Of the highest quality and that plays quite well," explained Mary Moore, founder
and co owner of The Cook's Warehouse in Atlanta. Moore's experience as a chef has helped her decide what to provide her clients.
"We have found that our options have described our cookware company high quality and professional."

It's probably safe to presume that many specialty kitchenware Shop clients are food enthusiasts they enjoy good cooking, fine
dining, and have a solid interest in the culinary arts.

When Trying to provide savvy customers with high end product Lines to satisfy their sophisticated demands, start with the basics
and build upwards. Select your basic variety offer selections in non invasive, stainlesssteel, and clad cookware categories, for
instance. Then, in each class, choose lines which you feel best match the expectations of your niche. After selecting your core
cookware company, add things such as cast aluminum, iron, or other specialty cookware items like asparagus steamers, or even more
special purpose items such as the tagine. Remember, you can not take everything, but you have to carry enough do not become so
focused that you lose clients because they feel they need to move elsewhere to get more choices.

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When creating that niche, It's Important to appeal to your Existing customer base, keeping in mind your prospective clients as
well. No matter what you decide, stick with it and set your sights on assisting the consumer understand your choices too.

"There must be a reason for every cookware choice you Make," said Andrew Meisberger, vice president of Different Drummer's Kitchen
headquartered in Lenox, Mass."For cookware, like in whatever we carry, we remain at the high end, and we also encourage that in
terms of breadth of assortment."

"Selling specialty cookware things is another Way specialty shops can further set themselves apart from the competition,"
explained Meisberger. "Larger stockpots, braisers, specialty roasting pans, and Dutch ovens are unique items that often the
competition does not carry." Set yourself apart with a breadth of assortmentnonetheless, if space is an issue, provide a service
other stations of retail cannot or just do not special orders.

Within the frame of your cookware choices, open Stock and set configurations should meet most customers' needs. Sets clearly
provide value, but for some customers the legitimate cooking aficionado or perhaps the cookware collector, open stock allows them
to pick the appropriate cookware for specific purposes.

Better stores will maintain a balance between open stock and Sets, with knowledgeable staff helping direct customers to the proper
choice. "We are very powerful with open stock cookware because most of our clients realize that a number of the things in sets
don't make sense for their requirements," explained Moore. "While the places we take are very utilitarian and allow consumers to
build out there, I do not believe any single firm has it all," she added, stating that lots of collections available at mass
merchants are designed to strike a price point instead of supplying a collection which best suits consumers' needs from the
kitchen.

The pricing edge specialty stores have over traditional Retailers is that their cookware can be costly at an everyday value price
in other words, their cookware is available every day.

"Our philosophy is to offer customers an everyday low Price," explained Meisberger. "The reason we do not have earnings is that we
don't want our clients to feel as if they are not getting a deal unless the cookwareis on sale. When making decisions to sell, we
remain away from cookware that is discounted in other retail channels," he added.

Brand Business

Cookware is very much a Brand company, with consumer trust in a new being one of the most persuasive factors in their buying
choices. Cookware manufacturers have used their particular brand's cache to move into other areas of the kitchen utensils, tools,
and textiles, for example. The endorsements of well known chefs have helped drive specific customers to cookware lines. The move
has gone the other way also, with brands that are established in other kitchen categories now adding cookware to their merchandise
mix.

Moore finds that lesser known brands are more difficult to sell. "It's definitely easier to sell to the customer who has already
been educated through advertisements," she said.

Meisberger agrees to some extent, however, has found success with Quality brands which don't have as much name recognition. "For
cookware manufacturers that don't have high brand recognition, manufacturers have been very proactive in getting customers to try
out the cookware with'Try Me' promotions. As soon as they receive the cookware at the customers' hands, they will come back to us
for more pieces," he explained.

With branding getting such an important part of customer Purchasing choices, it becomes even more important for retailers to
utilize the brand's muscle to its very best potential. Highly visible gadget, cutlery, and appliance businesses are catering to a
market that currently appreciates the quality associated with their new names. By expanding their product lines into the cookware
group, manufacturers will stimulate among consumers a high degree of confidence in the product lineup.

"What is important to the customer if items are branded Across categories is they have the feel, fit, and finish of their goods
with which they are currently comfortable," said one manufacturer who has made the foray into the cookware group, using 80 years
of fresh equity to help promotion on the consumer level. "That brand equity can allow you to leverage into various product
categories."

For retailers, it is a win win situation. "Retailers know That certain brands bring customers in their shop," explained one
manufacturer,"and by providing a branded cookware in addition to the accoutrements for cooking, customers understand the brand
name immediately. The merchant can then merchandise the products together and become a total resource of a high quality brand."

Creating Partnerships

Once you have determined what cookware niche you will Grow, the next step is to locate sellers who will support your requirements.
Manufacturers indicate retailers associate with vendors to build long-lasting relationships. To help with the ventures, sellers
are supporting independent retailers via a dedicated sales force of independent representatives, extended dating programs, the
encouragement of particular orders, the offering of at store fixturing, as well as the coaching of floor employees so when the
product arrives, they know how to position it and sell it. Further, sales incentive competitions make it possible for sales
personnel to obtain cookware in order that they have their own personal experiences with what they're selling all with a objective
to partner with the retailers and let them successfully market cookware.

Set Yourself Apart

Selecting and stocking products to fit a specific client Profile is simply one part of producing your cookware market. Imparting
the value of this cookware to the consumers will help send the cookwarehome together and they'll be happy with their purchases.

To do that, the sales staff has to be educated. High end cookware manufacturers Agree their cookware does best when offered in
formats if the sales ground staff are well educated, as opposed to personnel that simply directs the customer to Aisle Three to
find the cookware.

At the core of the instruction is an understanding of the process In which cookware is produced. Is it cast, stamped, drawn, or
spun? How does the base material has an effect on the way it works? A solid understanding of how it's made and how it performs may
better help the sales staff direct your clients to proper choices.

That advice should always begin with an understanding of how The client cooks. "When the customer is spending this type of cash to
purchase high end cookware," said Meisberger,"you want to ask questions. What are they attempting to do? Do they want something
that is easy to wash? Do they want their cookware to match?" After procuring replies to those questions, guide the clients to
proper cookware choices. In the end, they do not need a high finish aluminum saucepan to cook Spaghetti Os.

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For those clients That Are seeking cookware Unavailable at The Cook's Warehouse,"we just tell the customer that we don't take the
brand they are looking for, but then move right into talking about the advantages of the cookware we do carry," she said. "Some
may have their heart on a particular piece, but we inquire why and begin a conversation about what they are searching for and
supply them with some options."

Another key to developing your cookware niche would be to bring cookware off the shelves. Create eye catching displays and hold
taste tempting and buy causing demos. "It's important to get some type of special event in the shop," said one manufacturer.
Cooking schools definitely help retailers enhance their cookware earnings, but for those people with no school, they must figure
out a way to feature cookware in a place of the shop.

Execute interesting and exciting personable store events events bigger retail channels can't implement. Bring a focus to the
category, keep it fresh by always doing things that make the store exciting for your customer. Give not just great choice and
value, but also make customers see the shop as a social experience part of a community.

By assembling the pieces Breadth of assortment, special requests, regular sale pricing, great Customer service, exciting events
surrounding cookware, you can carve out Your own niche in the growing cookware marketplace.



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