Trends to watch at K/BIS
At the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show (K/BIS), one can always see trends from all over the map—classic designs for traditional renovations and ultra-trendy new products that seem to be imported from the future.
Kitchen and bath trends tend to diverge in many different directions, particularly because those two rooms are the most often renovated in the home. But overall, organizers of the K/BIS show point to data that recognizes new pockets of strength in the kitchen and bath market.
“Although the slowdown has affected many of the manufacturers who are deriving much of their sales from new housing, we have found that the remodeling sector has a more promising outlook,” explained show director Cory Smith, vp-kitchen and bath for Nielsen Business Media.
Smith pointed to a market research study conducted for K/BIS that highlights the do-it-for-me category as a source of new strength. While bathroom remodeling projects are projected to fall by 14 percent in 2008, bathroom do-it-for-me projects are expected to grow by 22 percent, according to the data. In all, kitchen and bath do-it-for-me projects are expected to rise by 12 percent in the next year.
The show is slated for April 11 to 13 at McCormick Place in Chicago, with a conference starting one day earlier on April 10. The show has seen an upswing in certain exhibitors, including cabinet-makers, stone surface manufacturers and tile manufacturers, Smith said, because of new exhibits planned in those areas.
“We have introduced a cabinetry pavilion at this year’s show and have seen an increase in the number of manufacturers exhibiting as a result,” he said, adding the show also has introduced a new “Natural Stone and Tile Pavilion.”
Major retailers are honing in on kitchen and bath categories for the new year, particularly with the new interest in do-it-for me projects. Craig Menear, executive vp-merchandising for Home Depot, told company investors Feb. 26 that the company would be focusing on kitchens and bath fixtures as two categories targeted for market share growth in 2008.
At the new Home Depot Design Center in Charlotte, N.C., store manager Melinda Carter said a wide variety of kitchen vignettes and a wall of multicolored Viking range options have catered to the ever-present trend of consumers wanting choice.
“That’s been a long-term thing, that we’ve seen at Expo as well, people wanting more and more choice, especially in color,” Carter said.
At Lowe’s, the past year saw some strength in the kitchen and bath categories. President and COO Larry Stone said in the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call that “In rough plumbing we had success with our clean air and water filtration programs.”
Additionally, Bob Hull, executive vp and CFO at Lowe’s said the company saw strength in fashion plumbing and appliances—two categories that perform ed above average in 2007.
For smaller retailers, the luxury market has proven to be a strong demographic.
Margaret Dean, a senior designer and showroom manager at Design Studio West in La Jolla, Calif., caters to an upscale clientele. She’s noted an upswing in young professionals upgrading their IKEA kitchens in favor of something higherend.
“This concept of the kitchen as the center of the home has been around for a while,” she said. “But we’re seeing it come up with young professionals, entrepreneurs. The medium to high-end market has been pretty steady.”
Another trend she has seen has been in single-basin sinks for kitchens. “Most people use the dishwasher to soak dishes now, so getting rid of the two pieces is just another way to conserve space.”
On the other end of the demographic spectrum, research from data firm Synovate indicates many bath trends have grown “older,” and there have been some notable DIY additions.
George Griffin, vp-multi client group for Synovate, noted some other trends that have been moving up in popularity, according to the firm’s research:
“Walk-in tubs are popping up,” particularly for older consumers—the high-end walk-in bathtubs are primarily geared toward an affluent, 65-and-over demographic.
Showerheads are rising in cost and complexity, Griffin said. The replacement market for showerheads, both from the low and high ends, is trending up.
One-piece toilets have seen an upswing in popularity. The products are marketed as relatively hassle-free DIY bathroom products for the true do-it-yourselfer, he said.
Some familiar trends likely will make their way back to the show floor this year, if the International Builders’ Show is any indication. There, vessel sinks, energy-efficient new appliances and water-saving toilets certified under the Environmental Protection Agency’s new WaterSense program were prominent.
Additionally, while brushed nickel and oil-rubbed bronze finishes have been popular in the last few years, look for a warmer nickel finish—or, if you prefer, a cooler brass finish—in offerings from Kohler, Moen, Delta, Design House and more.
In deed the kitchen and bath market will bring a whole host of varied trends to the table—after April, we’ll see for certain which of those trends catches the imagination of consumers.
Orchard Supply names new execs
San Jose, Calif.-based Orchard Supply Hardware (OSH) has announced the appointment of Robert Burgess as associate vp-consumer marketing; and Janis Healy as associate vp-visual merchandising.
Burgess has a 20-year career in developing consumer strategies, having held senior marketing positions with Verizon, West Marine and major consumer marketing agencies, including Rupp Collins and Bunn Forbes.
Healy has a 30-year career of leading store theater and visual brand positioning at several retailers, including Petco, West Marine and Best Buy. Healy most recently served as associate vp-visual merchandising and store design at West Marine.
Both positions will report to Tom Carey, chief marketing officer at OSH.
Sears launches ‘ReImagine You’ campaign
Hoffman Estates, Ill.-based Sears has launched a new marketing campaign in an effort to boost excitement about the brand in the wake of the company’s less-than-optimistic year-end financial results.
The campaign, called “ReImagine You,” launched March 1 and will run to the end of May. The push is aimed toward helping consumers find interesting and economical ways to improve their homes.
“ ‘ReImagine You’ aims to inspire imaginations and provide the tools and advice to make practical dreams a reality,” the company said in a release. Specifically, the company plans to use spokespeople including Eric Stromer, host of HGTV’s “Over Your Head,” and Ty Pennington, handyman for ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.”
Sears has launched a Web site, reimagineyourself.com, featuring tips from Stromer, Pennington, NYC interior designer Eric Cohler and an expert on “green” home improvements, Deborah Barrow.
The company also plans to renovate the homes of 70 veterans of the armed forces on April 26 as part of National Rebuilding Day.