The tabletop business sure has changed over the years. I have always enjoyed following this industry because it’s the place where fashion meets practicality, which is a true product development challenge. We all know that our target customer is shifting back to a younger demographic. It’s likely this group of consumers actually grew up in a household where there was no formal dining room, and therefore quite likely no formal china at all. To the credit of the suppliers serving this industry, many brands probably needed to re-think their strategy, and adapt their product lines to reflect how current consumers dine and entertain. Judging from the latest introductions at the recent tabletop market, they have responded with some exciting and attractive products.
I was introduced to this industry working the retail floor at Bloomingdales, where many upscale tabletop brands with premium price points were prevalent. Many of those brands are alive and strong today because they were able to maintain their tradition, while introducing new product lines that were more casual and could be sold at moderate price points. I was quite surprised to find when I toured the Kosta Boda and Orrefors showroom for instance, a brand I associate with “upstairs” tabletop, that they have used their considerable design skills to create attractive products that were priced at a price level I wouldn’t have associated with the brand. By now you probably have heard of the trend “adulting”, which is a term used to describe the buying behavior of the Millennials that are getting to an age where they desire to show some sophistication when they entertain with friends and family by purchasing products that are a notch above in quality and taste from where they traditionally found themselves in the price / quality spectrum. These legacy brands are able to make an impression on this group of value-conscience consumers early on, and hopefully continue to reap the rewards at retail down the road as this group continues to the brand to buy things for their homes.
The residual affect of having such beautiful products at a very reasonable price point, is that a broader range of retailers can now consider having the tabletop category represented in their stores. After all, this is a business that is likely to continue to be sold predominantly at brick and mortar retailers because it’s important to see the products merchandised together, and be able to touch and experience the quality of the glazes apparent in better quality tabletop. The visual experience is something that technology is never going to solve completely in my opinion, especially when you consider the mix and match nature of the business these days. For any of our readers who have not dared to tread on the tabletop business because of it’s fashion component, it’s time for you to take a serious look at this business because it is one that you should own.
Hopefully the following product preview will be helpful in gaining an understanding of where the trends are going.