Retail Observer

January 2021

The Retail Observer is an industry leading magazine for INDEPENDENT RETAILERS in Major Appliances, Consumer Electronics and Home Furnishings

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RETAILOBSERVER.COM JANUARY 2021 54 I t's been more than a century since the United States endured a pandemic proportionate to the impact of COVID-19. In 1918 roughly 675,000 Americans were killed by the H1N1 flu. In the wake of that virus, people wanted to break with tradition, have fun and interact with others unlike ever before. So it's no wonder that the next decade became known as the "Roaring Twenties." Much like 1920, 2020 will go down in history as a year when everything changed – but for an entirely different reason. As someone who loves human interaction, it feels to me like the decade has started as "the Boring Twenties." But I'm hopeful that the present trend won't define the decade. However, there are three key trends I do predict will linger, especially when it comes to outdoor living. PSYCHOGRAPHIC TRENDS While it's been an awful year in so many ways, companies that sell home-related products have benefited from the stay-at-home requirement. The need to replace failing products, and interest in upgrading, have never been stronger. Normally, about 60% of grills are replaced because they are under duress. And while the raw number of grills being replaced will have increased, I don't anticipate the overall percentage to rise. Why? Because consumers have broken away from only cooking food fast on a gas grill. Low and slow cooking or smoking foods have become trends instead of fads. And the stay-at-home / work-from-home environment has inspired many Americans to develop new interests and hobbies, including aspiring to the title of "BBQ / Grill Master." But is grilling still a man's world? According to Elizabeth Karmel, a.k.a. Grill Girl, "Industry statistics show that women are grilling out more often and are taking charge of the grill for more occasions." What does this mean for you? DO NOT let the stubborn stereotype of the male as the only target consumer affect your go-to-market execution. GRILL / FUEL TYPE TRENDS According to the Hearth, Patio and BBQ Association, 30% of U.S. consumers own two grill types, and 12% own three. The trend coming out of 2020 will create continued growth in multi-grill ownership. Your action plan needs to include merchandising for all types of fuel: gas, charcoal, wood and pellets. For urban markets, you may want to include electric grill options as well. While the largest dollar volume comes from gas grills – followed by charcoal and/or wood, pellet and electric – the fastest-growing fuel type is pellet. Pellet grill sales grew 20%+ prior to 2020, and as this year closes pellet grill sales increases of more than 30%+ were constrained only by manufacturing / parts supply. I know of many dealers selling pellet grills ONLY, driving six-figure revenue to their top lines AND very healthy gross margin dollars to their bottom lines. Pellet grills aren't the only category seeing growth. Lump charcoal and wood-based grills/smokers are also on the rise. Kamado Joe is narrowing the gap on Big Green Egg's dominance in kamado style- grills. And Argentinian-style cooking with wood, like the Ñuke (new-kay) brand, is growing in popularity. GRILL INNOVATION & STYLING WiFi-based control systems are all the rage. This is especially true in pellet grills, such as Traeger, Louisiana Grills, Broil King and Weber. Not only does this feature allow you to manage your grill temperature from anywhere, but some controllers even allow you to use built-in recipes to enhance ease of use. When will WiFi come to gas grills? One possibility lies with a Germany-based brand called Otto Wilde that recently closed a Kickstarter fund that garnered nearly $4.5M to help build their G32 model, which would be the first smart modular gas grill. More on that later. What else is new? While outdoor kitchens continue to enjoy double- digit growth, the latest offerings by several suppliers feature modular outdoor kitchen products that piece together AND are mobile. Plus, colors are now starting to replace traditional stainless steel finishes on gas grills. 2021 & BEYOND 2020 has proved that independent dealers are the most tenacious and flexible retailers of all, and they've morphed their business execution to best meet the environment. 2021 will be the "come-back year" for consumers shopping local with personal store interaction. Make your plans NOW for event marketing by promoting live demonstrations. Appeal to their senses, because they CANNOT wait to get out of the house. Trust me on that. 2020 CHANGED EVERYTHING – BBQ & GRILL TRENDS John Laing Outdoor Trends John Laing—Director of Appliances and Outdoor Living, Nationwide Marketing Group RO

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