In Focus Noritake
Color Kraft Essence
Changing Times In a tumultuous year for business, consumer tastes and shopping habits have changed. Jay Fingert, senior vice president of Noritake’s US operations discusses how they have faced those challenges and are exceeding expectations with their evolving collections.
How is the U.S. tableware market after the disruption of Covid-19? Sales of tableware have been unbelievably good. When retailers brick and mortar locations first shut down in March of 2020, similar to most nonessential goods, sales of tableware all but stopped. But within a few weeks, online sales started to take off. By late May, online retailers and traditional retailers with developed websites were seeing large year-over-year increases. When physical stores began to reopen, they experienced similar sales increases. Noritake’s sales, which have been strong from the start, haven’t slowed down. Sales versus 2019 (LLY) are up at several of our partners. Our only constraints are replenishing our inventory fast enough and keeping up with the orders in our distribution center.
What is trending right now? Almost everything is trending right now. With so many people sharing meals and entertaining family and friends at home, Americans have a growing appreciation for design and craftsmanship. They see their tableware as a reflection of themselves. Color, shape, and texture are trending exceptionally well. While white is always important, bolder, visually interesting designs stand out online and allow people to express their taste. We’re incredibly pleased to be benefiting from American’s renewed appreciation for fine dinnerware. Unsurprisingly, when sales began to take off, it was casual dinnerware that led the way. As the pandemic continued, sales of fine tableware became stronger and stronger. While casual dinnerware continues
to have significant increases and a larger market share, we are seeing more considerable increases in fine tableware in some of our major retailers for the first time in years. Two of the key factors to this renaissance are Charlotta Gold, our microwavesafe embossed gold pattern and the adoption of new configurations based on what we have learned from our casual collections. How is Noritake striving to differentiate itself, especially in an increasingly online marketplace? Differentiating product is part of the equation but communication is the key. Retailers rely on vendors to provide what they need for their websites. Communicating the features and benefits of patterns and collections is paramount. In an online marketplace,
you don’t have the interaction between a consumer and a sales associate. We have to supply retailers cut and paste information about everything - descriptions that explain and romanticize products, information on materials and functionality, and item and lifestyle images - are only the start. To compete in the online world, retailers need more product content from brands, with the demand for styled images and video increasing exponentially. We continue to evolve our lifestyle photography as the need for images grows. You handicap your products if you only provide a standard silhouette image. Online selling requires multiple item and lifestyle images for practically everything. Your imagery has to be aspirational to give customers an idea of how the items can fit into the
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