This interview is part of our Moving Forward Blog Series, where we ask major brands how they’re adapting to changing consumer expectations from a loyalty perspective post-pandemic.
In the past 11 months since the pandemic began, there has been a massive shift toward e-commerce which has significantly impacted consumer behavior.
Direct-to-consumer strategies have taken flight for most retailers as they adapted to heightened expectations.
Online shopping has become the norm for millions of Americans, and company officials at Cuisinart were prepared.
More family togetherness due to the pandemic has served Cuisinart quite well.
We caught up with Mary Rodgers, Director of Marketing Communications, Cuisinart, and here’s what she had to say about:
- How the surge toward online shopping has helped Cuisinart
- The value of customer insights
- Being a nimble company and adapting to changed consumer behaviors
- What customer loyalty will look like in the “new” retail reality
Jim Tierney: Consumers have found new behaviors during the pandemic and there has been a seismic shift toward e-commerce. How do you think these new behaviors will impact Cuisinart now and as you emerge from the pandemic?
Mary Rodgers: The online channel is still driving the most attention and is a medium that allows for more precision in targeting consumers along with having extensive content to drive consumer engagement along with purchase consideration.
Also, the direct-to-consumer channel has a keen focus for marketers across all industries and I believe you will continue to see more focus on this channel in all of housewares, including small electrics.
Outside of shopping behaviors, we believe that those related to family togetherness time, cooking for pleasure and stress relief, and experimenting by adding new skills will stay as consumers find satisfaction in self-development and fulfillment.
Anything that has generated a newfound love out of the pandemic will most likely stick.
Jim: How has your company performed since March and what customer insights have you gleaned?
Mary: Several categories contributed to significant growth in 2020, including electrics and cookware. Some of the top categories are Airfryers, Coffeemakers, Ice Cream Makers, cookware, and Waffle makers.
Also, in 2020, bread makers.
For some areas of the country purchasing bread has been difficult, so consumers looked for an easy way to create their own right at home. Bread makers eliminate a lot of the variables that make it difficult for consumers to create perfect results on their own.
It’s simple and easy to include all the ingredients and then set off to homeschooling or WFH while the bread bakes for them. And they get the added benefit of the amazing aroma of fresh-baked bread.
Couldn’t be simpler or easier.
Jim: Listening to your customers is a top priority. How has that changed, if at all, during the pandemic?
Mary: Through our market research, we found that consumers want to use small electric kitchen appliances and tools without being tethered to an outlet.
With that in mind, we introduced several cordless, rechargeable appliances called the EvolutionX collection.
The collection includes a compact travel blender, hand blender, hand mixer, mini chopper, and wine opener.
With the innovative design, solution to a problem, and high-performance results, this collection was popular for holiday sales.
We also found that multifunctional appliances were most sought after.
We launched our Cuisinart Complete Chef Cooking Food Processor, which provides the ease and convenience of prepping and cooking all your ingredients right in one big work bowl, with a temperature range that rivals a stovetop.
The new product expertly guides you through a delicious culinary experience — with 200 integrated recipes, intuitive controls, an interactive full-color digital display, and technology to prep and cook.
Multifunctional and versatile – from chopping, kneading and slicing, to sautéing, simmering, and steaming, and so much more…The CompleteChef™ does it all.
Jim: Having loyal customers is always important for brands. As brands slowly emerge from the pandemic, what are your customer loyalty goals?
Mary: Expectations are very fluid at the moment, as the onset of the pandemic continues to change daily.
In general, most of the categories performing well during this time are some of our best categories during a normalized economy.
Our focus is to understand what sticks in consumer behavior as we exit the pandemic in the future. At Cuisinart, we are staying focused and working to our strength and staying nimble as we move through all the changes now and for the rest of 2021.
Jim: How is Cuisinart responding to consumer behavioral changes and how can the brand leverage these changes to attain greater loyalty?
Mary: I would say there were numerous changes to consumer behavior. Cuisinart is very nimble, so we have been able to pivot very quickly when it comes to our message points.
We noticed very early on, an increase in the items that consumers were looking for, some of which I mentioned like Bread makers, waffle makers, coffee makers, and air fryers. Additionally, our operations, planning, and forecasting teams had to closely manage incoming inventory to meet consumer demand.
Jim: Are there any specific changes or updates you’re planning to make to your loyalty offerings?
Mary: The direct-to-consumer channel has been a keen focus for marketers across all industries and I believe you will see more focus on this channel in all of housewares, including small electrics.
We will continue to make special offers through our email campaigning and personalization as 2021 progresses.
Jim: What do you think customer loyalty will look like in the “new” retail reality?
Mary: Consumers will be looking for experiences that are safe and reliable. Retailers will need to create digital experiences and offerings that will reinforce consumers’ comfort and safety returning to stores.
At Cuisinart, we’re dedicated to serving and engaging our consumers with meaningful materials that inspire, educate, and serve them during these transitional times.
Consumers have higher expectations and loyalty will be driven by the offerings and the methods in which they are delivered.
Cuisinart’s agility and nimbleness as a company has served it well as far as adapting to changed consumer behavior.
Company officials saw how consumers’ home lives were impacted by the pandemic and how cooking had taken on a new meaning as families spent more quality time together.
They also believe that newfound consumer behaviors will likely stick after the pandemic.
Cuisinart is adapting to new consumer behaviors and delivering on those heightened expectations.