The kitchen is the heart of the home.  Dream kitchens drive the remodeling industry thanks to HGTV and cooking now qualifies as a hobby rather than a necessity.  How often do you find all of your guests congregating in the kitchen while the living room is empty?  And how many times has your kitchen table doubled for the ideal place for homework, arts and crafts, and doing your taxes?

Both men and women are spending more time preparing meals and entertaining.  Cooking tools have come a long way thanks to retailers such as Target and Williams-Sonoma.  Not only are they driving consumer perceptions that having just the right gadget is critical to a successful meal, but with the wide variety of colors, styles and functionality, they've become part of a home's decor and an expression of the cook's personality.

The promotional products industry has wisely followed the trend.  Giving housewares as promotional items offers a more personal approach that lends itself to a variety of industries such as real estate, insurance, health/wellness, financial and more.  Items used for entertaining such as wine accessories and serving dishes are unique ideas for holiday gifts and incentives.  Housewares are practical, durable items that people are reluctant to dispose of.  The frequency of use and long shelf-life make for excellent retention rates for branding and advertising messages.

Suppliers are broadening their housewares offerings, bringing in everything from high-end wine accessories and serving dishes to less expensive kitchen items such as chip clips and rubber jar openers.  All budget levels can be accommodated as there is such a variety of products available.  Oven mitts, measuring cups and cutting boards are often used daily — and offer various sizes of imprint area.  Kitchen and entertaining items offer unique alternatives to traditional continuity programs as well.  Color-coordinated collections of items can be given together as a larger gift set or spread out, allowing recipients to build a matching set over time.  Items such as wine glasses can be given to a valued client one year and a matching decanter the next.

Giving a useful item for the home allows a brand to become part of the very fabric of a consumer's life, cementing recall and more importantly, loyalty.

~Margit Fawbush

(recently published sidebar in April issue of PPB)

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