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COFFEE MAKER SALES PERK UP; DESIGN AND HOME SALES GIVE CATEGORY A CAFFEINE RUSH.

NEW YORK-After generating flat sales for the past several years, the market for automatic drip coffee makers is brewing at retail.

Manufacturers and retailers said recent design innovations and a spurt of new home sales have combined to give this kitchen staple a java jolt.

"We're seeing double-digit increases," said a buyer with a leading department store chain. "Part of it is because companies like Braun and Krups have introduced colors that are appealing to style-conscious consumers."

According to point-of-sale data from The NPD Group, a Port Washington, N.Y.-based market research firm, the total market for automatic drip coffee maker machines is up 8.9 percent in units and 6.7 percent in dollars from January to May 1999 over the same period the previous year. Figures exclude specialty stores.

Coffee maker sales through all channels are up, said Donna Wallace, account manager for the firm. "Department store sales are up 2.1 percent and mass is up 11.1 percent in units." Increased volume comes even as prices drop, with the average unit price of a coffee maker slipping from $25.24 to $24.73. "It is obviously mass driving the total."

Retail sales for automatic drip coffee makers in 1998 had dropped 1.5 percent from the previous year to $371.2 million, according to HFN's 1998 State of the Industry report, compiled through a survey of manufacturers.

Rolf Larsen, chief operating officer for Krups, said that sales of drip coffee makers tend to mimic housing starts. "When you look at the market over six years, coffee makers are a stable business, developing at the same ratio as the number of households," Larsen pointed out.

And even though the category has a high marketplace saturation, Larsen said most consumers replace their coffee makers every five years.

That replacement market makes innovative design important, Larsen said. "People change coffee makers when they see something that is better than what they own."

However, the current redecorating craze has also helped boost sales. "When colors are available in other countertop appliances, it is not a replacement market, the mind set is `let's redecorate the kitchen inexpensively,' " said the buyer. Because of that trend, the entry into the automatic drip coffee maker market by KitchenAid, which already has a strong color presence in countertop, "was exciting," said the buyer.

The ADC category was launched in 1972 with Mr. Coffee, the first automatic drip coffee maker. Mr. Coffee gained mass appeal when Joe DiMaggio signed up to promote the product. Now, automatic drip is by far the most popular way to brew a cup of coffee, with ADC machines accounting for nearly 80 percent of category sales, said several industry source.

Innovation continues to bring consumers on board. "People enjoy having [new] features," said a buyer for a department store chain based in the Southeast. "What's hot are units with water filtration. I also like units with removable water tanks like the new Hamilton-Beach line, and those coming from Salton under its Melitta brand."

Consumers are also responding to machines that include milk frothers and automatic coffee grinders. "Our Grind and Brew is by far our most popular coffee maker," said Mary Rodgers, senior marketing communications manager for Cuisinart. Braun is coming out with a model that features a milk frothing attachment after its research showed Americans bought espresso machines for the milk frother, not the espresso, said product manager Debbi Walter.

Innovation cuts across all channels, said Dave Kerr, senior product manager for Hamilton Beach/Proctor-Silex. "Making things easier for the consumer at the more affordable end of the line is also contributing to the growth," Kerr added.
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Comment:COFFEE MAKER SALES PERK UP; DESIGN AND HOME SALES GIVE CATEGORY A CAFFEINE RUSH.
Author:Porter, Thyra
Publication:HFN The Weekly Newspaper for the Home Furnishing Network
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 28, 1999
Words:608
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