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issue: March 2003 APPLIANCE Magazine

International Housewares Show 2003
Continuing to Cocoon

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ON LOCATION... APPLIANCE magazine traveled to Chicago, IL, U.S., to report on the 2003 International Housewares Show.

Although the International Housewares show was held in uncertain times - a sluggish U.S. economy, the specter of possible war, and continued fears of terrorism - the show was a launching pad for new product introductions, as consumers continue to cocoon and purchase housewares.

The International Housewares Show, held Jan. 12-14 in Chicago, IL, U.S., and sponsored by the International Housewares Association (IHA), is more than just a market displaying thousands of new products for the home. Instead, the tradeshow often serves as a launching pad for companies to enter into product areas, and as a barometer for future business trends.

For example:

  • Maytag entered the housewares category with a cordless iron.
  • Philips Electronics launched baby care products.
  • Haier America launched range hoods and a water cooler.
  • Sharp Electronics launched an air purifier.
  • Hoover introduced an air cleaner.
  • Salton launched wireless vacuum cleaner (under the Westinghouse brand).
  • Viking Range launched a blender.
  • Electrolux introduced a stand mixer.

This year, as it was the year before, the "cocooning movement," or the trend towards consumers transforming their homes into personal sanctuaries, continues very strongly, even in tough times. While a sluggish global economy took its toll on many industries in 2001, industry sales of housewares in 2001 rose to U.S. $75.3 billion, up from $69.5 billion in 2000, according to IHA's 2002 State of the Industry Report. More encouragingly, the average sales growth on housewares over the last 5 years topped 7 percent per year, according to the report.

In stressful times, consumers seek more comfort in their environments and stronger connections with family and friends, said A.J. Riedel of Riedel Marketing Group and editor of IHA's Housewares MarketWatch newsletter. Consumers are seeking products that encourage family togetherness, promote quality family time, and support family traditions. Ms. Riedel cited categories such as tabletop and dinnerware, candles and fireplace/hearth products, board games and entertainment products, popcorn poppers, photo albums, comfort foods, and decorations and collectibles for Christmas and other holiday seasons as strong sellers in 2003. Ms. Riedel also predicts that feel-good products, such as stress-relieving massagers, health care, and personal care items, also will continue to sell well.

Indulgences are not just limited to products. Consumers may indulge in a home remodeling or redecorating project that provides the same "feel-good" senses. For many, the laundry room has become the room to have. According to Ms. Riedel, the laundry room has become the new status symbol. In a September 2002 survey by the National Association of Home Builders, Ms. Riedel noted home buyers ranked a separate laundry room not just a space for a washer and dryer as the most coveted design feature in a house. She observed that it beat out 88 other features, including a bathroom linen closet (No. 2), a separate dining room (No. 8), and a walk-in pantry (No. 9.).

Maytag Appliances (Newton, IA, U.S.) officially entered the housewares arena with its introduction of a cordless iron at the show. According to Annette Bravard, brand manager at Maytag, the iron will help Maytag to expand its product categories and find new markets.

"A cordless iron is such an easy fit because we're already very strong in laundry," she told APPLIANCE. "An iron is a natural extension for us." The iron will be sold directly to consumers via the Maytag web site and through direct mailings, and eventually, through retail outlets. The iron is equipped with an iron "cradle" that acts as a docking station. Each time the iron is placed on the cradle, it is energized with a 1,440-W power boost. The iron also features a titanium sole plate that has a smooth, scratch-resistant surface. A stainless steel sole plate is also available. Other features include an ergonomically designed handle that allows the user to iron right-handed or left-handed, or switch from one hand to another, and a heat-resistant Therma-Dome carrying case that can be snapped onto the loading dock while the iron is still hot, enabling it to be put away safely before cooling down. APPLIANCE Magazine photo.

Innovations in Blenders

As part of the ongoing expansion of its Culinary Products Division, Viking Range Corporation (Greenwood, MS, U.S.) entered the small kitchen electric market for the first time with the introduction of a blender at the show. The 2-speed blender is the first of what will be a line of about six premium small kitchen appliances, said Dave Becker, vice president of Product Management for Viking. In addition to the 2-speed operation, the blender has a pulse feature, and can be stored in two pieces. It comes in gray, black, white, graphite gray, burgundy, and cobalt blue finishes. It also features a 40-oz glass jar that has measurement markings and is dishwasher safe. A stainless steel jar is available as well.

Hamilton-Beach (Glen Allen, VA, U.S.) unveiled its Classic Chrome Blender that features 550 W, hi/low/pulse options, and an extra-large (48-oz) glass jar. "Chrome is timeless, ageless, and now," said Dave Kerr, marketing director for the company.

The company also showed its Stay or Go™ blender that is topped with a lidded thermal travel cup for blending a range of to-go drinks, smoothies, ice drinks, and power beverages. For times when the portable travel jar is not needed, a stand-in, 48-oz glass jar is available. A SureLoc™ safety base, exclusive to Hamilton-Beach blenders, provides another level of security by locking the jar to the base.

Power and size are the features in the SmartPower Premier™ blender offered by Cuisinart (Stamford, CT, U.S.). The 600-W blender features cast metal and stainless construction, along with hi/low/pulse features. The 50-oz glass jar is said to make it simple to double or triple recipes, according to Mary Rodgers, director of Marketing Communications for the company. The blender also has a Count-Up timer with a digital display that keeps track of blending time, so each recipe is followed, and a continuous beep after 5 min of blending time, to ensure that ingredients are not over processed. "Consumers want a blender that is easy to use on a daily basis, but powerful enough to accommodate large crowds on special occasions," Ms. Rodgers said.

T-Fal expanded its food preparation range with its first hand blender featuring ergonomic styling and easy cleaning. The 1-speed, 200-W hand blender is designed with a front-facing power button with the electric cord at the back. The power button has a large, nubby-textured, non-slip rubber finish. On the opposite side are rubber rubs for secure handling.

Upscale Toasters

Many companies are introducing new toasters with sporty designs and features, as the upscale toaster business grows.

Rowenta (Melford, MA, U.S.), for example, has been targeting the premium toaster segment, most recently with a new range of 2- and 4-slice toasters that combine premium features with new, modern designs. A 46-in warming unit platform on top of the toasters reportedly warms 25-percent faster than toaster ovens, and five-times faster than traditional wire-rack bun warmers.

Cuisinart launched a 2-slice model that reportedly features one of the widest slots on the market (1 3/4 in), allowing consumers to toast oversized slices of specialty breads, muffins, and deli-sized bagels. Additional features of the toaster include reheat, defrost, and cancel button controls, along with a slide out crumb tray, and cord storage.

T-Fal (Pine Brook, NJ, U.S.) launched a new toaster with an interactive feature - a visual display that counts down, from minutes to seconds, the elapsed toasting time. The digital countdown is fully adjustable at any point in a cycle. A re-heat function warms previously toasted bread; waffle and defrost functions cater to specific morning fare; and a 9-position electronic browning system is said to ensure consistent toasting each time.

Commercial Quality

Lack of time, combined with a desire for convenience, is prompting many consumers to purchase high-quality products that provide professional results at home. Items such as commercial quality kitchen tools allow consumers to save time and money by recreating the professional experience within the home.

To meet that need, KitchenAid (Benton Harbor, MI, U.S.) announced a new line of eight commercial-designed appliances. The KitchenAid® Pro Line™ collection combines high power with commercial capacity and design to provide professional, quality performance. Products in the line include a blender, burr coffee grinder, coffee maker, espresso machine, frozen dessert maker, food processor, toaster, and waffle baker.

"As for styling, the [The Pro Line] appliances are designed to look professional, but not industrial," said Brian Maynard, KitchenAid Brand director, Integrated Marketing.

For example, the commercial blender features a high-efficiency motor that reaches speeds up to 24,000 rpm. Stainless steel cutting in the commercial burr coffee grinder is said to ensure consistency in grinding, and can be adjusted to compensate for wear or calibrated to meet standards. The ProLine™ coffee maker features 12-cup glass carafe, a die-cast metal base, and a stainless steel commercial boiler versus traditional aluminum tubing for durability. The ProLine™ dessert maker, a first in this product category from KitchenAid, features a self-contained refrigeration unit housed in brushed stainless steel.

Unlike the vertical freezing cylinders of conventional frozen dessert makers, the appliance has a commercial horizontal freezing cylinder to control the amount of air mixed into the dessert. And, the ProLine™ commercial quality waffle maker is a double-sided "clam shell" baking unit that can be rotated to allow the batter to flow into areas where it may not otherwise reach.

Electrolux North America (Augusta, GA, U.S.), known for its major appliances and floor care products, launched the Electrolux Assistent Swedish stand mixer. The mixer has been a staple in European homes since 1940. It has a 450-W motor located in the bottom of the unit and an 8-quart stainless steel bowl.

According to Eddie Johannson of the company, the Assistent offers professional results and versatility, and is heralded by cooks throughout the world for its high-quality performance in bread and pastry making. It weighs only 19 lb, and may be turned on its side to accommodate attachments.

Major Appliances

The Housewares show is a relatively recent venue for major appliances, albeit an increasingly important one.

Sharp Electronics displayed its new high-speed oven, which is said to dramatically reduce cooking time. According to Joy Weiss Daniel, product manager for Microwave Ovens, the new oven uses super-heated air to cook the food 2-5 times faster than traditional ovens. The oven works by air that is forced into the food cooked at very fast speeds. It has two heaters and 2,900 W of resistance. It also features 84 basic food recipes representing nine categories (appetizers/snacks, fish/seafood, poultry, meats, casseroles, desserts, cakes/breads, pies, and pizza). The oven has two turntables (racks) for two-level baking, a stainless steel front, silver painted cabinet, and easy-to-clean interior finish. Ms. Daniel told APPLIANCE that for now, the oven won't be found in traditional "box" stores such as

Best Buy and Target, but will be sold through high-end channels.
In addition to showing a new line of range hoods and a water cooler, Haier America (New York, NY, U.S.) exhibited its 6.6-lb capacity portable washer with electronic controls. Pankaj Paleja, product manager for the company, said that Haier is adding to its line with pieces ranging from 3.3-lb to 19.8-lb capacities as portable washers continue to grow as an essential housewares item for small spaces and specialty uses. Mr. Paleja added that traditional portable washers do not have electronic controls, which is why Haier's new washer is unique.

Building on the need for small appliances for small spaces, Haier also exhibited its counter-top freezer. The unit is 1.3 cu ft and has an adjustable thermostat control, reversible door design, and a manual defrost feature. Haier is marketing it as the perfect freezer to complement compact- and apartment-size freezers, or as a solution to in-home bars or special occasions.

Samsung Electronics (Ridgefield Park, NJ, U.S.), which recently was named one of the world's Top 100 brands by BusinessWeek magazine, showed its entire line of full-size refrigerators - its bottom-freezer, and side-by-side models - one of the few companies at the show to exhibit larger appliances. All of Samsung's refrigerators utilize the company's Twin Cooling System, Multiple Flow Air Vents, and Digital Temperature Display and

Control to ensure fresher, healthier food preservation. The Twin Cooling System offers independent control of the refrigerator and the freezer; and individual evaporators and fans to maintain humidity, temperature, and cooling performance. The Air Vents distribute cool air evenly with outlets on every shelf and drawer.

Due to Haier America's success in the housewares category, buyers have been asking for additional products, says Rebecca Espinueva, public relations manager. As a result, Haier launched a water cooler with a refrigerated compartment on the bottom that has an adjustable/removable shelf. There are two additional versions with built-in storage compartments, one with a see-through door, and one opaque. A desktop version of the water cooler has the same 2-, 3-, and 5-gal water bottle capacities, with dimensions at 13-in x 13-in x 18 1/8-in.

Personal Care

According to Jim Cataldi, brand manager for Dr. Scholl's Appliances for Helen of Troy in El Paso, TX, U.S., there is an increasing trend towards consumers to self medicate. "Baby boomers are driving this industry," he told APPLIANCE. "We are living in a time when people don't go out as much, but people still want to do things to make themselves feel better, and they can do that at home with our products."

Helen of Troy has been working with Dr. Scholl's Appliances for 5 years, licensing its line of personal care products such as hand massagers, paraffin hand waxers, manicure sets, facial brushes, and pore refiners, all of which were exhibited at the show. The appliances were shown in feminine colors with soft lines, "to give it a more cleaner look," said Trish Licon-Delgado, brand manager for Revlon Spa Appliances for the company.

Another personal care appliance maker that was focused on meeting consumer needs was Wahl Clipper in Sterling, IL, U.S., which launched its METRO line, a range of clippers, trimmers, and shavers specifically created for Hispanic and African-American families. "The Hispanic and African-American demographic segments have become a larger force in the marketplace every year," said Scott Andersen, Wahl's vice president of Sales and Marketing, citing statistics that show that the African-American consumer comprises 30 percent of total U.S. hair-care expenditure, yet accounts for only 13 percent of the population, while the Hispanic population has grown 58 percent in the past 10 years, and by 2010 is projected to reach 56 million.

The Wahl METRO bump-preventing shaver is said to provide a close shave and reduce the likelihood of razor bumps. It has an open blade design that cuts off the whiskers with a blunt edge as opposed to the pointed edge left by a razor blade. Therefore, the whisker is less likely to grow back into the skin.

For the first time, Philips North America had one booth at the show with a united front of brands. Philips exhibited products for the U.S. and Canadian markets, including men's grooming (Norelco and Philishave), lighting oral care, home medical, domestic appliances, and baby care. "We believe that showing all areas together will provide a better understanding of all we do," said Rob Westerhof, president and CEO of Philips North America. Shown is one of the products in the company's new line of baby care products: the LCD Baby Monitor, which features an integrated thermometer and LCD display. A Talk-button on the monitor allows a parent to reassure baby by letting it hear a parent's voice.

Gourmet Coffee Makers
Despite the proliferation of neighborhood coffee bars, the majority of coffee preparation still takes place in the home. According to the National Coffee Association's National Coffee Drinking Trends 2002 Report, 62 percent of all "gourmet coffee" is prepared at home. (Gourmet coffee is defined as premium whole beans or ground variety.)

As such, Cuisinart has created a coffee maker that can create flavorful, fresh-tasting coffee without going out to get it. The keystone of the company's Grind & Brew™ line is that the whole beans are ground just before brewing, ensuring fresh coffee. One of the most significant benefits of the coffeemaker, said Ms. Rodgers of the company, is the separation of the grinding chamber from the grinder basket. This design is said to reduce moisture in the grinding chamber, making it easier for consumers to clean the machine after each use. Another new feature is a charcoal water filter that removes impurities from the water and improves the coffee's flavor.

Hamilton-Beach is bringing back coffee percolators. The company's stainless steel percolator is making coffee making an event, and not a chore, said Brian Schwartz, senior product manager for the company. A large, ergonomic handle on the appliance is said to ensure for a solid grip for larger hands, while a drip-free spout helps filling and pouring. Interior fill markings for both water and coffee grounds take the guesswork out of filling.

According to Hamilton-Beach, coffee urns are making a comeback in a big way. The company brought back the sturdy, trusty coffee urn with an updated design and improved safety features. A large, easy-to-read water interior water level markings is said to take the guesswork out of filling. Brewing speed, powered by 1,100 W, is maximized at a cup per minute, and when the bright ready-to-serve indicator light flashes on, a two-way dispenser provides pouring versatility for a cup at a time or continuous pouring when coffee pots need to be filled. Safety features include a twist-lock lid and a internal monitor boil dry safety shutoff.

Hamilton-Beach also exhibited its Cappuccino Espresso Maker with a 15-bar pressure Italian pump and easy froth feature. ESE pods are prepackaged, perfectly ground, measured, and tamped packets of espresso coffee that look like teabags. Each ESE pod produces one shot of espresso. Mr. Schwartz said that until this product, no one has been able to deliver a quality performer in the home espresso market at a reasonable price, adding that other products with the same powerful pump and pods filter holder cost much more.

Microwave Ovens

LG Electronics (Seoul, Korea) recently claimed that in November 2002 it was named number one in global manufacturing capabilities of microwave ovens by the Fuji Research Institute Corporation at LG Electronics world headquarters. LG Electronics said that it has a 23-percent share of the world microwave oven market from sales of more than 12 million units in 2002.

There's no doubt that the company has been a strong competitor in the microwave oven industry since June 1981. In addition to its original Korean facility, LG has built factories in the UK, China, and Brazil, which have a cumulative total production of 75 million microwave ovens.

The company recently launched two new round cavity microwave ovens to its home appliance line. The interior cavity is said to provide a larger turntable than conventional microwaves, which enhances even cooking, cleaning, and energy saving. With no edges to clean, the company said the round cavity prevents dirt and mold build-up, making cleaning easier. Both appliances feature 1,200 W of power, and one model features a 1.4-cu-ft cavity, a 16-in turntable diam, sensor cook technology, and inverter technology.

LG also introduced its Glide & Cook microwave oven, which features a sliding tray system that allows consumers to cook food in 10-x 15-in rectangular dishes instead of round dishes. "This is a great development for home chefs," said Simon Kang, president of LG's Home Appliance Division. "By enabling users to cook more food thoroughly in larger dishes, the Glide & Cook makes microwave oven cooking for family and guests as easy as cooking for one person."

Also introducing a round microwave oven was Samsung Electronics. According to Dan Baxley, director of Marketing for the company, for years, Samsung has worked to offer quality products that benefit consumers. The new microwave ovens are small on the outside and big on the inside, providing 1.0-cu-ft interior capacity while only taking up an exterior space of 0.8-cu-ft compact oven. This feature, said Mr. Baxley, increases the cooking area of the microwave by 20 percent, and increases the diameter of the dishes one can place in the unit by 10 percent. With the extra space, Mr. Baxley said time is saved by heating up two small dishes/bowls together.

Samsung also introduced its Toast & Bake Microwave Oven, a three-in-1 kitchen appliance that combines a toaster oven, a 1,750 W grill, and a 1.0-cu-ft microwave oven. All three functions are activated via instant touch pads on the front panel. Other features include a ceramic enamel interior for easy cleaning, a pull-down door handle, and two level rack holders for multiple tray or rack positioning.

The oven uses Samsung's multi-grill heating system, which automatically moves into place when activated. As a toaster, the appliance toasts up to four slices of bread without turning, using the top browning and bottom crisping heaters, and a special toast rack provided with the unit. When broiling or baking foods, the oven offers consumers the option of placing either the included broil rack or baking tray. As a microwave oven, the appliance uses a turntable for even cooking or reheating, and incorporates Samsung's one-touch cooking pads.

LG Electronics introduced its combination toaster and microwave oven that features a 2-slice toaster and 0.9-cu-ft microwave oven. It also features 900 W of power for the microwave and 800 W of power for the toaster, a horizontal key pad, nine browning levels, and a stainless steel finish.

Floor Care

Consumers are also becoming more conscious of keeping their homes clean. A recent Home Business Study reports that men are more likely than women to say, "Cleaning is something we do frequently."

Eureka (Bloomington, IL, U.S.), which always has an impressive product demonstration at the show, demonstrated the power of its True HEPA sealed filtration. To prove a point about the superior filtering performance of its LiteSpeed upright, the company filled a chamber with smoke and a firefighter equipped with a breathing apparatus. The demonstration was to show the benefits of True HEPA filtration as the Eureka vacuum was switched on and the smoke chamber is cleared using only the vacuum. Kathryn Luedke, public relations director for the company, said that Eureka's WhirlWind LiteSpeed bagless upright cleaner actually draws all the air in the chamber through the sealed filter and the smoke disappears.

Ms. Luedke said that Eureka has sealed the air pathway on the WhirlWind LiteSpeed. The air must pass through the pleated True HEPA filter before it exits back into the room. The LiteSpeed retains 99.97 percent of all particles down to 0.3 microns. It picks up the dirt, captures it, and holds on to the smallest particles, including smoke.

Dirt Devil in Glenwillow, OH, U.S. exhibited its new Platinum Force™ Vision Bagless Upright that has a patented dirt path - one that is shorter, wider, and located in the center of the nozzle - for more suction power. It features a 12-A motor, and a HEPA Filtration System that the company said traps 100 percent of pollens and ragweed, and more than 99.97 percent of dust and allergens. It also features a MotorGuard® system, which protects the motor from damage.

The company's new Breeze® Bagless Upright weighs only 12 lb, yet has 12 A of cleaning power. Instead of vacuum bags, dirt is vacuumed into a clear dirt container that has MicroFresh® filtration, and is said to trap 99.9 percent of dust and allergens. Pushing a button releases the spring-loaded cap to lift out the dirt container. "We're really excited about the new Breeze Bagless Upright," said Rick Farone, executive vice president of Sales, Marketing, and Engineering at Dirt Devil. "Along with its powerful performance, the price of this vacuum is exceptional." Other features of the vacuum include a scuff guard bumper, a 25-ft power cord with quick release, and foot controls.

Ingenuity and Optimism

From the point of view of housewares executives, 2002 posed unique challenges.

"These times seem a bit uncertain…but I don't think anything's changed about the nesting phenomenon," said Linda Graebner, president/CEO of Tilia, Inc., in San Francisco, CA, U.S. "As consumers see their portfolios shrink, they're probably going to be inclined to nest more - which puts them in the kitchen and buying kitchen products. My expectation is that they'll go back to the tried and true, the brands they know, convenient products like ours (vacuum packaging systems) that save them money. They won't go for the faddish sorts of things."

While Mark Bissell, president and CEO of BISSELL, Inc., Grand Rapids, MI, U.S., believes that the overall economy is "tough" for everyone - with no second half recovery visible - he sees several opportunities. "The market in our industry is very dynamic," he said. "Just the fact that we have some new players coming in, which we haven't had for a while, is interesting. It's just not the same old business anymore. Product life cycles are short. You have to make your money quickly and move on to the next item. The retailer concentration going on also is a trend, and that's accelerated. The big box stores are dominating our business today."

As the industry heads into 2003 there will be new challenges, as well as lingering ones, such as the U.S. West Coast dock strike, which Mr. Bissell observed, "showed how the world has become a global economy, how sensitive it is, and how it doesn't take much to disrupt it."

"The other thing going on, of course, is that the population continues to age," added Tilia's Ms. Graebner. We're trying to make our buttons easier to push, make the machines more 'idiot-proof.' Since I'm time-starved, I should be able to walk up to one of our products and make it work without opening the manual. I think consumers are going to look for that in all categories."

After meeting these challenges, Mr. Brandl of IHA said that the housewares industry is well positioned to continue the 7-percent average annual growth it has experienced over the last 5 years. With the consumer at home more often, a creative home and housewares products industry will be the beneficiary.

The 2004 International Housewares Show will move to new dates in 2004 and will be held at McCormick Place from Saturday, March 20 through Monday, March 22, 2004. In addition to the date change, the 2004 show also will feature new categories, including a Gourmet Home District (GOHO) that will feature gourmet specialty foods, a rapidly growing category in traditional housewares retail channels. The GOHO District also will feature food tasting, celebrity chef appearances, and a retailer education program.

Show Statistics & More New Products

Total registration for the 2002 International Housewares Show was just more than 56,000, a slight increase over last year's 55,959 registrants. The show also featured 1,780 exhibitors, including 429 new companies, 521 international companies, and more than 100 international design leaders.

Reflecting the growing global nature of the event, show attendees from outside the U.S. comprised nearly 30 percent of total attendees and represented 103 countries and 6 continents. Exhibitors at the 2003 show from outside the U.S. grew by 8 percent over 2001, making up nearly 30 percent of total exhibitors.

More New Products Seen at the 2003 Housewares Show
  • A chest-style freezer with a glass top and built-in drawer that is ideal for keeping frozen food such as ice cream at a ready-to-eat temperature.
  • A bathroom scale that stores, recalls, and displays the user's weight history for up to 2 years. It also can be used as a conventional scale or the readout can be mounted at eye level.
  • An updated, "smart" slow cooker that features 200 recipes programmed into the digital appliance, making it more convenient and versatile.
  • A roasting machine that locks in juices and seals in flavor and can also be used for baking as well as steaming rice, vegetables, and seafood.
  • Quieter deep cleaning vacuums that are narrower and can fit easier on stairs.
  • An electric appliance that can make froth and hot beverages as well as prepare sauces, dips and desserts.

It's Shamrock Green for 2003

As consumers spend more time and money on their homes, color has taken on a new importance in housewares. The color for 2003? It's shamrock green, or the new yellow, which was retired in favor of a vivid, yet vintage green.

According to the International Housewares Association (IHA), people want their homes "to reflect their personalities, and that means they want color choices beyond white, beige, and almond." Consumers also are looking for hues that make them feel comfortable and secure. Shamrock apparently has met that need because it reminds consumers of nature. IHA says that consumers' concerns and fears, along with their search for security and safety has manifested into soft, muted colors such as blue greens, copper and metallics, and conservative, neutral colors such as browns and earth tones.

"Initially after 9/11, we saw a spate of red, white, and blue, mostly in promotional, decorative items," said Jay de Sibour, president of the Color Marketing Group. "In a broader sense, it raised consumer's minds about the need to reconnect, to consider the issues of home, family and religion.

"When the economy is good, people tend to be more daring in terms of color, however, when the economy is tight, people put more value in their purchase," he said. "They tend to be less frivolous and less risk-prone because it may be a long time before they can replace that item."

If the economy improves, Mr. de Sibour predicts the color palette will get cleaner and brighter. "People want to move on and would like to say it's time to reconnect and enjoy life again," he said. "They want to shed the turmoil of their lives and get out of their cocoon."

The latest colors from KitchenAid, which already offers a collection of colorful housewares products, including pink stand mixers (whose sales help benefit the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation) and cobalt blue refrigerators, as well as empire red dishwashers. This year KitchenAid had two new hues: "ice," a very light blue, and a green called wasabi, named after a paste people may eat with sushi.


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