IHA learns from Steven L. Katz, MAN THE KITCHEN, CEO and founder, about his presentation at the 2017 International Home + Housewares Show. Steve looks at what happens in the kitchen through a lens that blends anthropology and psychology to capture and understand the unique traits observable among male home cooks.
Steve’s presentation kicks off the four days of programs at the Innovation Theater which will feature 21 educational sessions covering topics ranging from new product design to the smart home.
Steve Katz created MAN THE KITCHEN from his unique background in food writing and research, consulting, and cultural anthropology. Services have grown into strategic merchandising and sales consulting in cookware, hardware, and groceries; the creation of MTK CORE KITCHEN in-store and online merchandising, a forthcoming cookbook and other food and business writing.
Steve, give us some background on MAN THE KITCHEN.
Readers of my food writing for newspapers and magazines alerted me that men were doing more cooking at home and their behaviors in the kitchen were much different than those of women cooks. I began to dig into more than a decade of research in government studies and market-based analysis. What began as a one-page chart entitled The Cooking Guide to Men©–describing the subconscious punch list that male cooks of all ages and background demonstrate when they are cooking, baking or grilling—became the key to understanding their behavior when they are grocery shopping or buying cookware and equipment.
Men are territorial when they cook, bake, or grill and they need their own retail territory related to food, cooking and cookware too. Traditional household cookware merchandising and sales are focused on equipping a kitchen, but when it comes to men, you are equipping the male cook himself. Not only do men merely cook, they Man the Kitchen!!
What is the most exciting or rewarding part of your work? What fuels your inspiration?
Heads nodding. Encountering more and more women and men who like to talk about how the gender shifts at work and at home are coming to life in the cooking and grocery buying for their home. Listening and watching as people discover functional and creative ways to do more cooking and eat better at home. Seeing the multi-generational and multicultural meaning and significance of food and cooking come to life across all ages of people from many backgrounds in the U.S. and globally.
Can you name a pivotal event or project that impacted your career or company?
Growing up in my family-owned Chicago-based meat packing company that was a premier purveyor to the finest restaurants and hotels. I learned from my father that your real job — no matter what business you are in is to actively ensure your customer’s success. MAN THE KITCHEN constantly emphasizes the need for understanding, communicating, merchandising selling, and delivery to be guided by the male home cook’s focus on being successful in what he is cooking.
In the past few years, what has changed most in your business? How has your company met these challenges in the way you do your work?
MAN THE KITCHEN is a relatively new company and is positioned alongside the most important changes occurring in society—the parallel shifts in more women working full time and spending less of their free time on cooking, and more males of all ages doing more cooking, baking and grilling at home. We have to consider Gen-Xers and Millennials raised on food television and a food-obsessed internet, with recipes and videos a click away, and everyone else looking for greater variety, in-depth research and the answer to their favorite question –“What should I cook tonight?”
The marketplace in retail cookware, related food and cooking arenas, retail store design and functionality, publishing and television must understand that the stereotyping of women restricts their growth, education and lives. And stereotyping men as gorillas at the grill instead of celebrity chefs in their own homes misses out on one of most significant changes in society – and the marketplace.
Why did you choose to speak at the International Home + Housewares Show?
The International Home + Housewares Show is the leading international trade show and gathers manufacturers, retailers, and people who market, sell, and think about food and cooking at homes in America and around the globe. The Innovation Theater is a welcoming forum for thought leadership. Because of the Show’s high quality and experience of its attendees, exhibitors and others the chance to speak at the Show is as much a learning and engagement experience as it is a speaking opportunity.
Tell us what you will be speaking about and how and this topic is important for Show audiences.
I will outline how retailers—whether online or bricks and mortar – are anchored and over-invested in the distant past. The same research that shows that males spend more of their free time cooking while women spend less of their time cooking also shows that males are now 40-50% of the grocery store customer base – yet the cookware industry and retail sector that exists to equip the home cooks lacks the understanding or strategy to capitalize on this permanent shift in society. I will offer specific merchandising and sales strategies and programs to capitalize on the male customer – the largest untapped demographic in the multimillion dollar consumer cookware, as well as food and cooking marketplace.
Man The Kitchen: The Recipe for Strategic Merchandising
March 18, Saturday, 11:30 am -12:30 pm
Innovation Theater, Lakeside Center, Room E350
What are you looking forward to most from speaking at the Innovation Theater?
The opportunity to engage in discussion and thinking out loud with others who are directly experienced in and working in the manufacturing, merchandising, and selling of cookware to home cooks – and listening to others who can speak from experience and their own market research.
What do you see as consumers’ biggest concerns regarding housewares products?
The lack of a connection between food and cooking, and the sale of cooking tools and equipment to food. Stores remain replete with shiny collections and endless shelves and wall displays of indistinguishable cookware and tools of questionable function, value and use. Consumers may feel taken advantage of because of their desire to emulate chefs when they see inferior quality merchandise that is labeled and promoted by celebrity chefs.
What are some of today’s trends or issues that new product development professionals and/or retailers face in the housewares market?
The investment in new product development is not nearly as important as the need to understand social and marketplace shifts so that companies can create successful merchandising strategies for longstanding and existing products that enable the success of all home cooks.
Thank you, Steve, for explaining the background and basics of what happens when men step into the kitchen. Your program will be a thought-provoking start of our four-day series. Your intriguing insights will undoubtedly attract industry professionals who want to pull back the curtain on the impact of gender shifts in culture and cooking.
To learn more about MAN THE KITCHEN, contact:
Innovation propels the housewares industry. Learn from experts about how to invigorate your new products and services by enhancing your innovation efforts. Critical issues such as global design trends, licensing, the emerging Smart Home category, branding, the needs of distinct consumer age and gender groups, the future of food and parenting – all impact the home goods market. Be sure to attend the free executive-level educational sessions at the Innovation Theater. These programs will give you a fresh perspective as you walk the Show and will inspire, inform and improve your business.
The four days of the 2017 International Home + Housewares Show will be packed with events and education. To help you plan your valuable time at the Show, we introduce you to the speakers and the 21 exciting presentations that will take place in the Innovation Theater in the Lakeside Center. Gain cutting-edge insights that you can apply to your work. All programs are audio-recorded and will be available at www.housewares.org after the Show.