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BrandSource Touts The Great Outdoors

LAS VEGAS — There’s gold in them thar hills — or at least in those backyards.

That was the message from John White, BrandSource’s executive VP for majaps, at the buying group’s Fall Convention & Expo, held here last month at Caesars Palace.

In a presentation, White said member dealers “need to look at outdoor [products] as an opportunity” as grilling is no longer a seasonal pursuit. Indeed, 62 percent of backyard chefs grill year-round, and an increasing number do so on non-traditional holidays like Thanksgiving.

What’s more, the outdoor grill category has evolved over the past decade from largely low-cost commodity imports to encompass an expanded premium segment, with 20 percent of the 2.8 million units now sold annually retailing for more than $300, he said.

Premium grills are also “very simple to get into” for independent dealers as no one retailer or channel dominates it, and it shares the same characteristics as other large-box items sold by BrandSource members, i.e., it’s an assisted-sale product with a high-income demographic and high-margin accessory attachments.

But unlike accessories for majaps and TVs, grill add-ons like tools, sauces, charcoal, aprons and mitts, which command 60 to 70 points of margin, are usually sold with every purchase and “give the customer a reason to keep coming back,” White said.

Besides grills, other popular outdoor living products include furniture, bar and refrigeration units, and hearth products like fire pits, fireplaces, wood-burning kettles and heaters, many of which are available through BrandSource’s OutdoorSource merchandising program.

Elsewhere, White reminded members that they need to change with the times — and with their consumers and competitors — in terms of brand mix, SKU count, store design and mobile apps.

“If you’re running a traditional appliance store the same way your father ran it you’re probably doing it wrong,” he said. “You can’t name one place you shop today that is the same as it was five or ten years ago. Appliance retailers need to adapt to the way consumers want to shop.”