Housewares Show Wrapup: Lots of Moves on the Brand Licensing Front

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The International Home + Housewares Show closes its four-day run today in Chicago. Here’s a wrapup of some of the notable trends and licensing moves we saw:

There was a lot of action in drinkware licensing. Thermos is continuing to expand its licensing business, having added travel mugs, water bottles and food storage products featuring Patina Vie designs. It also is adding to its line of Under Armour products (water bottles and travel mugs) with plans for 20- and 50-quart coolers in August at $199 and $299.

Meanwhile, Zak Designs has landed water bottle and melamine dinnerware licensing agreements with Microsoft and MGA Entertainment, for Minecraft and L.O.L. Surprise, respectively. Zak also has separate agreements for emoji-licensed drinkware, continuing to sell products in the U.S. with EmojiNation designs, while but recently signing a deal for Europe with Emoji Co. figures.

Tervis showed non-licensed plastic pint beer glasses, with plans for licensed college and NFL versions by August, says a company spokesman. The glasses represent a departure for Tervis, which largely focuses on entertainment and sports-licensed water bottles and travel mugs.

“We are all just trying to find a niche in a market where there is overabundance of product and one of the ways to do that is with licensing,” says Thermos’ Jessica Jabcon, whose company co-brands its product with licensors.

Weight Watchers: Healthy Kitchen

Weight Watchers: Healthy Kitchen

Healthy living-themed products are continued to capture consumer and retail attention. Gibson Overseas unveiled Weight Watchers (WW) kitchenware products, many designed for food portion control that is at the heart of the weight-loss program, i.e. a WW branded three-compartment lunch container. “It is less of an emphasis on diet and deprivation and more about healthy eating,” says Gibson’s Jodi Fleischman. Many of the products carry measure marks to help with portion control.

In addition to selling the WW products to retailers, Gibson also will market them to WW meeting groups.

Meanwhile, Taylor Made Products is expanding its Curious Chef children’s products from the kitchen into the garden and is considering outbound licensing, says a company spokeswoman. It’s launching a 30-piece Curious Chef gardening set aimed at 3-10-year-old children along with accessories such as aprons. “The gardening products made sense because it is all about this healthy, farm-to-table trend,” says the spokeswoman.

Taylor Made also is seeking direct deals with retailers to have Curious Chef act as a private label, which has been a staple of its bakeware line targeting children for nine years, says a company spokesman.

Licensed kitchen gadget lines connected to some time-honored kitchen electric brands are getting a makeover to match the look of their parent brands. Lifetime Brands revamped its Kitchen Aid lines for the first time since 2004 in the case of standard kitchen gadgets (whisks, ladles, spatualas) and since 2009 for gourmet versions as licensor Whirlpool seeks a common color scheme and design among kitchen electrics and gadgets, says Lifetime’s Brian Lizak.

“They are changing their electrics and using new materials and finishes, so we wanted to be in line with them” rather having one design for electrics and another for gadgets, says Lizak. “We wanted to make sure we were giving that common look across all categories.” Each line has 40-65 SKUs designed to be displayed in stores in four-foot sections, says Lizak.

Meanwhile, Robinson Home Products revamped its Sunbeam gadget line with new color schemes and packaging as it seeks to attract younger consumers to the brand, says a Robinson spokeswoman.

Coca Cola

Coca-Cola Giftware

Mark Feldstein and Associates will release a clock that plays the iconic “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing” song from the 1971 commercial under a licensing agreement with Coke. The song was part of the “Buy the World a Coke” advertising campaign that debuted in October 1969. In addition to the clock, Feldstein is readying Coke plush pillows – an emoji and coke bottle top – that will be sold through Coke’s four U.S. stores late this year. The products mark a return to plush for Coke, which had previously worked with Dundee Toys for the Coke bear. The line is a change for Feldstein, which largely focuses on giftware.

Meanwhile, Feldstein signed its first license with Disney for the dual-licensed clock that combines the work of artist Thomas Kinkade with Disney characters. The first of clocks features Kinkade’s vintage Christmas rendering and Mickey and Minnie Mouse in a product that will start sales in late August marking the 90th anniversary of the characters. While the clock requires royalty payments to Kinkade and Disney, the combined rate of under 15% is about half what it would have been if the deals were separate, says Feldstein’s Mark Feldstein.

Clipper Corp. is shifting focus to the licensed Chopped and Viking brands as its agreement with Meredith Corp. for Allrecipes kitchen gadgets expires, says Clipper’s Erik Reid. was among the first digital brands to enter the kitchenware category when Clipper launched products in 2016. With Chopped having been renewed for 10 seasons on Food Network, “we decided to focus on expanding that line” in launching a broader assortment of products in December to include cutting boards, tongs, scissors, 12-inch frying pans and through regional chains such as Steinmart, says Reid. Meanwhile, Clipper is considering added serveware to the Viking line that already contains cookware and cutlery, says Hagedorn.

Barbecue-related products were plentiful at the show. SCS Direct is shifting its focus in barbecue products to social media, having struck an agreement with YouTube/Facebook stars BBQ Pit Boys for products starting with grilling accessories (smoker bags and planks) in August and moving into other items in 2019, says SCS Direct’s Tony Pignatiello. BBQ Pit Boys have 988,000 YouTube subscribers, 1.5 million followers on Facebook and have developed more than 650 recipes. “They are very strong online and we have our strength in stores and bringing the two together is really the key because no one has really done that yet with any level of success,” says Pignatiello.



There will be some overlap between BBQ Pit Boys and SCS’s premium Camerons grilling tools, but the lines will target different consumers, say Pignatiello. “With Camerons it is all about grilling enthusiasts that are purists, but with BBQ Pit Boys you have everyday people that want to throw something in a grinder and then on to the grill.”

Meanwhile, Smartworks Consumer Products is expanding its line of Corona grilling utensils (spatulas, forks) to include accessories such as gloves, meat claws and pumice stone-based grill brushes, while Blue Rhino is adding the Armor All brand to grill covers and brushes.

There were several notable developments in cleaning and disposal products. Volume Brands International is moving its licensed Glad brand into kitchen gadgets (spatulas, slotted spoons), melamine plates, travel mugs and other items. “We felt we had permission from the consumer to extend it” from trash bags and kitchen wraps to “kitchen-related items,” says Volume’s Warren Chen. At the same time, Volume is bringing Clorox into laundry baskets with a “Sort ‘n Fold” model that sorts and organizes laundry using connectible dividers. It also is now using its Pin-Sol license for mops and brooms.

WM Cleaning Spray

U.S. The WM Odor Disposer

Emson also has licensed the Clorox brand for cleaning tools starting with the Scrubtastic cleaning brush. Meanwhile, SciCorp, having established the Waste Management label in Canada with plant-based sprays designed to eliminate garbage and composting odors, is bringing the products into the U.S. The WM Odor Disposer 22-ounce spray and one gallon commercial grade concentrate launched last month at 1,540 Kroger stores, says SciCorp’s Justin Maat. Kroger is carrying both the spray and a one gallon commercial grade concentrate.

In kitchen electrics, Legacy Companies will introduce products under a Jelly Belly license that it inherited in buying West Bend Electric last year. The line includes electric ice shavers that are paired with nine syrups (grape, watermelon, cotton candy and others) along with molds for making ice pops, snow cone cups, straws and decorating kits and a cotton candy machine. “It sold well for them so we decided to keep the product line going,” says Legacy’s Wendy Bradley.

Meanwhile, Conair’s Cuisinart expects to ship new co-branded small kitchen electric products with an undisclosed partner by year-end, representing a return to licensing, says Cuisinart’s Mary Rogers. Cuisinart licensed out its brand several years ago across kitchen gadgets, cutlery (Lifetime Brands) and tabletop (Syratech), but has returned product development to internal staff. “We just felt it was better if we did the development in-house because we have more control, and some of our partners also were designing product for our major competitors” which posed additional risk, says Rogers. “We will consider licensing out the brand on a case-by-case basis going forward.”

Italian appliance supplier SMEG has launched sales of its Dolce & Gabbana licensed toasters, juicers and kettles, each priced at $600, through 25 Neiman Marcus and 25 William-Sonoma stores. The appliances, based on a 2015 Dolce & Gabbana design, were first tested a year ago before rolling out more broadly this year.

SMEG introduced a refrigerator featuring the design of the front end of Italian classic Fiat 500 sports car in Italy in 2013 and brought it to the U.S. last year. The refrigerator, priced at $10,000, has sold four of the 15 pieces available in the U.S. on a special order basis through SMEG and Neiman Marcus, says a company spokesman.

The Westinghouse brand is moving into massage chairs. Licensee EBI Inc. is converting its iComfort brand models, largely sold in Canada, to the Westinghouse label with the first of the newly designed chairs expected to launch at a warehouse club in Canada in August, says EBI’s Grant Penney. EBI, whose agreement with Westinghouse started Jan. 1, also is rebranding its Energy Plus outdoor heating systems and sauna as Westinghouse, says Penney.


Blue Rhino, Wendy Senior, Sales Dir., 516-962-2397,

Clipper Corp., Craig Hagedorn, Senior Dir. Consumer Products Group, 310-347-3067,

Cuisinart/Conair, Mary Rogers, Marketing Dir., 203-975-4609,

Gibson Overseas, Jodi Fleischman, Marketing Dir., 323-832-8900 x1125,

Legacy Companies, Meagan Bradley, VP Marketing, 954-202-7419,

Lifetime Brands, Brian Lizak, Product Mgr., 516-683-6000,

Mark Feldstein and Associates, Mark Feldstein, Pres., 800-755-6504,

SCS Direct, Tony Pignatiello, Pres. Camerons, 719-390-0505,

SciCorp, Jason Maat, VP Retail Sales, 905-829-1749,

Smartworks Consumer Products, VJ Lund, VP, 732-764-9990,

SMEG, Christian Boscherini, Marketing Dir., 212-265-5378

Taylor Made Products, Corrie Mosley, Mgr., 262-560-2200,

Tervis, Maureen Mason, VP Licensing, 941-441-4635,

Thermos, Jessica Jabcon, VP Product Development, 847-593-5388,

Zak Designs, Reggie Thomas, VP Licensing, 509-244-0555,

Volume Brands International, Warren Chen, Marketing Dir., 310-850-3351,