Even in a recession, everyone has to buy food. Though not usually as high on the list as milk and bread, housewares products nonetheless are becoming a growing presence on grocery lists. Chalk up the trend to the convenience factor and to virtually endless cross merchandising opportunities.
To showcase their housewares departments, seven supermarkets in Northern New Jersey are taking a cue from the department store playbook and featuring a celebrity chef and cooking demonstrations on busy weekend afternoons throughout August and September. The stores include: Supremo Supermarket, Perth Amboy, NJ; Extra Supermarket, Jersey City, NJ; Supremo Supermarket, Elizabeth, NJ; Shop Rite, Passaic, NJ; Pueblo Meat Market, Newark, NJ, Twin City Market, Elizabeth, NJ, Supremo Supermarket, Plainfield, NJ.
“Everyone buys food and the frequency of store visits compared to department store visits creates a substantial opportunity in housewares for the food retailer,” said Manny Guarnaurd, president of IMUSA, the dominant brand of Hispanic housewares. “IMUSA and distributor, Latin American Distributor (LADI) are co-sponsoring the demos with each store to support growth of housewares in the supermarket channel.”
IMUSA, LADI and the supermarkets are inviting customers to meet and greet popular Hispanic Chef Elsie Ramos. Latin celebrity and TV Chef Ramos, author of “Elsie’s Turkey Taco and Arroz Con Pollo: More than 100 Latin-Flavored, Great-Tasting Dishes”, will provide live, special cooking demonstrations complete with simple, easy-to-prepare, Latino oriented meal solutions that offer families a quality meal without breaking the bank.
Chef Ramos is part of IMUSA’s chef program. The Hispanic housewares company has assembled a team of Latin cookbook authors, reality TV stars and other “foodies” to create recipes, cooking ideas, tips, and additional content relevant to Latino cooks, and cooks interested in experiencing the flavors and passions of virtually all Latino cuisines.
“Our chef program is the first of its kind for cooking authentic Latin cuisine with celebrity chefs representing each region/country of origin within the Latin community. Delivering delicious meal solutions is another added value the IMUSA customer enjoys when choosing our cookware and kitchen accessories,” explains Gaunaurd.

When people are shopping in a grocery store, their minds are focused on food and meal preparation. It makes sense that they would be likely to purchase a cooking-related item. In terms of one-stop shopping, housewares sales in grocery stores are basic necessity, convenience and impulse buys.
Grocery consumers are looking for value, says IMUSA’s Gaunaurd. “This item may not be a long-term purchase so price points for this channel are typically lower, and generally run $3 to $20 in the housewares category. These purchases are “need it now,” and may be expected to last four or five months, not two or three years.”
“The grocery channel is also very flexible with its merchandise. They’re used to in-and-out promotions,” Gaunaurd said. While other channels have to stick with modular plans or planagrams, supermarkets can change items day to day, bringing in new items, testing them and then taking them out if they don’t work or expanding them if they do.
An important part of success at supermarkets is standing out. The more you tailor housewares offerings to the specific retailer’s environment and display practices, the easier it is for the consumer to make a decision.
Catering to the specific demographic of the supermarket is also important. IMUSA provides its supermarket partners with programs based on individual communities and regional needs across the country. “There is no one Hispanic trend or plan that works for all. Each culture cooks differently and uses different tools. Even if the ingredients are the same, the subtle differences that separate them are as individual as the communities themselves,” Gaunaurd said.
“With a 45% sales increase over last year, the approach is working well for IMUSA, their distributor and for the retail partners, according to Manny Gaunaurd. “At the end of the day, it’s all about delivering the right products at a competitive price point.”