Housewares / Small Appliances / Stand Mixer

Part A: Marketplace

Marketplace Overview: The stand mixer was the second best performer in 2016, increasing the overall volume of the small kitchen appliance market by 4%. Convenience is a major motivation for the consumer, making the all-in-one stand mixer the preferred kitchen appliance for a broader segment of home cooks. Several manufacturers have entered the stand mixer market, while others have expanded their existing product lines. Despite the efforts of other vendors, KitchenAid remains the category leader in upscale stand mixers, currently holding 80% of the business in the U.S. The prices in the general market for stand mixers start at approximately $100 and can go up to $450. However, some higher end models can approach $1,000. The largest segment (32.4%) of customers spent over $200 on their stand mixer, and 18.1% spent between $100-$200. Higher-quality mixers, often constructed with stainless steel, such as the KitchenAid and Kenwood models, tend to cost more. The retail dollar sales of stand mixers have steadily increased since 2012. Sales in 2016 reached $379.6 million with 1.9 million units sold compared to 2012, which reached $338.3 million in sales with 1.70 units sold. The versatility of the stand mixer makes it one of the most desired items on the kitchen shelf.

Key Manufacturers: Key manufacturers in the stand mixer market include KitchenAid, Sunbeam, Oster, Hamilton Beach, Bosch, Cuisinart, Kenwood, Sencor, Breville and FoodSaver.

Target Market: The market targets women in their 20s and 30s, specifically apartment dwellers, newly independent individuals, recent college graduates, and the newly engaged or married who are starting their families. The customer is someone who is social media inclined, deal-based, a magazine reader and retail shopper. Their shopping habits are driven by convenience and a selection of quality retailers. The older members of the target marget prefer in-store shopping while the younger subset shop across all retailers. While older generations seek a quick and simple shopping experience, Millennials and iGens are willing to spend time shopping and are interested in visualization tools, expert advice and hands-on opportunities. Their desire is to begin to collect kitchen essentials and master the arts of cooking and baking. According to Mintel reports, Millennials are also more willing to spend on advanced features. Although this has been the target for quite some time, things are changing. The market is focusing more on any person who enjoys cooking and baking, regardless of gender. This may include chefs, cooks, home entertainers, and parents.

Channels of Distribution: The top channel of distribution for stand mixers is discount stores. According to HomeWorld estimates, for the last four years, discount stores have had more than half the retail dollar shares, at 54%, compared to the other channels. From 2013-2015, department stores trailed with 15-16% of market shares followed by specialty stores with 14-15%. However, in 2016 department stores dropped to 14%, while specialty stores succeeded to 17%. Warehouse clubs have consistently owned 4% of market shares in the last four years. According to the latest HomeWorld Forecast Consumer Survey, consumer retail channel preference predicts discount stores will drop to 41.8%, followed by TV/Internet/Catalog to 16.3%, then home specialty stores to 12.7%, and department stores to 10.7%, On the bottom of the chart off-price/closeout stores will drop to 7.4%, warehouse clubs to 7%, home improvement/hardware stores to 3.2%, and gourmet stores to a low 0.9%.

Trends: Minimization, convenience, and health are the growing trends when it comes to small kitchen appliances. A popular movement of downsizing and decluttering is leading consumers to purchase smaller all-in-one appliances. Healthy living remains an important element of American food culture. Greater numbers of Americans are now cooking their own food as opposed to eating out. Manufacturers and designers have responded to this increasing focus on diet and exercise by developing more sophisticated food preparation appliances. Regardless of trends, the stand mixer remains a status symbol. For many it is an aspirational purchase to serve as a showpiece on kitchen countertops. In some families it is even considered an heirloom to pass from generation to generation. Mixers benefit from continued popularity as a housewarming gift and are the number one item on wedding registries.

Part B: Product

Company Overview: KitchenAid, founded in 1919, is an American home appliance brand with a rich history and a reputation for inventing the stand mixer. They were the first to bring restaurant grade mechanical power to the home. KitchenAid marketed the stand mixer as the total food preparation center from the beginning. Currently, the company is owned by the Whirlpool Corporation. KitchenAid started with its iconic stand mixer and from that stemmed an entire kitchen of high-performance appliances. All of their products are created with attention to detail, quality craftsmanship, versatile technology, and timeless design. The brand promotes convenience, value, and longevity. KitchenAid is the only brand to exclusively make products for the kitchen.

Product Description: Built to last 40-50 years, the KitchenAid Artisan Stand Mixer is the top selling stand mixer in the world. The Series 5 Quart Tilt-Head Stand Mixer retails for $429.99 and is available in more than 82 colors. It is one of KitchenAid’s best sellers, voted 4.9 stars and reviewed by 10,716 customers on their website. The model includes a nylon coated flat beater, a nylon coated dough hook, a 6-wire whip and a pouring shield. The bowl can fit 5 quarts but larger or smaller bowls can also be purchased separately. The size of the bowl can yield 9 dozen cookies, 7 pounds of mashed potatoes, and 4.5 loaves of bread. The bowl has a polished stainless steel finish. The included hub cover comes unhinged for optional use. The entire machine weighs 26 lbs. and has a rubber footprint for stability. The depth of the machine is 14.1 inches, the width is 8.7 inches, and the heights is 13.9 inches. The tilt-head design allows clear access to the bowl and locks into place during operations to keep the beater-to-bowl contact close and efficient. The mixer has 325 watts and 10 mixing speed options. The 10-speed feature is powerful enough to stir both wet and dry ingredients including kneading bread dough or whipping cream. Each mixer also comes with a booklet of instructions, suggested recipes, and information on available attachments. There are over 10 optional hub powered attachments, such as food grinders, graters, and juicers. The most popular attachments are the pasta press, citrus press and ice cream maker. The attachments screw into a hub in the front of the mixer. Attachments from earlier models are compatible with the new models and vice versa, making the KitchenAid stand mixers timeless.

Manufacturing Process:

  • Die-Casting: The stand mixer is built in Greenville, Ohio, in the KitchenAid factory which makes about 8,000 mixers a day. The process begins with die-casting zinc to make the body of the mixer, giving it it's legendary heft and durability. The zinc parts are then prepared for painting.
  • Preparation: A machine takes the raw castings and gives it the fine details required to make the parts fit together later on. The castings are then cleaned, buffed, and ground down on an abrasive belt to make them perfectly smooth. After the rough surfaces are polished, all the holes for the nuts and bolts are drilled into the shell of the mixer. The parts are washed to remove any metal shavings. Then they are transported to the paint department where they move through a spray booth to get their coats of many colors.
  • Paint Application: The paint application is a highly charged process. The spray booth applies an electrostatic charge to the powder paint particles which enables the paint to stick to the zinc shell. The electrostatic charge is positive and is attracted to the negatively charged zinc. The parts run on a chain as the booth sprays the very fine powder. Then it is off to the oven, where they are baked causing the powder coating and mixer parts to become one. The freshly painted parts then head to pre-assembly where hardware is added to the base plates and pedestals.
  • Pre-Assembly: The pre-assembly process includes a hands-on craftsman who joins the pieces together. In order to know if the pieces have been assembled correctly, he hits the mixer with a wooden mallet and listens for a specific noise.
  • Speed Governor Assembly: To assemble the speed governor a brass hub spring and washer is arranged in a holding device and press-fitted together. Mechanical arms pinch and bend hard wire to make small hooks on its ends. Then, two weights are attached to the spring assembly using the protruding wires. This keeps the mixer speed constant despite changes in the load.
  • Multi Shaft Assembly: From pre-assembly, the mixers then go to the motor build area to prepare the multi shaft. First, a gear, which drives the attachments, is installed followed by the stator, which creates the electrical fields for the motor. A spinning steel cylinder is lowered to a revolving cutter. Lubricant is applied to the cutter to keep it cool as it carves spirals into the end of the shaft. A dab of oil is applied before the shaft and motor windings are mounted inside the unit. Two multi brushes are slid into the pre-drilled holes. A bearing bracket holds the motor in place while the front of it is lubricated and the electrical control board added. A trim band with the brand name on it is wrapped around the outside for decoration. Then grease is poured into the section of the mixer that will hold the gears and the section is sealed so no grease leaks out. Then the multi shaft is attached to the base. Then the drive pin that will move the whisk and other attachments is inserted into the multi shaft. More grease is applied to this section and the two halves are screwed together. Then the planetary gear, which will rotate the mixer attachments around the bowl, is installed and a pin is hammered in place to attach it. Then a decorative ring is tapped onto the outside. Then screws nuts and springs are attached the complete the control board assembly. The multi-unit is mounted to the base and an identification number is marked onto the bottom.
  • Attachments: To make the whisk, a machine straightens wire between rolls of rotating wheels. Computer programed forming tools make twelve bends to produce the shapes. To assemble the whisk, a technician fits wire arcs into an aluminum hob starting with the largest one and graduating down to the smallest. Underneath, a punch mechanism dimples the hob to fasten each wire. Meanwhile, the dough hooks and beaters are dropped into a vibrating bowl full of metal nuggets. The nuggets polish the attachments and get rid of any sharp edges. Next, a band of aluminium is threaded into a machine which bends it into the contour of the mixer. This piece of trim carries the brand name.
  • Motor Settings: While the gears turn, the speed setting tool is installed to the hob of the mixer. Once all the parts are in the mix and put together, the technician adjusts the speed. Each mixer must be able to make 200 rotations every minute.
  • Testing: Each machine is tested individually. All of the attachments are put on and taken off several times to make sure they fit properly. Each mixer is rigorously tested for wattage and speed.  The machines are brought to the lab and are run for as long as what is equivalent to a minimum of ten years worth of time. The tilt heads have AC motors, which they test by turning them on and using a tachometer. The tachometer wheel tunes the speed controller to it's correct speed so that when the customer turns the machine on 2, 4, 6, 8 it is consistently the same speed from one mixer to the next. If the machine fails that test, it is taken out of the line to be worked on again. The final step is to test the beta. It must be correctly positioned above the bowl and polished. A visual inspection is done to ensure the machine is polished correctly and there are no nicks or scratches. Once it passes inspection, the mixer is ready for packing.

Packaging: The box in which the mixer is packaged is utility based to ensure minimal damage. The boxes are designed to keep the products stationery and secure. The mixer is surrounded by two pieces of fitted styrofoam. The styrofoam contains small compartments in which the attachments are inserted. The plastic bowl cover is wrapped in packaging paper to minimize scratching. The KitchenAid label and a photo of the mixer are required on each packaging box. The boxes have all the information the customer might need regarding the stand mixer including product description and specifications.

Manufacturer Target Market: KitchenAid’s target market are home enthusiasts— those who are passionate about cooking, baking and entertaining. They are professional men and women between the ages of 25 and 40 with disposable income. The Mini Stand Mixer they announced in 2016 is specifically targeted at urban millennials and condo dwellers who might not have the counter space for KitchenAid’s full-sized stand mixer. Those customers live an urban lifestyle and are limited by smaller kitchens. They love to cook and entertain

Manufacturer Channels of Distribution: The KitchenAid stand mixer is sold on the KitchenAid website, Amazon, Target, Kohls, Bed Bath and Beyond, Macy’s, ebay and Williams-Sonoma. They can be found in most kitchen appliance stores. Its primary channels of distribution are discount stores such as Walmart and Target.