KitchenAid's stand mixer sales began to surge as early as 1993, when cooking and lifestyle TV programs and magazines became popular, and baby boomers began collecting upscale kitchen equipment as status symbols.
"The idea of high-end kitchen stuff was suddenly cool, and even the people who don't have time to cook want to have the best kitchen equipment as a status symbol," says Ken Kaminski, senior VP of KitchenAid Portable Appliances, a division of Whirlpool Corp.
KitchenAid increased its marketing and publicity efforts, including making its mixer widely available for use on TV cooking programs.
Its breakthrough move was cooking up an array of bold new designer colors for its stand mixers to suit upscale consumers' designer kitchens. Today, KitchenAid's stand mixers, No. 1 in the mixer category despite selling for up to $500 each, are available in 12 different colors.
KitchenAid created custom colors for Williams-Sonoma and Dayton Hudson Corp.; it is in talks with other retailers to create custom models and colors. This year KitchenAid will introduce five "retro color" models featuring a pastel color stripe reminscent of '50s-era appliances.
From a modest print ad budget of $500,000 in 1995, the company expects to spend more than $10 million on advertising and marketing this year via N.W. Ayer & Partners, New York. Ads touting KitchenAid's full line appear regularly in national magazines, and its products appear frequently on cable TV's fast-growing Food Network.
Packaging also has been redesigned.
"Our research shows people hardly ever have time to eat together, but they say they want to spend quality time with their equipment," Mr. Kaminski says.