Housewares Design Awards

2005 Best in Category: Cooking Electrics

Conair Corp.

Cuisinart 6.5-Qt. Slow Cooker

When Cuisinart moved deeper into countertop cooking, entering several new small appliance categories, it did so by launching the products together in a collection.

Items in the collection— which includes the award-winning slow cooker, as well as indoor griddle/grills, an electric skillet, rice cookers and a fondue set— sport a complementary industrial-style brushed stainless steel finish.

“That look and finish has been one of our most popular outside of white,” said Mary Rodgers, director of marketing communications for Cuisinart and Waring.

The slow cooker “was designed to be part of the overall countertop collection,” she added. “All the items have the same look and feel. They all match in terms of finish, down to the embossed logo.”

A growing chorus of small appliance suppliers has sought to launch “collections” of products in an effort to get retailers to merchandise the items together to stimulate multiple purchases. Bridal is seen as a particularly ripe market for this collection positioning as new brides are more likely than any other demographic to set up an entire home all at once.

The collection approach “is so a consumer who chooses to buy two or three appliances can have them all match,” said Rodgers.

The slow cooker, as well as Cuisinart’s other products, are all designed for consumers who consider themselves home chefs, and who want to have in their homes a kitchen that looks like it belongs in a tony restaurant.

Cuisinart also views its appliances as an affordable way for a consumer to redesign her kitchen. said Rodgers. They can instead by two or three brushed stainless steel small appliances and park them on their countertop.

Cuisinart uses a team of outside industrial designers to help design its products. The company’s fabled first food processor was, in fact, designed by a Pratt Institute graduate.

Cuisinart’s in-house engineers, who work with the designers, “study the marketplace and see what is out there and what we can add or how we can differentiate,” said Rodgers.

Cuisinart’s marketing team also is involved in the design process, working with the engineers and designers.

In addition to how the slow cooker actually looks on the countertop, Cuisinart also used other design elements to differentiate the product from others now on the marketplace. It added a retractable cord, for convenient storage.

Also on the convenience front is a keep-warm feature, designed to cycle on when the cooking process ends, so the food doesn’t turn cold. The inner pot is not only removable, it is decorative enough to be carried to the dinner table and used as a serving bowl.

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