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LisBiz Strategies: Men are taking over the kitchen

March 28/April 4, 2016; Volume 30, Number 20

By Lisbeth Calandrino

For all of the retailers who sell kitchens: Take heed.

Screen Shot 2016-04-01 at 9.59.50 AMOver the past five years, I’ve noticed there’s a new man on the horizon. I never pay much attention to men in the kitchen because my dad was a superb chef and even had his own restaurant. Today, men are invading the kitchen. The last man who spent considerable time in my kitchen came equipped with his own pots and pans as well as special knives. We’re not talking about using the barbecue; we’re talking about real cooking from scratch. He also complained that my kitchen just wasn’t designed for real cooking; I believe he’s right, but it does look good.

“Kitchens are more tailored, more masculine, more streamlined,” noted New York designer Young Huh, “and that reflects the male drive and participation in kitchen design.” A new survey of industry professionals conducted by the National Kitchen & Bath Association named clean-lined styling as the top trend of 2016. The trends don’t show things like fancy door pulls, crown moldings or ornate hardware.

It appears that men are more in touch with getting things done in the kitchen rather than the nostalgic “pretty” look that us women supposedly like. From what I’m reading, men tend to go for more bold looks like darker cabinets and ebonized wood (my personal favorite). Everything is more masculine, dramatic and interesting.

Another emerging trend is bringing the sports car into the kitchen. The Porsche Design Studio has teamed up with kitchen manufacturer Poggenpohl to design a modular kitchen with the same black lacquer and stainless steel frames from Porsche’s car designs. A second sink is a must for men, with a spray attachment that would make any firehouse feel proud.

Men also want high-powered stoves, sizeable entertainment systems in their kitchen schemes and high-tech equipment for their iPads so they can find recipes online. So much for granny’s cookbooks.

This sounds like an opportunity. Maybe it’s not a trend right now and just simmering in your neighborhood, but why not jump on it? If you’re selling high-end flooring—especially that elegant LVT—it sounds like you’ve got a new customer.

If you’re selling kitchen cabinets and appliances, maybe it’s time to put in that ‘guy’ display. Show it with coordinating high-end floors that would attract the masculine customer.

Why not host a special all-male guys’ night out? We’ve been doing the girls’ night out for 15 years; this twist will get you a whole new crowd. You could also host singles cooking night. It sounds like fun and would make for a good meet-up event on your Facebook page. If it’s not packed the first time you hold it, it will be the second time.

I know many of you are reading this with a jaundiced eye and thinking, “This doesn’t happen in my town.” The point is, you’ve got a new emerging customer and in two years it may be hot everywhere.

I read an article on change that said if we really paid attention we would notice that we get about two years warning on what will happen in our lives. Unfortunately, less than 10% of the population pays attention to any of the signs. Don’t let this be you.

What have you got to lose? It gives you something new to talk about and post on your social media sites, which is where your customers are spending their time.