Ceramic Industry

Outlook Positive For Dinnerware/Collectibles Market

August 6, 2000
The tableware market grew by a 4% margin from 1998 to 1999, according to Home Furnishing News, a weekly newspaper that analyzes products and trends in the home furnishings industry. Total tableware sales, including dinnerware, flatware, glassware and crystal, increased from $4.5 billion in 1998 to $4.7 billion in 1999, with most sales growth channeled through mass merchants who tend to be seeking higher-quality and more fashionable ware.

According to the Society of Glass and Ceramic Decorators' (SGCD) 1999 State of the Decorating Industry survey, most tableware decorators anticipate that this growth will continue, at least in the near term. Ninety-two percent of the 21 survey respondents in this category expected sales increases in 2000, and 7% anticipated a stable market. Sales figures for collectible and giftware decorators also continued their steady improvement in 1999. Forty-seven percent of the 15 respondents reported sales that exceeded or far exceeded expectations, while 40% met budget targets. Only 13% reported sales below budget. Optimism continues in this segment with 87% of respondents forecasting at least modest sales increases in 2000, and only one decorator expecting a sales decline.

Promotional product and souvenir decorators-who encompass the largest segment of SGCD membership-accounted for the largest number of completed surveys (23). Results were more varied than in other decorating segments, with 26% greatly exceeding or exceeding budget, 52% meeting budget, and 22% falling below budget. Most promotional product decorators also continued to be optimistic, with 87% projecting at least a modest sales increase for 2000.

In an interview with Ceramic Industry, Steven Lizak, senior vice president of marketing for Mikasa, said that consumer demands continue to play the biggest role in sales growth. Today's consumers are demanding quality, fashion and value, and are not as concerned about price. Unusual or "add-on" products backed by familiar name brands are likely to garner a lot of attention. For instance, the company introduced a collection of three-dimensional ceramic items to its Garden HarvestR product line-salt and pepper shakers that look like two different pieces of fruit, etc.-and these new items increased sales of the Garden Harvest pattern by 20% this spring for one Mikasa distributor. "This is an established pattern, so to have these new products represent 20% of the pattern is huge," said Lizak.

For Waterford Crystal, the fastest growing products are dated limited editions and molded ornaments. According to Thomas McInerney, senior vice president of marketing for Waterford Crystal, consumers are demanding high quality designs, craftsmanship and fine detail. "Ornaments that reflect sentimental value and 'tug at the heart strings' are in high demand, including ornaments commemorating special occasions (i.e., anniversary, new baby, wedding, etc.) or evoking a time or event from the past, such as their own childhood, their children's lives, or holidays from generations past," McInerney said. Factors most likely to affect the premium collectible ornaments market include higher pricing in Europe; more competitive manufacturing from the Far East; and the challenge to continuously provide new, exciting and even more intricate ornaments to current and potential consumers.

Editor's Note

The above information was obtained from the Society of Glass and Ceramic Decorators and from interviews with marketing executives at Mikasa and Waterford Crystal. For more information about SGCD's State of the Decorating Industry survey, contact the SGCD directly at (202) 728-4132.