Aussie cookware startup launches in Europe

Digital cookware brand Zega Intelligent Cookware has branched out into Europe with its first retail distribution agreement.

The partnership with one of Italy’s largest homewares retailers, the Kasanova Group, will see Zega’s smart, app-enabled, Australian-designed cookware sold across Kasanova's 350 Italian retail stores as well as through its online and television home shopping channels.

Zega’s co-founder and lead designer, Brendan Dunne, says the deal represents a significant milestone for the company.

“This is an exciting step for Zega as it secures our entry into one of the most important kitchenware markets in the world in partnership with Kasanova Group, one of the most experienced retailers in Italy,” he enthuses.

“Italy is a significant, sophisticated housewares market and a global centre of excellence for cooking and for cookware manufacturing. Prior to starting Zega, we already had a long history of developing and manufacturing products for large Italian housewares brands and so we know the market quite well. Also, our director for EMEA, Daniele Fuligno, is world-renowned in the cookware industry and is based in Italy.”

The Zega app, which currently features 76 recipes, is being translated into Italian. The company is also developing additional recipes and videos with Italian MasterChef contestants to coincide with the Italian launch.

“We introduced the concept of Zega to Maurizio Ghidelli, the CEO of Kasanova, six months ago via our Italian office. We took great care to explain the unique concept of Zega―we generated and shared a large bank of marketing assets as well as sharing our learnings from selling direct to consumers in the US and Australia.

“Kasanova is the market leader in housewares in Italy and they totally understand the concept of Zega and how unique it is. We talked for a while about how a deal should be structured and quickly agreed on a partnership to launch the product in Italy, exclusively with them,” says Dunne.

“The first order with Kasanova has already been placed and we’re working hard to get required stock delivered to Italy by November. The timing is fantastic as it ensures Zega is positioned in store to take advantage of the Italian Christmas retail period.

“We’re excited to be launching in-store retail in such a sophisticated market and no doubt our learnings in Italy can be applied when we launch with distributors in Australia and the US at the end of this year or early next year.”

The global pandemic has brought forward the adoption of important new consumer habits and reinforced Zega’s value proposition, adds Dunne.

“As social distancing forced people into isolation, shutting down bricks and mortar retail, online retail is booming. At the same time, as consumers settle into new routines, home cooking is on the rise. With health and wellness now very much top-of-mind, consumers are paying more attention to eating healthier and seeking out ways to do this at home, simply.”

However, Covid did have an impact on Zega’s go-to-market strategy and related timings, in particular the significant impact on traditional B2B distribution and retail channels including the cancellation of the key trade shows in Europe and US; the closure of almost all retail outlets worldwide resulting in distributors pausing all new product acquisition, and the consequent increased focus on online/ecommerce B2C channel and the need for Zega to redirect its go-to-market focus to a primarily online model.

“Selling directly to our customers has been an important learning experience for us. By experiencing the entire customer journey first hand, we learned what our customers want, what marketing resonates, what price points work, what support customers may require, their direct feedback on recipes or other aspects of the product, allow us to understand what our customers want and how we can better serve them.

“This data and understanding of our customers and how they use the product allows us to provide better intel and support to distributors and retailers as we press on with our international distribution.”

Zega is looking to expand into all key European markets and have had early discussions with potential distributors in UK, France, Germany, Spain, Portugal and Scandinavia.