Weber’s New Gas Grills Due at Hardware Show

Weber comes to this year’s Hardware Show armed with a new gas grill series, called Spirit, designed as a lower-priced alternative to its highly successful Genesis line. In addition to being lower-priced, the new series is smaller than Genesis-series grills, and offers a step-down opportunity for consumers and retailers.

Mike Kempster, vice president of marketing and sales for Weber, said the Spirit models should help Weber continue the strong sales growth the company enjoyed last year. He said sales in the Genesis series were "nearly 40 percent over last year.” The Spirit comes in two sizes: the 500, with a suggested retail price of $369; and the slightly larger 700, carrying a suggested retail price of $399. Both come in several colors and either natural gas or LP. They will be shipping to stores in November or December.

Meanwhile, the Palatine, Ill.-based company said it has expanded its consumer advertising budget this year, andis running television spots in addition to print ads. We’ve increased our advertising budget by at least 50 percent. We found a method of reaching the public [television advertising] that works. We’d been using strictly magazine ads for the past few years, but we returned to TV last year to make more people aware that we make gas grills. I’m not saying that’s directly responsible for our growth, but it works.

Weber’s growth–domestic sales are up nearly 19 percent over last year–was helped by television support, and by a consumer trend toward higher-quality and higher-priced grills. Our lowest-priced charcoal grills are about even with last year, but the new Performer series has been a tremendous success. So much so, in fact, that we sold every one we make. One of the major expansions for next year will be greater factory capacity to make enough grills.

The Performer, introduced last year, is a step up from traditional kettle grills. Set in movable cart and complete with Weber’s standard features (porcelain-on-steel surface, Tuck-Away Lid Holder, the grill retails for about $230, fairly high for an ever-expanding charcoal grill category. Our kettle grills begin at higher price points [than most other grills]. We really don’t make any moves to differentiate from our competitors. We won’t make a product that’s painted instead of porcelain-enameled or one that’s difficult to assemble.

Kempster added the moves Weber is making in its charcoal line are designed to give the consumer and retailer greater ease in selecting from different price points. We’re adding new features to our One-Touch and Master-Touch charcoal grills, to give the consumer and retailer greater difference between good, better and best. For retailers, it’s important so they can select the products that suit their clientele better