Crock-Pot is getting in on the Instant Pot craze.
Lauded for its ease and speed, the countertop pressure cooker Instant Pot gained a loyal following on social media. Now, Newell Brands' Crock-Pot is entering the multi-cooker space with the debut of Crock-Pot Express Crock Multi-Cooker.
"Instant Pot is the category leader in the emerging category, but there's still an opportunity for a brand that has the trust and heritage that Crock-Pot has in consumers' homes," said David Worthington, Crock-Pot's director of brand development.
Multi-cookers combine functions like sauteing, steaming, rice making, slow cooking and more. Unlike traditional slow cookers, they rely on pressure cooking to perform the various tasks. How it works isn't typically what attracts people, it's how fast it works.
Multiple pressure cookers are already on the market, but Instant Pot has somewhat of a cult following. A simple Facebook search reveals countless Facebook groups with recipes catered to nearly every cuisine or diet and people professing their love for the pressure cooker.
Shelley Moser, a mom of three girls in North Carolina, calls Instant Pot "magic pot" because it has made cooking so convenient. She's heard people say it takes the same as cooking on the stovetop or oven, but she says the difference is that you can simply press a button, leave and come back in about 30 minutes to a prepared meal.
"I'm hooked. It's like a whole other world opens up," said Moser, who bought her first Instant Pot last year as part of Amazon's Prime Day.
Instant Pot is not worried about new competition entering the marketplace, it's delighted, said Chris Stevens, vice president of sales.
There's plenty of room for everyone, said NPD analyst Joe Derochowski. The multi-cooker category grew 56 percent in the last year and 85 percent the year before, according to NPD. Over the last three years, about 5 million units have been sold.
"The products really capture consumers' consciousness, and we're still in the early process," Derochowski said.
Consumer trends and demographics are fertile for multi-cooker growth, he said. Millennials are starting families. People are eating in and entertaining at home more. That opens the possibility for people to buy more than one multi-cooker so they can cook a few dishes at once.
Moser, the Instant Pot fanatic, uses two Instant Pot to make one of her favorite recipes, beef and broccoli. She said she could cook the rice, beef and broccoli in one pot, but she prefers to keep them separate.
Crock-Pot and Instant Pot both recognize the opportunity. They recognize consumers' desire to quickly cook has always been there, but the food they're looking for will continue to evolve. That will give them an opportunity to continue innovating.
Online communities have already sprouted up for Instant Pot users to share recipes. A quick Facebook search reveals countless Facebook groups with recipes catered to nearly every cuisine or diet and people professing their love for the pressure cooker.
Crock-Pot will launch an ad campaign next month to promote the multi-cooker ahead of the holidays. The push will include the brand's first major television campaign in five years. It's purposely planned to encourage people to buy the appliance as a gift.
"It's a growing market and a lot of consumers are learning about it for the first time and they buy it for someone else and then buy it for themselves," Worthington said.
Only 5 percent of households own multi-cookers, according to NPD. In comparison, large slow cookers are in 50 percent of households and medium ones are in 33 percent of households.
That number will likely increase over the holidays, and there's plenty of room to grow.