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Good Health, Home Organization Key Trends at International Home + Housewares Show

With the rebound of the economy, American consumers are looking to improve their lives and homes with a focus on healthy eating, home organization and home remodeling.

These trends were front and center at the 2014 International Home and Housewares Show, held March 15-18 at McCormick Place in Chicago. The more than 2,100 exhibitors included those from the home products, home organization and housewares categories as well as personal care, home decor and design.

The show played host to many celebrities, including chefs Wolfgang Puck and Guy Fieri and interior designer Vern Yip, who entertained and educated the more than 60,000 attendees. Educational seminars included color and design trends by Leatrice Eiseman of the Pantone Color Institute; the top trends for 2014 by Tom Mirabile, senior vice president of Global Trend and Design for Lifetime Brands; and rethinking the shopper’s path to purchase by Michelle Schumaker of Google.

“We attend the show every year and love it,” says Jan Nissen, a housewares buyer for Lenoch & Cilek Hardware in Iowa City, Iowa.

Eating Healthy

Americans are choosing healthier foods—including fruits, vegetables and organic foods from local sources—a trend that’s being supported in the home and housewares industry by food storage, food preparation and canning products.

“Consumers’ focus on healthier eating has been fairly pervasive for several years and will continue,” says A.J. Riedel, senior partner of Riedel Marketing Group, a Phoenix, Ariz.-based market research company that specializes exclusively in the housewares industry.

With the increase in purchases at farmers’ markets and fruit/vegetable stands, consumers now are spending more time on food preparation. The show included traditional preparation tools such as pots, pans, utensil and electrics as well as a wide variety of food storage solutions to preserve fresh food longer.

“People are looking for ways to prepare and store fresh food themselves,” says Katherine Hubanks, national sales manager of housewares for Weston Products LLC, which markets both commercial and residential food grinders, canning equipment, vacuum sealers and storage products. “Our products help them do that, and we are seeing a demand from both commercial and residential customers.”

Healthy Environment

Aside from putting healthy foods in their bodies, American consumers are putting an emphasis on using healthy products that will come in contact with their bodies. Natural cleaners are a prime example of this trend, as more and more consumers are choosing cleaning agents that are made with baking soda or vinegar as opposed to chemicals.

From washing machine, kitchen tap and shower head filters that capture dirt, dust and chemicals in a home’s water supply to antibacterial food prep and storage solutions, healthy living trends were prevalent throughout the show.

Clutter-Free

Another strong trend at the show was home organization. With the busy lives Americans lead, feeling a sense of organization when at home keeps life simpler. And this trend is growing, as, according to Riedel, 44 percent of those surveyed feel more organized than they did a year or two ago and 39 percent have purchased more home organization or storage products than they did last year.

The company Lapine Inc. has reported on “hip organization,” the trendy way consumers are keeping their lives organized. IHS was packed with colorful and whimsical storage and and organization products that transformed traditional organizers like bulletin boards or key racks into stylish objects with a unique flair.

Remodeling Resurgence

The slowly turning tide of the economy is making Americans revisit the remodeling plans they shelved for the past few years.

Home remodeling is good news for the housewares industry, since it often leads to purchases of housewares-related products, such as home decor, new small electrics and textiles.

A primary theme among exhibitors at IHS was that housewares can be and are part of a home decor. Color, which has been a common denominator in housewares in recent years, was as strong as ever, with products from cleaning accessories like brooms to cooking utensils such as spatulas to small electrics such as slow cookers, juicers and microwaves available in a rainbow of colors. Such products used to be hidden in the cabinet or drawer, but now are artistic statements that make a room, proving that the functional also can be beautiful—and fun.

Tabletop and kitchen accessories such as trays, linens, and serving pieces, were equally strong, many including bright patterns and nature-inspired designs.

About Liz Lichtenberger

Liz is the special projects editor for Hardware Retailing magazine. She reports on news and trends, visits retailers, and attends industry events. She graduated from Xavier University, where she earned a degree in English and Spanish and was a member of the swim team. Liz is a Louisville, Kentucky, native who lives in Indianapolis with her husband and two children. She enjoys swimming, reading, doing home improvement projects around her house and cheering on her two favorite basketball teams, the Kentucky Wildcats and the Xavier Musketeers.

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