With hardware and home improvement retailers looking for every opportunity to expand product selection and gain market share in their communities, the housewares, home supply and gift departments featured at the International Home + Housewares Show (IHHS) in Chicago provided a great opportunity to see what 2019 offers.
The annual market, which showcases vendors from around the world, highlights kitchen, bath, cleaning, home storage and connected home devices among other products. This year, the event was a hub for celebrity chefs and TV personalities demonstrating new products available to retailers. Taking in the market were buyers from national chains like Bed, Bath & Beyond and Kohl’s, as well as independent retailers in hardware, kitchen supply businesses and gift shops.
Take a look at some of the trends Hardware Retailing spotted at the 2019 show and learn what one independent retailer discovered on her first trip to the event.
A number of vendors displaying products at the IHHS 2019 focused on how familiar housewares products can be expanded upon with new features and technology.
Home brewing has been a department many hardware and home improvement retailers have taken on as a fun assortment that draws customers looking for a project to do at home and a creative outlet. Two vendors were taking different approaches to add to this kind of product and were examples of a variety of vendors at IHHS going deeper into what products can offer for retailers.
Craft a Brew already offers craft brewing starter kits for creating beer, cider and even wine in your own home. At IHHS, the company unveiled a partnership with Humble Bumble Kombucha to create a similar kit to create homemade kombucha. The fermented cold tea beverage is thought to possess health benefits, but more importantly, it shows retailers that vendors are coming up with new ideas each year, even in tried-and-true categories.
This kind of product diversity, and how it can expand a housewares and gift department, is what drew Lucy Hardware general manager Jessica Spaulding to IHHS. She and her housewares manager were first-time attendees at the show. The Intervale, New Hampshire, business is gearing up for a remodeling of its gifts and housewares department this summer, and Spaulding felt making a visit to the housewares show would help make the department a destination for shoppers.
“We really wanted to see what is available in the housewares category that you might not see at other shows,” Spaulding says. “We’ve already been overwhelmed with the selections at this show, and it feels good that we’re making our own decisions about what brands we want to look into. We want to broaden our horizons, and we’ve already made a couple choices that will help us do that.”
For a variety of modern kitchen appliances, 2019 is the year when name recognition will matter less than product features, price point and merchandising tactics. On display at the housewares show were many options for new kitchen appliances, including electric pressure cookers, air fryers, modern takes on multicookers and even water baths used for slow cooking food under controlled temperatures.
With this variety, retailers now have more choices than ever when selecting products to expand their housewares and kitchen inventory. Brand recognition might still have some power, but each manufacturer is looking to set themselves apart by the quality of their products, adding features or including kits and accessories into packages at desirable price points.
Dimitri Kermani, an exhibitor showing off a variety of cooking products from Yedi Housewares, is seeing the diversification of high-tech appliances as a way for brands to try their own approaches and see what customers are drawn to. For Yedi Housewares, this includes making a large number of accessories accessible in basic packages with pressure cookers and air fryers.
These accessories can include stands for steaming large batches of eggs, extra lids to transform a pressure cooker into a slow cooker and multilevel stands for air fryers that prevent the need for additional purchases on top of the appliance.
“We see these products being advertised for their multiple uses, but often you need extra equipment to make the most of them. Our approach is to make all of those added ‘bonuses’ available from the start, and we think consumers will be excited about that,” Kermani says.
For a look at how some of these modern kitchen appliances can be used, check out Hardware Retailing’s Chad Husted demonstrating a few techniques.