There are about 2,200 exhibitors at the International Home + Housewares Show, which runs through Tuesday, March 21 in Chicago—and attending retailers are “looking for that next thing that’s going to drive their business.”
That’s according to Perry Reynolds, consultant and trade development for the International Housewares Association (IHA), who spoke with The Shelby Report’s Geoff Welch on the expo floor over the weekend.
Reynolds noted that housewares, in some form, are available in nearly every store consumers visit. Even cosmetics stores, he pointed out, have hair dryers.
“We really service a number of channels,” he said.
Supermarkets, of course, are no exception. And grocers can use housewares to set themselves apart, according to Reynolds.
“The opportunity is finding well designed (and applicable) products, and even supermarkets can do a great job of selling those kinds of products. In fact, it will help them differentiate themselves.
“The next wave, and it’ll be interesting to see how supermarkets might adapt to this, is the smart home product. I see it in a lot of different outlets, even those you wouldn’t traditionally see it in. …(While) not immediately, it might be a future item for supermarkets as well.”
These smart home products include everything from kitchen appliances and cleaning tools to lighting and heating/cooling devices.
What’s changing the housewares landscape now, however, is the growth of prepared foods and foodservice at retail, as well as consumers looking for convenient options—like meal delivery kits.
“That, for us, leads to more meals prepared (and/or eaten) at home,” Reynolds said, “which tells us that (consumers are) going to need more cookware, serving tools, tableware. We’re happy to have that happen, but I know it can be challenge for traditional supermarkets.”
It’s an area where grocery can get creative, though—via entertainment, etc.
“I remember going in a Wegmans years ago and the cooking demos were endless. You’d walk down the perimeter aisle and there was a cooking demo every 15 feet. Those are the kinds of things that are going to make the customer stick to the store (vs. online). Department stores are putting in restaurants. I have a friend who has a gift store in Detroit who’s putting in a restaurant. What do you do to engage and retain that customer?”
While foodservice at retail is becoming a critical component for supermarkets, Reynolds sees the “bar section” as the next hot trend. Some stores, in fact, have been doing it for a while.
Reynolds recalls shopping at a Giant Eagle that served wine by the glass several years ago.
“Then, when you have a double dose of wine, you might want to buy more stuff,” he said, laughing.
The Housewares Show is where grocers can get these ideas and more.
“It’s a great place to come and find new products, to find the latest trend, the latest color, the latest everything,” Reynolds said. “And there are a number of supermarkets, in fact many supermarkets, here doing that.”
In addition, retailers can use the group’s Housewares Connect 365 online tool to connect with 1,500 suppliers that are IHA members. Retailers also can see videos and photos of product and catalogues. IHA also has a consumer-facing website.
“I think those opportunities need to be there because they help fund all kinds of other initiatives, and the customer wants to buy that product when they’re there,” Reynolds said. “I believe that supermarkets have really gotten it and are starting to get it even better—and this is such a great opportunity for them, both to satisfy their customers and expand their merchandise.”