IHA Weighs In On Housewares Trends Ahead Of Annual Gathering

International Housewares Association logo

Every March, the housewares industry meets in Chicago for the annual International Home + Housewares Show. Before this year’s event, we asked the show’s sponsor, the International Housewares Association (IHA), a few questions.

How do you see the kitchenware/housewares industry faring at this time? 

We appear to be experiencing a golden age for the home and kitchen. The industry as a whole seems poised for continued growth. The industry is finally starting to feel the impact of the Millennial generation as marriage, household formation and housewares purchasing seems to be under way. Baby Boomers continue to spend and entertain.

In the kitchen, consumers have never been more aware of the importance of healthy eating. A generation of television celebrity chefs have taught us how to prepare healthy fare, create ethnic and regional delights, fashion tasty meals on the quick, and entertain with flair. 

Across the spectrum of home products, the impact of design and the emergence of new materials have created many new options for decorating, organizing, cleaning and supplying the home.

What are some of the product trends you see?

The housewares industry continues to generate innovative and design-driven new products, many of which can benefit the supermarket industry. Inspired by social media and peer-to-peer idea sharing, consumers are busily exploring new food preparation options, and kitchenware suppliers are ready with tools to support them.

Buyers will find products supporting trends like the move to cold-brewed coffees, the expansion of the pressure cooker/cooking pot trend, bold baking, and the continuing move to home and on-the-go hydration.

The consumer’s embrace of smart home products is also on the rise, and the Housewares Show will again feature an in-depth look at this category with a Smart Home pavilion and several educational programs to help buyers stay updated with these emerging technologies.

Speaking of hydration, there seems to be a major growth in the beverage container market. How can grocers wade through all the choices to come up with the right mix?

 Hydration is a key marketplace product category driven by the consumer trends of health and wellness. The category includes hydration bottles, infusion and filtration products. Through technology, fashion and design, hydration and hydration-related products continue to drive the category’s growth. To help buyers navigate the category, the International Home + Housewares Show will introduce a new pre-Show event this year, the “Trending Today Preview.” For 2018, Trending Today will be a marketplace for hydration featuring 60 exhibitors of hydration and hydration-related products. The event will be held on Saturday, March 10, from 8-10 a.m., and run in conjunction with the New Exhibitor Preview in Room S100/Grand Ballroom, South Building.

What do you see as some of the challenges for the industry and for supermarkets in particular?

The rapid growth of online retail and what it offers consumers in terms of immediacy and access has forever changed the way the housewares industry goes to market. Other retailers may feature broader assortments and have more floor space dedicated to the category than supermarkets. However, while the changing consumer landscape is impacting much of the brick-and-mortar retail world, supermarkets continue to enjoy the benefits of regular and consistent foot traffic. Along with that traffic comes the opportunity to nudge consumers to purchase the tools to prepare their meals, to clean their homes or to entertain family and friends.

How can grocers best market and merchandise housewares?

Many grocers have found clever ways to overcome the obvious challenges brought on by the amount of space dedicated to the housewares category. Seasonal housewares category expansion, expanded cross-merchandising and robust in-line presentations of high-margin tools and gadgets, cookware and wine tools can enhance the shopper’s experience and add to profitability.

The same is true for other home products such as cleaning tools, kitchen textiles, home organization and canning accessories. Presented in season and positioned prominently, these categories are destined to expand the bottom line.

Read the full story in The Shelby Report’s February editions.

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About The Author

A word nerd, grocery geek and three-year member of The Shelby Report. She is a proud new homeowner and a great lover of avocado toast.