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Supermarket Buyers’ Presence Growing At Housewares Show

Perry Reynolds
Perry Reynolds

Last updated on June 14th, 2024 at 09:44 am

Perry Reynolds, VP of global trade development for the International Housewares Association, told Shelby Report VP-Midwest Geoff Welch that the number of buyers from U.S. supermarkets is up at the 2016 International Home + Housewares Show this year. Reynolds spoke from the show floor at McCormick Place in Chicago, where the show wraps up today, March 8.

“Housewares seems to finally be resonating in the way that it really should—it’s a great category for supermarkets,” Reynolds said. “This category, this business, is an excellent adjunct for supermarkets, giving the consumer another choice” of where to buy their housewares.

Offering housewares has been shown to build customer traffic, which leads to additional profit, Reynolds pointed out.

The show hosted a presentation for supermarket retailers to detail those benefits of offering housewares. A representative from Kroger, which has a significant housewares business, was part of that retail advisory group, Reynolds said, adding that “virtually every major supermarket chain in the country (is attending the show), and some of them are represented in very big numbers.”

housewares logoIn more news from the show…

Impact of Millennials explored at show

There’s no question Millennials are making their presence known in the marketplace. New research from HFN on how Millennials make themselves at home was shared this week at the show; the presentation was followed by a panel discussion on what it all means and why business will never be the same again.

HFN chief brand officer Maureen Azzato opened the session, “How Millennials Make Themselves at Home,” with key findings from HFN’s “2016 The Housewares Consumer Speaks” report.

“There are now more Millennials than Baby Boomers in the home and housewares market, and their buying intentions are strong,” said Azzato.

As a whole, “they love to entertain, eat out less, crave unique experiences and authenticity, are environmentally aware and socially conscious. Health and wellness is integral to their lives.”

Among the specific findings:

70 percent of Millennials prefer lifestyle furniture stores to traditional ones.

They are unafraid to combine decorating styles, with rustic contemporary being a favorite.

• Thirty-three percent plan to buy a blender in 2016 (more than twice the amount of Gen Xers or Baby Boomers).

  One-pot cooking is extremely popular, with slow cookers being a favorite solution.

A majority of Millennials reported vacuuming every day.

When it comes to glassware, design is the most important feature…with contemporary looks the most popular.

  In cookware, durability is the most important feature, and Millennials appear more willing to spend more in this category.

Following the presentation, HFN editorial director Warren Shoulberg led a panel discussion on what this all means for housewares manufacturers and retailers.

Panelists included retailers Kecia T. Hielscher, VP/EMM, Nordstromrack.com/HauteLook, and KC Lapiana, owner of In the Kitchen and president of HTT Buying Group; and manufacturers Jeffrey Kruskall, VP of business development, Meyer Corp., and Julie Owens, director of marketing, Blendtec.

Millennials have “raised the bar for manufacturers and for retailers as well. It’s important that we all listen to and learn from them,” said Kruskall. “This consumer group’s biggest concern is that they want to be heard. At the same time, it’s not ‘one size fits all’ within this age group.”

In general terms, panelists agreed Millennials like to do their own research, which has affected their marketing and merchandising. Both packaging and online copy needs to be bite-sized or bulleted, simple and in priority order.

“Because they’re already so well-educated, we’ve found that when they come into the store, it’s beneficial for our sales associates to step back a little,” said Lapiana. “If vendors can provide us with video or other elements (Millennial shoppers) can interact with themselves on the sales floor, that’s helpful. They don’t like to be talked to unless they’re ready to be talked to.”

“Millennials trust their parents, they trust bloggers and they trust online reviews,” added Owens, not necessarily salespeople.

“Brand for us is key,” said Hielscher. “Brands incite credibility. That being said, if we find a product that doesn’t have a strong brand but hits our other criteria, we can build a story around it.”

With Millennials in mind, her team evaluates products for function, tech-savviness, trendiness, customizability and quality.

The panel also agreed that social media and a strong online presence is important, though there may not be any single golden platform or approach.

A lot of people still ask Owens about Blendtec’s popular “Will It Blend?” viral campaign.

“There’s no secret sauce for digital strategy,” explained Owens. “What happened is we shared a story. And then someone shared that story and someone else liked that story and passed it on. While you can’t always have that magical strategy, you can always tell a compelling story.”

Those stories can help cut through the clutter.

“(Millennials) think quickly—they want it yesterday—and they’re multi-taskers,” said Kruskall. “They could be watching ‘House of Cards’ and researching cookware on their phone at the same time.”

As far as the push and pull between online sites and brick-and-mortar stores, the panel had different experiences with Millennials’ preferences.

“It appears that with higher priced items, the more likely they are to come in and try it out in-store,” said Owens.

“We’ve found Millennials prefer to come into bricks and mortar stores,” said Lapiana. “They still want an experience. They like to be engaged.”

Yet Hielscher shared that 50 percent of her (multi-channel) company’s sales during the recent holiday shopping season were from purchases made on mobile devices.

At the end of the day, Millennials are “completely comfortable with who they are,” said Owens. “And I think that’s one of the coolest things about them.”

Renewed interest in cooking, health and wellness brings opportunities to turn food shoppers into housewares buyers

As home cooking has experienced a remarkable rebound (thanks to economics, television and a growing interest in healthy eating that spans the generations), there are tremendous opportunities for retailers to turn food shoppers into housewares buyers, according to a panel of retailers and category experts at the show.

The seminar, “Turning Food Shoppers into Housewares Buyers,” featured a panel, including Mark Mechelse, director of research, industry insights and communications, Global Market Development Center; Brett Bradshaw, president, Bradshaw International Inc.; Joe Kirby, VP of retail sales and category development, Imperial Distributors Inc.; Anna Manicini, VP of merchandising, Valu Merchandisers Co.; and Tammy Marlowe, director of GM/HBW, Associated Food Stores Inc. Retail Insights thought leader Todd Hale (formerly of Nielsen) served as moderator.

An important but basic starting point is moving from the term “kitchenware” to “food prep,” which is how the shopper shops and thinks about the healthy preparation of fresh food items, according to Mechelse.

“In order to start talking about opportunities for food prep, we need to start breaking down the silos between food items and non-food items in stores,” he said.

The panel agreed that sales increase—often significantly—when food prep items are merchandised alongside fresh items in the perimeter of stores. That could be as basic as a pineapple corer displayed adjacent to fresh whole pineapples or a more ambitious program that includes multiple food prep and food items, recipes, recommendations or onsite demonstrations.

“One of the main things we need to do is continue to win on the perimeter of the store,” said Bradshaw. “Consumers are time-starved, but they want to eat healthy meals.”

Manicini agreed, saying, “Consumers are looking for healthier foods, more super-ingredients, and they’re looking for help in terms of making good food choices.”

In addition, according to Hale, Millennials shop store perimeters—where the deli, meat and produce departments are—more than the center store, where kitchen prep items usually are located.

Retailers also should use special promotions to attract attention to food prep items. After all, 50 percent of all shoppers are influenced by what they see in stores, according to Mechelse.

“In food stores, we have the advantage of consumers making multiple trips,” said Kirby. “How can you mix things up each time a customer visits your store?”

That may mean special displays of turkey basters or potato mashers at Thanksgiving or avocado pitters or peelers before Cinco de Mayo.

“But promotions or special displays don’t have to be just during the big holidays,” pointed out Marlowe. “There are birthdays, anniversaries, everyday get-togethers.   Any kind of seasonal, solution-driven display is valuable.”  

In-store demos often yield a high return.

Partnerships between vendors and retailers are important when creating special displays or promotions, or even to help with logistics.

“It’s not just about the product,” said Bradshaw, noting his company can assist with fixtures in all different shapes and sizes for displays.

“Fixtures become really important as we move items from the center of the store to the perimeter,” agreed Manicini.

Last but not least, retailers need to make sure they know their consumers and are speaking to them.  

“When you think about speaking to Millennials, it’s important to remember that you need to speak to them differently,” Hale pointed out.  

Also, each generation is more multi-cultural than the next.  

“If you see people who look like you in ads, you’re more likely to respond,” he said.

A digital strategy, cause-marketing and ethnic marketing were all mentioned as ways of reaching and connecting with today’s consumers.

12 companies honored with IHA Global Innovation Awards for product design

Twelve housewares suppliers ranging from well-established brands to first-time exhibitors were honored as winners of the IHA Global Innovation Awards (gia) for product design. The winners in each of 12 categories were announced during the invitation-only gia dinner on the first evening of the show.

Winners are:

• Bath + Personal Care: simplehuman, spin cabinet

Cleaning: Kuhn Rikon, Stay Clean Scrubber

Cook + Bakeware: Alessi USA Inc., Pulcina design Michele De Lucchi

Home Décor + Gifts: Eva Solo A/S, Window Birdfeeder

Home Organization + Storage: Stasher, Stasher

Household Electrics + Home Environment: Bruno SmartCan, Bruno SmartCan

• Kitchen Electrics: Aquarius Brands, AquaBoy Pro II

Kitchen Hand Tools + Cutlery: Smith’s Consumer Products Inc., Compact Digital Scale-Plastic

Kitchenware: Prepara, Adjustable Oil Pourer

Personal Care: Jobar International Inc., Color Changing Wrist Blood Pressure Monitor

Pet Products: Enchanted Home Pet, TheraCool – Pet Mat

Tabletop: Eva Solo A/S, My Flavor Carafe

“Congratulations to these winners of the IHA Global Innovation Award for product design; they are excellent representatives of the cutting-edge innovation and creativity that is driving the housewares industry today,” said Phil Brandl, IHA president and CEO. “Our world-renowned gia program is the ultimate awards event in the industry, honoring excellence in both housewares retail and product design.”

More than 500 products were entered in the IHA Global Innovation Awards (gia) competition. The 60 finalists in all categories are featured in the New Product Showcases in the Buyers Club in each show building, with the 12 category winners on display in the Hall of Global Innovation in the Lakeside Center.

2016 gia Global Honorees for Retail Excellence revealed

The International Home + Housewares Show and the IHA, the global sponsors and organizers of the gia program, also have announced the 2016 gia Global Honorees for Retail Excellence.

The Global Honorees are:

Lakehouse, Canada

Illums Bolighus, Denmark

Kitchen Shop, Malaysia

K’OOK!, Netherlands

Lords, United Kingdom

The global gia jury, consisting of four retail/visual merchandising experts and seven editors and publishers of co-sponsoring housewares trade publications from around the world, selected the gia Global Honorees from the winners previously chosen in their respective countries by the national gia sponsors. In addition, the Martin M. Pegler Award for Excellence in Visual Merchandising was awarded to Karaca Home of Turkey, and the gia Digital Commerce Award for Excellence in Online Retailing was awarded to Cooking The Kitchen Co. of Spain.

The gia program was created by the IHA and International Home + Housewares Show to foster innovation and excellence in home and housewares retailing throughout the world. Since the launch of gia in 2000, there have been close to 350 gia retail award winners, from more than 40 countries on six continents.

The competition is structured on a two-tier level, national and global, evaluating retailers within the following categories:

Overall mission statement, vision and strategy

• Store design and layout

Visual merchandising, displays and window displays

Marketing, advertising and promotions

Customer service and staff training


Co-sponsoring the country-specific gia award programs with IHA are housewares trade publications worldwide, which sponsor national gia programs in their respective countries. This year, 25 national gia winners from 23 countries were selected by co-sponsoring trade publications with targeted distribution in more than 30 countries on five continents. All winners were automatically entered in the global competition at show, where the global jury selected the final gia Global Honorees.

Both gia national winners and Global Honorees are recognized and prominently featured at the International Home + Housewares Show. A gia awards dinner was held at the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel. In addition, introducing the national gia winners to visitors and exhibitors of the International Home + Housewares Show, there is a special gia display in the Hall of Global Innovation, in the Lakeside Center Lobby, and large gia winner banners span the walkway connecting the Lakeside Center to the Grand Concourse.

Owned and operated by the International Housewares Association, the show features more than 2,200 exhibitors and more than 62,000 total attendees from more than 100 countries.

About the author

Shelby Team

The Shelby Report delivers complete grocery news and supermarket insights nationwide through the distribution of five monthly regional print and digital editions. Serving the retail food trade since 1967, The Shelby Report is “Region Wise. Nationwide.”

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