Demand for new products keeps housewares companies busy

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Demand for new products keeps housewares companies busy

By Carol Radice - 03/12/2018
Innovation, fashion and design remain the cornerstones for success in housewares, as manufacturers not only push to meet consumer needs, but inspire them to make that purchase.

As officials at the International Housewares Association noted, technology also is playing a large role in the category’s success. It has allowed suppliers to innovate, while shortening time-to-market. At the same time, suppliers are investing greater resources to provide high fashion, design and new technologies to reinvent basics and innovate with newness, both of which motivate buyers and consumers to purchase.

“The housewares industry continues to generate innovative and design-driven new products,” said Jon Jesse, vice president of industry development at the Rosemont, Ill.-based IHA. “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. 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.”

For many manufacturers, the annual International Home + Housewares Show, held each March in the Midwest, is the primary venue to introduce new products to an international audience of industry buyers and media. Jesse said that suppliers of every size across retail channels based upon their own market strengths, product offerings and the ability to meet a need within the marketplace.

Industry observers pointed out that consumers also are developing a renewed interest in personal health-and-wellness goals.

Experts have said those goals also are driving the hydration category, which includes water bottles and infusion and filtration products. Hydration products also are showcasing technology, fashion and design trends that the rest of the housewares category is seeing, according to officials at Bradshaw International. The company, which is largely a supplier of kitchen gadgets, is seeing success since launching its GoBottle in 2017. Designed for consumers who want reliable but stylish hydration options, the 25-SKU line sold under the company’s Good Cook brand comes in a variety of price points and options, including acrylic and stainless steel choices.

Melissa Simpson, senior channel manager at Bradshaw, said the clean, contemporary look of its GoBottle has been an instant hit with consumers. Its bold, trend-right colors are particularly attractive to shoppers looking for something different, she noted. And because Bradshaw’s research showed that consumers on the run want to take their hydration bottles wherever they go — be it work, the gym or hiking with a friend — the company included built-in loops on many styles so that the bottles can easily attach to backpacks or gym bags.

“The hydration category has been experiencing phenomenal growth the past few years, and we saw an opportunity to offer consumers a feature-filled, fashion-forward option that fits with their lifestyle,” Simpson said. “Many of our GoBottles, for example, are spill resistant, BPA-free and designed to be easily filled and cleaned.”

The IHA, noting the growth in consumer demand for hydration products, has created a preshow event, the Trending Today Preview: A Marketplace for Hydration. The March 10 event will include 60 exhibitors for buyers to meet with ahead of the show floor opening.

Lighting up the category
Technology isn’t just being brought to bear on hydration products. Lighters, too, are reaping the benefits of innovation, while bringing eco-friendly features and eye-catching designs to consumers, according to officials at Ontario, Calif.-based Calico Brands.

Calico’s Scripto brand, for instance, offers innovative multipurpose lighters with a variety of features, including an adjustable wind resistant flame, a flexible nozzle and a refillable folding mechanism.

In 2017, the company introduced two new innovative products — the Scripto EZ-Squeeze multipurpose lighter and the Scripto Ultima premium poc-ket lighter line. The Scripto EZ-Squeeze features a squeeze grip ignition for ease of use, a refillable tank, ergonomic design, visible fuel supply, an angled nozzle and a built-in hook for storage. The Scripto Ultima looks to bring a new design, look and feel to the pocket lighter category with more lights, colors and features. Calico touted the lighter line’s visible fuel supply, adjustable flame, 3,000 lights and polycarbonate material with high-impact resistance and high-heat resistance.

“Bringing innovation and new products to market is what Calico Brands is all about,” a marketing department official said. Our product innovations continue to set new category standards of excellence and be a catalyst for our growth and success in the marketplace.”

Consumers also are looking for décor to light up their spaces, which product development company Mark Feldstein and Associates is looking to capitalize on with its plan to launch more than 50 new products in the first quarter of 2018.

“Our series of LED Pillows, LED Door Greeters, LED Crackle Glass Globes and LED Porcelain Ornaments will brighten up any occasion and enhance any mood,” Howard Feldstein, marketing manager at the Sylvania, Ohio-based company, said.

Where modern, sleek designs are big in the hydration segment, home décor is trending toward a simpler feel.

“As for themes, the rustic look is trending strongly and was a driving force in the recent introduction of our line of Farmhouse Gifts wall clocks, LED branches, LED pillows, LED pumpkins, LED light boxes, LED canisters, candlestick holders and licensed canvases,” Feldstein said. “Additionally, millennials are driving the popularity of organic materials being incorporated into many of our products.”

Partner wisely
Clearly, opportunities abound in housewares, but with so many suppliers vying for a shot on the shelf, it can be a daunting exercise for retailers to understand which companies are in a position to help and which might hinder sales growth.

Marketing department officials at Calico Brands suggested retailers should look suppliers that produce quality products and abide by industry standards, regulations and social compliance. They said retailers also should focus on companies that turn to product innovation to grow the category, who are reliable, accountable and have in-depth knowledge of the product category, as well as brand recognition, manufacturing and distribution capabilities, and highly developed merchandising and promotional strategies.

Feldstein pointed out that as a product development company, its relevance in the industry is tied to staying in tune with current trends in the marketplace, and translating that into introducing innovative products that meet those consumer needs. “We take great pride in being recognized for our innovation, such as our one-of-a-kind Revers-a-brella No Drip Umbrella, which won a 2017 International Housewares Association Best in Category Global Innovation award,” he said.

Given the intense competitive pressures on retailers, Feldstein said partnering with suppliers that offer products with a perceived value is critical. “To us, that perceived value is defined as offering high quality products with innovative features that will meet the n