Q&A: International Housewares Association rebrands its annual trade show
Since joining the International Housewares Association as its new president nearly a year ago, Derek Miller has worked hard to keep the Chicago-based trade association ahead of the curve. He sat down with Drug Store News to discuss his first year at the helm of the association and what might be coming down the pike in the future.
Drug Store News: The International Housewares Association has changed the name of its show to The Inspired Home Show. What is the thinking behind the name change?
Derek Miller: There have been several evolutions in the home and housewares space over the last couple of decades. There was a time when low price and functionality won the day. Then, consumers started gravitating toward products that were well designed and aesthetically pleasing, as well as functional. These days, the consumer is really looking to build a personal brand and a lifestyle that home and housewares products have to fit into.
Many of these consumers are taking their cues from influencers — both retail brand influencers and social media influencers. In order to win the consumer, retailers must recognize this attitude and work toward helping consumers develop that lifestyle that they crave. With this in mind, we have renamed and reimagined the show as the Inspired Home Show to signal a shift in focus from basic product functionality and design to lifestyle development. Consumers are curating their own lifestyles and seeking out products — and retailers — that they feel align with their own personal brand.
DSN: How does this benefit retailers in the mass retail market?
DM: Mass retailers are absolutely able to capitalize on this shift in consumer buying in multiple ways — from developing product lines with designers and influencers that evoke specific lifestyles, to using in-store and online visual merchandising to inspire consumers’ personal brand development through home and housewares products, to evolving their marketing to feature more lifestyle imagery and language.
For the show to help retailers think in this vein, we have created some new and enhanced show features and experiences. We have reimagined several areas on the show floor to better align with the consumer lifestyle vision.
Our IHA Global Innovation Awards (gia) for Product Design and Discover Design displays will move to a more prominent centralized area on the floor and will feature all finalists and winners rather than photos. Our partnership with Pantone continues, and we will move the ColorWatch by Pantone exhibit to a main thoroughfare in order to highlight the on-trend, color-coordinated vignettes of consumer living that are curated for that space.
We are also developing trend-driven product areas so that retailers can marry the consumer trend insights from our educational program with the products that fulfill those consumer trends.
And retailers can expect to find several enhancements to the ways that the show curates and shines a spotlight on what’s new. We have dedicated areas throughout the show that make it easy for attendees to quickly and efficiently locate the newest products in each housewares category. In addition, we will hold a keynote session on Sunday morning that will reveal our new annual MarketWatch report — the biggest consumer-driven trends that will impact the home and housewares industry in the next year, along with implications for each individual product category.
DSN: How is the show going to work this year in terms of scheduling? Logistics?
DM: The show will continue to run over four days — from Saturday, March 14, through Tuesday, March 17. We are in our second year of holding two smaller-scale events on the Friday before the show. The first is what we are calling Independents’ Day, which is an educational and networking event focused on independent retailers’ needs. The second is The Inspired Home Influencer Conference, which is an educational and networking event for home and lifestyle influencers. We are expecting approximately 300 influencers to join us for that conference and then stay for the show as well.