NEW YORK — Quality and performance are important standards sought by housewares consumers whose discretionary spending is very much on hold because of the uncertain economy, said Perry Reynolds, vice president of marketing and trade development, International Housewares Association, during a sneak preview here earlier this month at the 2010 International Home + Housewares Show. The annual housewares exhibition will take place on March 14-16 at McCormick Place, Chicago.
“It doesn't matter whether it is a $5 or $100 kitchen knife, consumers want the best quality and performance of a product in whatever price point,” Reynolds said.
Other key trends, he said, propelling housewares product sales this year are: products that address sustainability with eco-friendly design and materials for green living; waste management and recycling; food safety; security protection; health and wellness products that relate to the home; and food preparation tools that make it easy, affordable and even fun to cook at home.
Food prep tools are particularly appropriate for the grocery channel, which is ideally suited to merchandise cooking tools to consumers who are finding it more affordable and healthier to cook at home.
There are opportunities for supermarkets, Reynolds pointed out. He believes the grocery channel can win greater category share from mass merchandisers and supercenters, which generate the largest share of housewares sales, by taking advantage of grocery's frequency of shoppers and the channel's ability to cross-promote housewares in related food aisles.
The IHA, based in Rosemont, Ill., plans to produce a report this spring on the value of merchandising housewares in supermarkets. The report will be based upon a survey of retailers and suppliers on the value of cross-merchandising housewares with food, said Reynolds.
While the housewares show lost a few key large supplier exhibitors last year, such as Hamilton Beach and Hoover, such companies plan to return this year, Reynolds said. He did note that last year's show drew about 400 new exhibitors, especially entrepreneurs who are driven by innovation. Such smaller suppliers made up a large percentage of the nearly 60 companies participating in the preview.
For smaller housewares companies, the “barrier to [retail] entry is low,” said Reynolds, and it helps that housewares is driven by innovation. Retailers seek out unique items to attract shoppers to their stores.
The National Association of the Specialty Food Trade was a preview exhibitor and will once again co-locate an event with the housewares show. Perry said the association is working with True Value Hardware to attract attendees. True Value hosts a trade show during the same time frame as the housewares show.
IHA and The Travel Goods Association have announced plans to co-locate with the 2011 Housewares Show.
Products presented at this year's preview event were innovative and addressed some of the current consumer trends in housewares. Some products, however, were not always appropriate for the supermarket channel due to high price points or because they were targeted to the specialty store segment or sold direct through cable TV or online.
Hot housewares colors this year, according to the Pantone Color Institute, (such as tomato puree, Beaujolais, super lemon and apple green) and exotic colors (Dijon, paprika and chutney) reflect consumers' need for health and artisanal foods sold at greenmarkets.
Here are some new products viewed by SN at the preview:
Cool mist humidifiers from Crane USA: Addresses the health/wellness issue as it relates to dry-itchy skin, relief from nasal congestions, sinus irritations and dry coughs. New ergo-looking Drop Shape humidifiers come in white/blue, hot pink, bright green and solid white. Company also has a line designed for kids. Crane mentions the Food and Drug Administration recommends OTC cough-and-cold medications not be given to children under 6 years old because of the risk of serious side effects due to accidental overdoses. Cool mist humidifiers are recommended by pediatricians as a safe alternative to relieve colds/coughs in infants and young children. The kids' misters come in colorful animals shapes. Retail price points range from $39.99-$49.99. Meijer is currently selling the line, according to a company spokesman.
Compost pail from Anchor Hocking: Targets home gardeners and offers the convenience of storage inside home until ready for trip to outside compost pile. Designed for countertop use and has built-in carbon filter to eliminate odors. Pails are in black and white. Suggested retail is $19.99-$29.99. The company said it is focused on cross-merchandising opportunities at supermarkets. They are currently merchandising stemware in Publix wine departments, said a company representative.
Cooking tools from Kuhn Rikon: Easy and convenient define these quality products from the Swiss company. An egg separator, suggested retail $15.95, cleanly and perfectly separates egg whites from yolks with easy storage in the refrigerator. Battery-operated Frosting Deco Pen, suggested retail $29.95, is a cake/cookie-decorating utensil for home cooks to easily make professionally looking baked goods. Sold at Williams-Sonoma and Sur La Table.
Large pet storage from Buddeez: Stores up to 55-pound pet food bags in a convenient roll-away heavy-duty storage container. Comes with one cup measuring scoop. Sold through Supervalu stores and H.E. Butt Grocery. Suggested retail is $39.99.
Black & Decker Shredders from HoMedics: The company known for its health/wellness products has the rights to sell paper shredders under the Black & Decker brand. These shredders look like air ionizers rather than grey box shredders. Appearance drives demand rather than price points, said a company representative. HoMedics is appealing to consumers' need for recycling and identity protection with designs that fit into their home decor. Price points range from $49.99 to $149.99
Strawberry huller and slicer from Chef'n: Takes the labor out of fresh strawberry preparation. It's called the StemGem, and a stainless-steel claw easily removes strawberry stems. Suggested retail is $7.99. The Strawberry Slicester, suggested retail $14.99, quickly slices strawberries through stainless steel blade press. Company said products are sold through Amazon.com. A sub-brand of Chef'n, called Vibe, is sold by Target and Publix.
Burger Bites and Cactus Kabobs from Nordic Ware: For grilling enthusiasts and those watching their calorie intake, Nordic Ware has designed a pan for mini-burgers, often called sliders, for meals or appetizers. The Cactus Kabob is a flat skewer so food won't slide off or turn. One kebob, suggested retail $9.99, fits two whole servings of food.
Green floor care from Weiman: New line in bright green packaging consists of cleaner, floor polish and carpet cleaner that carries EPA's Design for the Environment seal, which recognizes companies that integrate health and environmental considerations into their products. Contains little or no volatile organic compounds and does not contain any hazardous solvents, toxic chemicals or other harmful ingredients. Sold at Publix, Kroger and Supervalu. Wegmans is running display program, said company representative.
Green clean tools from Full Circle: Company was launched last year to pair eco-friendly cleaning tools with new green cleaners. Tools such as dish, bottle, vegetable brushes and pot scrubbers are ergonomically designed and made from renewable materials, such as bamboo, cellulose and loofah, and biodegradable materials, such as Bonterra, a plant-based plastic. Available at Safeway, Ralphs and Earth Fare. Suggested retail ranges from $4.99-$7.99.
Garlic Twist from Nex-Trend: Tool combines function and design to create effective means of mincing garlic, ginger and a variety of other foods. Tool features ergonomic grips around perimeter and cross-cutting teeth inside. Suggested retail is $14.99.
Snack Tape from Lifetime Brands: A resealable adhesive strip to keep food fresh longer and reduce food waste. The tape is easily removed and reused.