We recently attended the International Home + Housewares Show (IH+H) held in Chicago, IL March 2-5.  McCormick Place was filled with the latest products from over 2,200 suppliers.  The Show is attended by nearly 60,000 industry professionals.

Our first stop was the Pantone exhibit to explore new color trends and explore key visual merchandising concepts.  Pantone 16-1546 Living Coral is the color of the year.  We saw a lot of home and houseware goods in pastel, vibrant, and earth-tone colors at this year’s show.

We learned about the specialty coffee movement in the industry and experienced a marketplace for specialty beverages. Specialty and craft beverage products continue to drive drinkware category to record levels. It was overwhelming to see the number of insulated water bottles being sold by a variety of companies.

We talked to many suppliers with smart and connected products in the Smart Home Pavilion. B8ta provided new ideas in smart-related products for the home. B8ta is retail-as-a-service company with a chain of retail stores which serve as presentation centers for consumer electronics and other innovative products. The company operates 12 standalone locations, 70 store-within-a-store locations.

We heard that consumers continue to shop outside of traditional retailers, and many shopper segments are shifting online where there is a complex web of influences. Digital has transformed the way people make purchasing decisions. Digital marketing strategies seemed more important than ever to help a brand stand out in a crowded marketplace.

We spent time reviewing the Global Innovation Award (GIA) product design candidates, representing 13 houseware categories, and we reviewed the GIA honoring housewares retail excellence candidates for inspiration.

It is obvious that choice (color, patterns, etc.), flexibility (size, shape, etc.), and a strong digital strategy continue to be important. Also, small-format stores are trending, and retailers that offer compelling in-store experiences seem to have the best chance to succeed.

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