International Home + Housewares Show Grows International, Buyer Attendance

March 26, 2014

How would you like a toaster that made grilled-cheese sandwiches? Or a robot that cleaned your windows? Or a coffee machine that also made soda? Innovation in everything from kitchenware to home décor and home healthcare was at the heart of the International Home + Housewares Show that took over the McCormick Place March 15-18 in Chicago.

The showfloor was sold out by January at 778,000 net square feet and featured some 2,100 exhibitors, more than 400 of which were first timers. It attracted about 60,000 attendees from 45 countries and saw a significant growth in international participation, as well as an increase in total buyer attendance, according to show management.

This also was the first year when the International Housewares Association that owns and produces the show was in collaborative agreement with Advanstar Communication’s Licensing Expo to cross-promote the events.

“The show’s Saturday morning opening is a proven success and once again received high praise from our Retailer Advisory Councils as well as from exhibitors,” said Phil Brandl, president and CEO of the International Housewares Association.

He added, “The 435 new exhibitors and the more than 10,000 new products on display drew much attention from buyers and media alike.”

The show was comprised of five parts, each featuring education, cooking demos and book signings. Innovation Theater next to the Pantone Display and Hall of Global Innovation featured a lineup of educational sessions throughout the event.

The association took the opportunity to capture the content created during those live presentation and record audio and video, as well as do blogging reports that capture the highlights. More than 30 exhibitors got profiled in feature videos that were then added to the show’s Youtube channel.

The life of the show also is extended online through Housewares Connect 365 tool that offers exhibitor, event, and speaker search, as well as show specials.

Attendee Kaneca Smith with K Interiors was on the hunt for multifunctional pieces that also can transform the space. “We’re working more with people who have apartments, and it makes you look at things differently,” she said. One notable item she came across was a table set that can be pushed together to create an end table. “It’s been a very good show. I’ve found lots of inspiration.”

The same concept to working with smaller spaces was bringing attendees to Atlantic, Inc. that was launching a new line of accent furniture. “We like to take a common item and add flair of fashion to it,” said exhibitor Marry Jo Schrader, pointing at a lineup of felt storage containers, lounge chairs and ottomans with mustaches and chevrons.

The show traditionally has a strong international presence, with many European brands flaunting cutting-edge design.

But at the Japanese pavilion, American ambassadors were busy facilitating global commerce. A crowd gathered at Aisen to see the new body-washing towels and sponges with micro-bristles.

“Japanese products have a strong reputation for forward thinking and innovation,” said Haruyoshi Miura. “We’ve seen some strong interest.”

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