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Trends Observed at the 2016 International Home and Housewares Show

June 2016 Product, Selling

The 2016 International Home and Housewares Show was recently held at McCormick Place. It is notable in that it takes up three of the four expo halls at Chicago’s McCormick Place. It is a huge expo that takes days to walk through. Your feet will hurt! What is beautiful about this show is that you discover emerging trends in society — the items that will be dominating ecommerce sites and stores this upcoming holiday season.

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The first trend was that the Internet of Things (IoT) became visible this year on the show floor. The place that it was most visible was in the area of smart scales. You can connect to an IOS or Andriod mobile app and store your trend line. These scales provide metrics beyond your weight to include an estimate of your body fat, body water and muscle mass. The kind people at Taylor Precision Scale, Inc. sent a Model 7222F to try out. I’ve used it for about a month and can attest to it being a nice machine. No doubt we will see many more uses for the Internet of Things (IoT) that impact the home and housewares space.

 

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There were less microwave manufacturers displaying this year than in previous years. What seems to be replacing those you ask? Pressure cookers. Did you know that pressure cookers are commonplace in countries like Korea and Spain? I did not. Fagor is a division of Mondragon Corporation, a worker cooperative federation in Spain. Fagor kindly sent the Fagor 6-quart unit, item 670041880. I do not know how I’ve lived my whole life without a pressure cooker. I can now make risotto in seven minutes without stirring and perfect rice any time, and for the first time in my life; I’ve made my own Indian food. It actually costs a tiny fraction of the price to prepare when compared to going out to eat. Lamb shanks, yep it does that too. Pressure-cooking saves time as well as lowers calorie and fat counts if you choose to use no cooking oil as you would in a frying pan. Look for these to be taking over more kitchen counter top space in the years ahead.

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One of the most interesting booth visits I had was with Starfrit. Founder Jacques Gatien started selling kitchen gadgets at trade fairs in 1965. Over the past several decades, they’ve created many new categories. They showed me The Rock, a frying pan with a unique non-stick surface using what they call RockTec. It comes with a generous 10-year warranty. I’ve been able to try this innovative frying pan and while I have no idea if it lasts ten years or not, I can say the non-stick surface works as advertised.

I also saw Midea — a Chinese contract manufacturer —display nothing but agitator-free washing machines.

With the Flint, Michigan water crisis creating international news, there was an uptick of companies demonstrating water purification products. I will want to focus on this space more next year. The early phase marketing messages made it unclear which products brought the highest impact.

David Dalka is the Business Model Editor for the Wiglaf Journal.