Lessons from the Housewares Show


this week I attended the International Home and Housewares Show, the huge
annual trade show of
Housewares show 2013 the kitchen gadget, tableware, small appliance and
cookware industries. I was curious to see the show since it had been many years
since I had last attended. It had definitely grown to over 2,100 exhibitors and
over 60,000 attendees from over 100 countries. But I was most struck by how
many celebrity chefs had their faces blown up much larger than life on booth
graphics and the electric vibe around the celebrity chef stage area where they cooked
for attendees and press cameras. This was a change from the last time I
attended, when most chefs  were virtually

talked enthusiastically about the chefs they got to meet, and  watched eagerly as the chefs demonstrated
their latest techniques and licensed products. A Movie Star excitement rippled
through the

Housewares guy crowd. This excitement  added
a real buzz to the show – a trade
show. We experience much the same excitement at our Chicago Toy & Game Fair
with many of the consumers excited to meet the inventors of toys and games. But
this was a trade show. 

flipping through one of the Housewares Show dailies, there were article titles
such as “Gorham Launches Rick Bayliss Collection” and “Meyer Corporation Showcases
New Cake Boss Brand.” Another turn of the page had Guy Fieri’s life-size
picture smiling at me. 

ago, housewares were a commodity much like toys and games are now. Making chefs
into household names and bigger-than-life characters changed all that. Now
there’s the sparkly and appealing celebrity factor that makes the products more
special, more  entertaining, and easier for
consumers to connect with on an emotional level. This is what our industry
needs to do to stand out in today’s world. When it comes down to it, we are
competing for the very same dollars housewares are. We spend money on gadgets
we don’t need and hardly use, and those egg beaters and microplanes certainly
aren’t as important as play is to individuals’ and society’s health and
wellbeing. We are in the entertainment industry and we have IMPORTANT products
that are VITAL to families and the community at large.

are starting to understand just how vital. I posted a link to an article this
morning that I wrote
Housewares rachel for ASTRA’s consumer newsletter, The WooHoo Factor, and it appears to be going viral. There were almost
50 shares (shares, not likes) in less than 3 hours from our Chicago Toy & Game and our Games for Educators Facebook accounts.
ASTRA asked for an article on board games, but I could have written about play
in general as well. http://www.yourneighborhoodtoystore.org/play-together.asp?i=89

past NY Toy Fair, there were more companies than ever smartly using the
inventors of their toys and games to demo products in their booths. And who better?
– The inventors love their products and have a vested interest in companies
doing well with  them. I saw media
articles and blogs coming out of NYTF that included excited mentions of meeting
the inventors in booths.

Housewares experience

I imagine that one day I see NYTF, Nuremberg, ChiTAG, London, Hong Kong, etc. exhibitors showcasing inventors to the extent the International Home and Housewares Show
does chefs? I hope so, because that means we will be competing for market share
as our competitors already effectively do, and our manufacturers will be selling
the particular brand of magic that inventors/designers instill in their creations
that is currently being ignored and given away for free. 


6 thoughts

  1. The actuality is that housewares is very special niche such as kitchen accessory, decorative ornamentals etc. But Toys are even a more special category of mixed groups with various ages and varying interest.

  2. Mary – I have to agree with you. As a Sales Representative in this area I do cross categories and housewares is one. The opportunity to see a basic product like a water bottle, converted into a hotel room humidifier shows great ingenuity, or the ability to take a mundane product like a potato peeler and make it fresh and new. I know the Toy Industry makes an effort to freshen up past winning products, but I certainly don’t want to see licensing costs i.e celebrity names added to products that drive up retails and don’t do much to improve the item.

  3. Love the idea about spotlighting “us” inventors. It happens some (but not enough) in the music industry, too…It’s not ALL about the singer who sang the hit song, but the songwriter whose words and music (the “invention”) originated it all. Thanks Mary for all your wisdom!

  4. I agree that the Face-to-Face connection builds excitement for a brand. I just see todays celebrity chefs more as the face of the brand rather than the creative power behind the actual product. That being said, I’d love to see the actual creatives in the toy industry being celebrated more. I do think that’s more the case when you go to Comic-con.

  5. Hi Jill,
    I don’t think it is the same as a product. It is about making a connection with a person. There is a story behind a person and you can identify with a person. You can go up and shake the hands of a person and tell them how much you enjoy their work. Face-to-face, connecting, bonding, whatever you want to call it – it sells.

  6. I love the idea of your vision, but when you think about it, the house ware show really is in step with the toy industry. Guy Fiere and Rachael Ray are brands as much as Barbie and Sponge Bob. It’s all a celebration of the license rather than the thing itself.

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