Buckle up. The race for housewares retailing success in 2011 gets out of the gate immediately in this new year with a steady string of trade shows that could help propel the most curious, alert and confident buyers to an early lead.
Beginning with the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, there were no fewer than nine trade shows in January catering to the home goods industry. This included stops in Atlanta, New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, San Francisco and Orlando covering everything from giftware to tableware to gourmet housewares to furniture to lighting to DIY.
Then it’s on to Frankfurt, Germany, for Ambiente in early February; to Chicago for the International Home + Housewares Show in early March; to High Point for furniture and New York City for tabletop in early April; and back to Las Vegas for hardware in early May.
Come on, do we really need all these trade shows, some might ask? I’ve got my laptop, my iPad, my BlackBerry, and I’m already connected with everyone I’ll need this year, some might say. Trade shows can be a waste of time and money, some might believe.
Perhaps it is unrealistic to expect today’s time-pressed, cost-conservative retailers to hit all or most of the trade shows served up by the home goods industry during the first few months of the year.
Or, perhaps it has never been more important for today’s most ambitious and progressive retailers— and those that want to be viewed as such— to shop as many shows as they can to re-enlist existing vendors while uncovering new resources and products that could make the difference between an OK year and a great year.
The long-term value of the trade show often is optimized not by what you expected, but by what you didn’t expect.
The Extra Mile
The housewares retailing landscape is marked by scores of successful products, brands and suppliers that started in the back corners of convention centers or showroom buildings. And by buyers who walk the extra mile during shows in hope of discovering and capturing the next household phenomenon.
At the risk of offending anyone by singling out one product, it would be hard to find anyone in this business who would argue the Soda Stream soda maker wasn’t a huge, breakthrough hit in 2010. The Soda Stream, like many star products in this business, wasn’t born from an established U.S. market leader with prime, upfront trade show exhibit space. You can bet it’s up front on retailer shopping lists now.
Turn The Corner
Someone, somewhere was the first to see the potential in the product and take a chance on it.
What’s the next Soda Stream? And where will it be found? No one knows, of course. But it might be there, in plain sight, for some determined buyer who treks to yet another trade show in yet another city. And who turns the corner to head down yet another aisle.
Give credit to the many trade show operators, recognizing their heightened battle for the industry’s discretionary money and time, for developing programs to facilitate and enrich the interaction between buyers and sellers before, during and after the shows.
None of it matters, though, if you don’t shop the shows, and don’t shop them thoroughly. If you aren’t willing to work more diligently for the prize in this new marketplace— whether from a company you already do business with or from one you have yet to meet— you might never get the prize.
It’s important to jump out to an early lead this year. The shows are waiting.
Ready. Set. Go.