FRANKFURT— Ambiente exhibitors with a stake in the U.S. market said strong international buyer activity inside the Messe Frankfurt housewares and tableware halls offset a lighter turnout of American retail visitors.
The narrow time gap between Ambiente and the International Home + Housewares Show— this time just 18 days— once again caused some U.S. retailers to bypass the major German show. Some exhibitors also noted the opportunities they had to preview new products and programs with key U.S. buyers at the stateside winter gift shows also might have mitigated Frankfurt attendance by U.S. buyers.
Ambiente nonetheless attracted some notable American retailers, led by specialty retailers that have made the Frankfurt show a primary new product and trend platform for years. These include Williams-Sonoma, Sur La Table, The Container Store, Crate & Barrel and Bed Bath & Beyond. Others in Frankfurt ran the gamut from Target and Amazon to Bloomingdale’s and Home Depot.
Despite the growing buzz about Internet-connected smart home products, Ambiente directed a brighter spotlight on core performance improvements, including more durable non-stick coatings; faster, healthier cooking; easier cleaning; more versatile tableware; effortless slicing and dicing; more powerful blending and juicing; more functional beverageware and wine/cocktail accessories; and optimum coffee and tea prep and brewing.
Ambiente also revealed a renewed emphasis on fashionable styling, highlighted by neutral and soft colors that have been extending their presence across many housewares and tableware segments.
Officials at Messe Frankfurt reported increased internationality on the exhibitor and visitor sides. About 137,000 buyers from 143 countries attended the fair, versus 134,600 in 2015.
The proportion of visitors from outside Germany accounted for 55% of the total, more than ever before, the show operator said. The top ten visitor nations after Germany were Italy, France, Spain, the Netherlands, United Kingdom, China, USA, Switzerland, Turkey and South Korea. An additional 500 buyers made their way from Italy, this year’s Ambiente partner country, to Frankfurt. Above-average increases were also noted from Japan, South Korea, South America, Africa, the Middle East and countries bordering the Mediterranean.
Dr. Andreas Buske, CEO of Zwiesel Kristallglas, said, “The number of international visitors has risen yet again. In particular, we welcomed delegations, many of them including senior managers, from major trading houses… Overall, the mood is good; visitors are willing to buy, committed and dedicated.”
Michael Nouafo, vp/international household sales at Vitamix, added: “Ambiente continues to be the most important platform for presenting our range of products and reaching new target groups.”
In a ceremony during Italy Day at Ambiente, Italy handed the partner country globe to next year’s partner country, the United Kingdom. British design will be spotlighted during the 2017 Ambiente fair, set for February 10-14.