This time of year, as the housewares industry turns from Frankfurt’s Ambiente toward the International Home + Housewares Show, the race to discover the latest, greatest new products shifts into higher gear.
“Newness,” a term I’ve always found a bit awkward, nonetheless remains a common refrain when retailers are asked about their trade show pursuits.
And I can’t calculate how often I’m asked— by suppliers, retailers, analysts, deli clerks, neighbors, cousins— what the hottest new thing is in housewares. Everyone fully expects me to reveal definitively the shiny new objects on which they should fix their attention and dollars.
The marketplace’s obsession with newness is natural. But newness is not an all-or-nothing proposition.
Housewares marketers, ever the inventive types, no doubt will reveal some enticing new solutions promising sales success in the back half of this year and beyond. However, while the housewares business— every business, really— delights in the next big breakthrough, it runs every day on the steady evolution of ideas to make basic products a little better, not just different.
The creative efforts of this industry remain focused more on meat than sizzle. The continuously adapted and improved everyday core of the collective housewares offering provides the reinforced foundation to support genuinely transformative product development and introductions.
The annual HomeWorld Business Housewares Census, the category-by-category retail market data report included with the February 4 edition, reminds us about the unflappable value of everyday basics in this business.
Data & Insight
Yes, there are Census pages dedicated to some of the hottest new housewares categories— fast-rising stars poised for a possible progression from gleaming curiosities to long-standing staples. However, the Housewares Census is chock full of data and insight on categories and products that have been core to this business for years. And in those numbers lie critical factors underlying a creative, reliable and evolving industry that is a vital, steady contributor to retail sales and to everyday life.
Think about that as you sort, with hopeful anticipation, through all the “newness” in Frankfurt, Chicago, wherever. You very well might find the next housewares phenomenon you believe your business needs. Let’s hope so.
But don’t be overly fixated on the latest, greatest shiny new objects. Look closer for the refinements of the more routine products to which the housewares industry is staunchly devoted and at which it can be satisfyingly productive.
They might become the most important things you discover.