Full House

The International Home + Housewares Show in Chicago features more than 2,000 exhibitors introducing innovative and inspiring ideas and tools to grow the housewares business.

Vibrant and stable.

It has been a while since those words could be used to describe the housewares industry. Yet that is exactly what officials for the International Housewares Association (IHA) are saying as the International Home + Housewares Show approaches.

They say consumers are purchasing housewares products across every segment of the category, ranging from kitchen basics and bakeware, to the latest gadgets and small appliances. That news bodes well for all retailers—including grocers. Currently, the grocery channel accounts for 9% of housewares sales and according to IHA’s State of the Industry report, the biggest share of housewares sales in grocery is in cookware, bakeware, cleaning products, tabletop, stick goods, kitchen tools and accessories.

“Retailers who want to grow housewares sales would be well-served to play up these areas,” says Perry Reynolds, vice president, marketing and trade development for Rosemont, Ill.-based IHA.

On a broader scale, smart appliances and products than can multitask are among the trends manufacturers predict in 2013. Classic color combinations of black and white are also expected to make a comeback this year, while energy-saving features will become a new norm.

At the same time, another macro trend expected to be seen this year is the move to feature more casual products in the home. Consumers, especially younger generations, says Reynolds, are open to changing the appearance of their living space more frequently through the use of subtle, inexpensive updates. This interest, he adds, has resulted in more color being seen in home products as well as in unique shapes and sizes of kitchen appliances.

Despite the large amount of competition for shoppers’ dollars, industry observers say grocers are in an ideal position to build sales in the housewares category by offering relevant, high-margin, housewares sections. “The grocery store environment provides an exceptional opportunity to attract housewares shoppers as this is where thoughts of meal planning, home cleaning issues, kitchen prep and organizational needs are most top of mind. When this is combined with creative promotional, seasonal and cross-merchandising strategies, grocers can successfully attract these shoppers and build sales in the category,” says Reynolds.

The exhibitor count for the annual International Home + Housewares Show is up and Reynolds says attendees can expect to see a number of hot products highlighted at the show, which takes place March 2 – 5 in Chicago at the McCormick Convention Center.
The following is a closer look at what some companies are planning to feature at the show:

Bradshaw International
Bradshaw International leads off 2013 with a completely new look and rebranding of its entire Good Cook product line. According to Tom Barber, vice president of product development for the Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.-based company, a bold new logo now adorns all kitchen gadgets, tools, bakeware and cookware.

Good Cook products on display at the show include a new flour sifter that can measure flour before it is time for sifting and the Stuffed Burger Press designed to make perfectly formed stuffed burgers.

“Good Cook is also reinventing the simple tools this year,” says Barber. “For instance, we are introducing an elegant Spoon Rest that cradles utensils in two different positions with a simple change of configuration.” It was designed so that the chrome wire stand can easily detach from the ceramic base allowing the user to stand the kitchen tool vertically or horizontally. The base, he adds, is heat resistant and dishwasher safe.

For fun gadgets to go with fun food, Good Cook is expanding on the Popcorn Baller idea, with new shapes to mold candied popcorn. Using melted marshmallow or caramel, these colorful molds can help create party snacks for kids’ birthdays or for getting together for the big game, says Barber.

Candle-lite, a division of Cincinnati-based Lancaster Colony, will be focusing on two collections at the show. Mark Cunningham, vice president, sales and marketing says Candle-lite’s Sheer Simplicity line features classic feminine and masculine influences conveyed with complex oriental, woody, floral and fougere scents. “Our Vanilla Bloom fragrance, for instance, offers a softer interpretation of vanilla for a more luxurious appeal,” he says. “The candles are featured in an upscale jar styling and white wax so it can be enjoyed in every décor and room in the home.”

Candle-lite will also be unveiling the Candle-lite CityScapes collection at the show. The candles feature what Cunningham describes as destination fragrances, which have the ability to “transport consumers to another place.” The candles also feature stylized black and white artwork that let the flame flicker through the cylinder jar. The artwork is derived from the landmarks and architecture of six prominent cities of the world—Shanghai, New York, Paris, London, Rome and Rio de Janeiro.

Cool Gear International
Hank Roth, principal with Cool Gear International, based in Plymouth, Mass., says retailers can expect to see a number of key trends standout in 2013. One of which is food storage. As such, the company will be focusing on value and freshness through its new Collapsible and Take Home lines. Roth says Cool Gear will also continue the expansion of Cool Gear Chillers, which will feature holiday and Christmas themes with snow globes, motion and light ups.

“Another trend retailers can expect to see from us this year is our Super Hot Cool Gear Cans, which we believe will be the next hot hydration theme,” says Roth.

Core Home
Among the top trends anticipated for this year, according to Alan Bram, president of Core Home, based in New York, will involve colors and mixed materials. Bram says the company creates its housewares products with a “function meets design” aesthetic, so not only are its products top of the line quality, they add value through the use of vibrant colors and interesting materials. “We combine the durable, scratch resistant qualities of bamboo with stylish accents in stainless steel, silicone, and ceramic,” he says. In addition, another growing trend for 2013, says Bram, are cheese serving sets and at-home entertainment pieces. “We are seeing a growing demand from grocers for counter display units which showcase cheese sets that they can display next to their cheese counters.”

Core Home will be launching a new line of innovative kitchen tools and gadgets called Core Kitchen at the show. As a complement to their bamboo housewares, this collection expands into the kitchenware area with a vast number of tools, gadgets, cutting boards, knives, accessories and more. “Keeping with our function meets design initiative, this line uses a wide range of materials in unique shapes and sizes,” says Bram. Featuring tools constructed from nylon, silicone and stainless steel, bright colored polypropylene cutting boards and high carbon stainless steel knives, Bram calls the collection a one-stop shop for all types of food prep. In addition, the collection features a range of cast iron kitchen accessories that are an update to the classic styling. “Fun shapes, vibrant colors and interesting materials make Core Kitchen a line that every retailer will sell successfully. We have developed a variety of CDU’s and racks to merchandise this new range effectively in a grocery environment,” says Bram.

Hanna’s Candle Co.
When officials at Hanna’s Candle Co. launched the 6-ounce Aromabeads Candle line in the summer of 2012, they immediately knew they had a hit on their hands. Based on this success, the Fayetteville, Ark.-based company expanded the line with a seasonal-themed candle collection for Valentine’s Day, autumn and holiday, featuring names such as Frosted with Love Cupcake, Sugared Cinnamon Hearts, Romantic Passion Flower, Pumpkin Patch, Sugared Pecan, Candy Corn, Peppermint Perfection and Frosted Sugar Cookie.

“The Aromabeads are an innovative prill wax that enhances oxygenation to process the fragrance at a higher speed. This allows the fragrance of the candles to quickly penetrate the room,” says Helen Hattabaugh, senior brand manager.

Hattabaugh says Hanna’s Candles is about to launch an Aromabeads candle collection called “Nite Cap,” whose theme is cocktails. Fragrances that will be available starting spring/summer 2013 are: Vanilla Crème Cosmo, Salted Lime Margarita, Frosted Mango Daiquiri, Mixed Berry Spritzer, Fresh Peach Sangria, Bahama Dream Bellini and Red Appletini Royal.

Mizco International
Mizco International will be debuting the most recent addition to its portfolio of brands, Mizco Sports, a line of professional sports team logoed travel and portable power products. The line of Mizco Sports travel and portable power products feature NFL licensed team logos and will be available beginning in spring. According to Sam Mizrahi, executive vice president for the Avenel N.J.-based company, near future plans include expanding the line to comprise the other key licensed entities in sports and entertainment.
Among the products being introduced at the show are USB car and wall chargers that are compatible with most mobile devices. Also being introduced is a series of car chargers for Apple devices. Compatible with all 12V power supplies, the charger has a dedicated Apple connector, a one-hour charge time and saves device battery power, say company officials.

Also to be highlighted its 3-in-1 Car/Wall USB chargers, which are compatible with smartphones, tablets and other USB devices. The 3-in-1 device features dual USB ports that allow for two devices to be charged simultaneously and folding AC blades and car charger connector for maximum portability and easy storage. Each product will be available with every NFL team’s logo and team colors. Mizrahi says this is a critical distinction that provides retailers with a major advantage in selling to their customers. Mizco Sports will be introducing a complete range of self-merchandising displays with the product roll out, to provide retailers with a turn-key in-store sales and a merchandising program that will maximize sales all through the football season and beyond.

Now Designs
Bradley Kalmek, major accounts manager for Now Designs, says the retro theme as well as strong, vibrant colors into the kitchen continues to be a positive trend in the home textiles market. Licensed products also continue to be a top trend. The Blaine, Wash.-based company will be highlighting the launch of its Coca-Cola licensed Housewares collection.

“Our grocery assortment is primarily comprised of aprons, mitts, potholders, tea towels and mugs,” says Kalmek. “We are thrilled with our new relationship with Coca-Cola and feel we can offer grocery chains great Coke branded products and extremely competitive pricing.”

ShurTech Brands
Color and functionality will be key considerations for consumers in 2013, says Vanessa Delgado, category manager for shelf liners at ShurTech Brands. The Avon, Ohio-based company will be adding to its Easy Liner brand of shelf liners at the show. Delgado says the Diamond Grip Easy Liner features an innovative, first-of-its kind grip-style PVC-free shelf liner that offers up to two times the grip of most other non-adhesive shelf liners on the market. “This new, lightweight product also addresses—and eliminates—one of the biggest complaints of shelf liner users: slipping and bunching,” she says. Company officials say the Diamond Grip Easy Liner features a smooth surface that wipes clean easily, helping to make the clean-up of spills and splatters quick and easy.

“We will also be rolling out new shelf liner options to help users add a subtle touch of design and color, while staying within neutral hues,” says Delgado. “While taupe and white remain popular, grays and soft yellows in both solid and patterned formats can also be added in to complement.”

Wahl Clipper Corp.
At home personal grooming has hit an all time high, say officials at Wahl Clipper Corp. The Sterling, Ill.-based company will be featuring its stainless steel Lithium Ion + Grooming Kit. The product was initially introduced in early 2012 and it will be going into nearly all major retailers by the second quarter of 2013 say company officials. “We want to make sure the market is aware of this breakthrough in technology and the opportunity retailers have to develop a grooming department within their stores,” says Steven Yde, director of marketing.

The company will also be featuring its Lithium Personal Trimmer Set. “Based off the successful launch in 2012 of the Micro Groomsman Lithium Trimmer, we are following up with a complete three-piece personal groomer powered by Energizer’s Ultimate Lithium battery technology. This partnership will provide the most advanced personal grooming product with the most advanced disposable battery technology,” says Yde. Wahl will also be focusing on its new Lithium Ion Clipper kit. In the pain relief department, the company will have its hot/cold massager on hand, an item that was first launched in fourth quarter 2012. It continues Wahl’s focus on pain relief with a product that massages hot or cold depending on the individual needs of the user. Yde says retailers can also anticipate being among the first to learn about Wahl’s newly extended line of wet pet products which will compliment their successful pet shampoo line launched in 2012.

Whink Products Co.
Officials for Whink Products say taking the time to understand consumers’ unique needs has helped Whink create effective household cleaning products. Steve Throssel, president and CEO of the Eldora, Iowa-based company, says this understanding is reflected in one its newest products, Uniform Wash.

Throssel predicts the product, which is packaged in a 22-ounce squeezable container, will be a big hit with a broad range of consumers because of the untapped need it meets. “It’s not for grease monkey mechanics, but rather designed for people who work around light oils (food service workers), bodily fluids (healthcare workers) or who encounter dirt and grass stains (sports and lawn service workers). You can’t miss it in its distinctive red bottle,” he says. Whink’s other new product is their 97% natural Carpet Stain Remover, also in the new 22-ounce squeezable container. “Carpets get dirty enough without adding non-biodegradable ingredients to the mix,” says Throssel. To help these products stand out, Whink has paired them with colorful action-oriented labels. “Whink believes that the best innovations are the simple ones—something that works every time,” he says.

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