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Top 5 Observations from the Builders and Kitchen & Bath Shows

By Frank von Holzhausen on Friday February 21st, 2014

 
 
 

The International Builders Show and the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show shared the spotlight recently at the bustling Las Vegas Convention Center. Traffic was strong and ran much deeper into the week than any show we’ve been to in a while… – perhaps a testament to current realities and future hopes for a continuing rebound in home building and remodeling. Here are a few observations from our vantage point – will any be in evidence in the upcoming Housewares or Hardware Shows?

Top 5 Observations from the Builders Show and Kitchen & Bath Show

The International Builders Show and the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show shared the spotlight last week at the bustling Las Vegas Convention Center. Traffic was strong and ran much deeper into the week than any show we’ve been to in a while – perhaps a testament to current realities and future hopes for a continuing rebound in home building and remodeling.

Here are a few observations from our vantage point:

  • Lots of Lighting, Lots of Confusion. New lighting fixtures and technologies were a strong presence. But there is a need for someone to step forward and establish clear direction on how to apply the new technologies and create value propositions for consumers beyond replacing incandescent bulbs.
  • Social – a new trend in cooking and kitchens? Instead of one person cooking in a separate (figurative or literal) space from guests, we see a direction to engage families and guests in and around the kitchen as meals take shape.
  • Proprietary is the Holy Grail. Off-shore manufacturers once again had a large presence and instead of waiting for the other shoe to drop – true innovation targeting the U.S. consumer – some U.S. manufacturers are making concerted efforts to build lasting differentiation through new intellectual property.
  • Renewed Focus on Merchandising. Even under the tightest constraints, the presentation “suite” needs to work as one to help move products off the shelf.   Many companies are refocusing on their packaging or merchandising to support point of purchase.
  • Investing for Growth. Economic activity reports, statistics and forecasts can be spun to support growth, stagnant or declining patterns, but this just feels like things will bust loose. Pent-up demand for improvements and new construction, renewed manufacturer vigor and optimism and yes, (mostly) positive economic activity reports, seem to be flowing in the right direction.

The International Housewares Show in March and the National Hardware Show in May should be interesting. We will be attentive to the stirrings, trends and innovation quotient and post our thoughts after each.

Frank von Holzhausen is President & Chief Design Officer of Group 4, a Research, Innovation & Design firm he founded in 1972.

 

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