Housewares Retail – Disruption and Opportunities Abound at CHESS 2017
One of the most interesting events I attend each year is IHA’s CHESS where leading housewares industry experts give a rundown on trends in the housewares industry. Plus there is the Tuesday dinner at The Capital Grille in Rosemont, IL which is a super-feast topped by the best steak I have had. (A terrific perk working with the housewares industry is the fantastic food!)
This year’s CHESS conference examined how the housewares industry is impacted by the strong trends of digital retail and that Americans are spending more time at home.
- Online retail is disrupting the housewares market leaving execs wondering how to best thrive or even just survive in the new environment. Changes are causing plenty of pain, but in the end, consumers will have more choices with better products. Confidence is high that the changes will create more wealth. The challenges are for housewares brands and retailers to adjust to the new reality.
- The housewares industry is growing. It is the 3rd fastest growing retail sector after make-up and toys. Products for travel enjoy expanding opportunities as consumers are more interested in creating memories rather than owning objects. Home cooking, health and wellness products are much in demand as consumers spend more time at home and seek a more athletic lifestyle.
- Off-price stores are thriving because consumers seek bargains while appreciating quality. All the while department stores are in trouble. Providing a little bit of everything with higher prices is not today’s winning formula.
- Brick and mortar stores will remain. Despite preconceptions, Millennials, as well as Baby Boomers, do like shopping in stores. "They all said they need to touch and feel the products. Pictures on a screen do not give a sense of scale, nor quality." To take advantage of these preferences, stores need to adjust with a better shopping experience and to be competitive on pricing. Retailers don’t necessarily have to beat online retailers on price. But they have to be competitive. Remember, even with next day delivery, the buyer still has to wait longer than if they bought at the store and brought it home right away. Shoppers of all ages still prefer that option more often as not. Brick and mortar stores could better connect with consumers by offering in-store online shopping with the ability to take their purchase home.
- Brick and mortar, online retailers and brands’ online stores can coexist. When brands see all these channels as partners, they will enjoy better sales growth. Consumers still want the store experience. Online retailers offer selection and price. Brands that build their own e-commerce websites have unique opportunities to create an emotional bond with their customers that will payoff for years. They do that by showing they are the experts in their product field and by receiving direct customer feedback. They can offer exclusive products or a larger variety of products than what they can buy at other retailers, whether online or at traditional stores.
- International sales offer opportunities for robust growth for housewares manufacturers. People around the world want a piece of the American experience. Visiting the USA is not possible for most. But buying American products does start to satisfy that desire.
- Influencer marketing is highly effective. For it to work, you have to keep it real. Identify influencers who match up well with your products. Don’t try to change them or tell them how to pitch your product. It just won’t work. If the fit is good, the results can be excellent. IHA offers its members the opportunity to have industry influencers use their products and to illustrate their value at The Inspired Home. Check out the editorial calendar and find the right fit for your brand!
You can learn more about what the wide variety of experts presented regarding market trends, retail innovations, Boomer and Millennial focus groups, and insight at IHA’s CHESS blog.