New Virtual Event from IHA: Connect Spring

The housewares industry and consumer trends post-pandemic, the now normal, post-COVID retailing, diversity and inclusion, the future of the smart home, and seasonal and holiday trends for 2021 are some of the topics featured during Connect SPRING, an IHA virtual event, set for March 16-26. Beginning on Tuesday, March 16, and running every weekday through Friday, March 26, Connect SPRING will offer a mix of keynote and education sessions, virtual product demonstrations, IHA Market Watch trends, and Ask the Experts consultations. IHA created the event in partnership with The NPD Group and Springboard Futures.

“The primary goal of Connect SPRING is to connect buyers and sellers around new product innovations, education, and expertise that address the evolving and emerging consumer needs from this unprecedented past year, providing direction for the road ahead,” said Derek Miller, IHA president. “By the time the August 2021 Show is held, it will have been 29 months since the industry has been able to convene in a meaningful way. All of the retailers and suppliers with whom we regularly communicate are telling us that there
is an immediate need to connect in Q1 of 2021, and we created Connect SPRING to meet this need.”

Connect SPRING will open with the keynote 2020 in the Rearview Mirror by Joe Derochowski, home industry advisor at The NPD Group, offering a look at how the year ended for the housewares industry, including a recap of category, channel, and holiday-specific outcomes. Other keynotes include:
– The New Normal: Minding What Matters by Tom Mirabile, principal, and co-founder, Springboard Futures. Shifting realities, needs, and expectations are transforming how consumers define value as they search for stability and security. For retailers, suppliers and service provide, consumer insight will be the most essential component of successful strategies in product development, assortment planning, sales and service initiatives, and even supply chain management.
– Lessons from Across Industries featuring a panel of NPD Group industry advisors: Steve Baker, technology; Joe Derochowski, home; Larissa Jensen, beauty; David Portalatin, food; and Matt Powell sports. While the Home + Housewares industry saw record growth from the pandemic, many other industries faced significant headwinds. Some adapted and thrived/survived; others continued to fight for their ongoing viability. What lessons can the housewares industry learn from those who had to think differently in order to survive?
– Pantone Colorwatch by Lee Eiseman, executive director, Pantone Color Institute. How has the pandemic affected consumers’ desire for color in their homes and lifestyles?

Education, Product Demonstrations, Consumer Trends

Education sessions will focus on industry and consumer issues affecting retailers and suppliers. Topics

– The Post-COVID Consumer. Learn which consumer needs were established during the pandemic will stay and which may be fleeting. How will consumers navigate a world where contagious diseases are disruptive rather than irritating? And what will be important to consumers in their purchase decisions in the near term?
– Diversity and Inclusion. This is an important topic, but it can be difficult to find objective, unbiased resources that will assist you in creating a program that is right for your company and not dictated by someone else’s agenda. Receive a data-driven, agnostic toolkit to develop the D&I program that is right for your organization.
– Post-COVID Retailing. A look at the future of retailing once the pandemic has passed. Will online shopping continue and where will it peak? What is the role and future for Brick & Mortar retailing? What innovations were created during the pandemic and which will stick?
– Retail Renaissance: Driving Sales Through Experience. Whether you are a retailer or product supplier, and selling virtual or physical, refocusing on the creative elements of shopper engagement— assortments, displays, nonverbal interaction—is a new reality.
– Material Matters. Manufacturers, brands, and retailers are redirecting strategic initiatives as new environmental, social, and lifestyle realities reveal crucial new priorities. Sustainability, responsibility, and the consumer experience are being realized through the use of innovative materials in products.

What is the now, new and next in materials?

– The Future of Smart in the Home. The housewares industry has flirted with Smart in the home for a few years with varying degrees of success. Given the dramatic changes in consumer needs and retailing during the pandemic, Smart technology is ripe for housewares, but it needs the integration of the food, technology, and housewares industries working together to solve new consumer needs.
– Harvest, Halloween & Holiday 2021-22. For more than a year, consumers have been unable to gather and celebrate with loves ones. As opportunities for in-person experiences return in 2021, emotions will run high, increasing consumer interest and engagement. Assortments that speak to these powerful emotions will win big.
– Wrap It Up: Big Takeaways from the Event. Recap and discussion of various points raised from the sessions over the last two weeks with an eye toward what is most immediate and actionable. Each day’s schedule will also include virtual product demonstrations showcasing new and innovative products that address specific consumer-oriented themes. These one-hour sessions will each feature eight companies and their product(s) related to a different theme, including:
– At-Home Health and Wellness—products that promote at-home physical and mental well-being.
– Cleanliness—products help make consumers feel confident that they are eliminating (or at least minimizing) dirt, germs, etc. from their home and protecting themselves and their loved ones.
– Outdoor Living – products that encourage and facilitate spending time outdoors.
– Creative Cooking—products that turn cooking into a fun activity rather than just something that has to
get done.
– Boredom Busters—products that help people stay entertained and maybe teach new skills.
– Smart Home—products that facilitate in-home connectivity.
– Home Improvement—products that contribute to and elevate a renovated or re-imagined space.
– Holiday/Seasonal—products that speak to and are meant to be used to celebrate a specific season or

Connect SPRING will also include a series on the trends examined in the 2021 IHA Market Watch report. The report’s authors, Joe Derochowski of NPD, Tom Mirabile of Springboard Futures, and Leana Salamah, IHA’s vice president, marketing, will provide an overview of four key consumer trends to consider the next year and present products that fulfill those needs. The trends and corresponding topics are:

– Space—The pandemic has created an explosion in remote working and learning, which creates space challenges beyond just the size of consumers’ homes. Transforming space is now as critical as saving space.

– Comfort—Consumers miss their friends and family, and for the first time in over a decade are eating carbs and sweets again because they make them feel full and content. Coziness, robust cooking and finding new ways to connect with loved ones are all top of mind.

– Time—Since the onset of the pandemic, “time” as a trend means not only adding convenience or eliminating chores but also providing meaningful ways for consumers to spend the excess time they now have on their hands. Feeling productive, engaging in new activities and fulfilling personal and family ambitions for learning and togetherness are top of mind.

– Safety + Security—A global pandemic and civil unrest have contributed to heightened consumer anxiety. It is critical consumers feel protected in their homes and when they venture out, they are acutely aware of the risks that being in public present. Both home security and personal safety are at a premium.

There is no charge to home + housewares professionals to register for Connect SPRING, and attendees may sign up for all or individual sessions based on their schedule and areas of interest. For more information or to register, go to

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