Sold-out Chicago housewares show focuses on smart home

The International Home + Housewares Show, held in Chicago from March 10 to March 13, was a ‘successful marketplace for the industry’, according to the organiser

The 2018 International Home + Housewares Show, held in Chicago from March to March 13, was sold out, with 2,244 exhibitors from 47 countries.

Phil Brandl, president and ceo of the International Housewares Association (IHA) which owns and operates the show, said: “We are very pleased with buyer attendance; 99% of the top 200 domestic retailers registered to attend, and international attendance was very close to last year’s record number.”

He added: “Senior-level attendance from both retailers and suppliers was particularly strong. Many of our veteran exhibitors expressed that it was their best show ever in terms of meetings with top executives from retailers – and in terms of the quality of those meetings. All in all, the 121th International Home + Housewares Show was a successful marketplace for the industry.”

This year saw a growing focus on smart and connected products, with the IHA Smart Home Pavilion expanded to 28 exhibitors displaying emerging technologies and the latest in smart and connected products, along with the addition of the Smart Talks stage and the Smart Bar, where attendees could network with colleagues.

The Smart Talks stage featured 30-minute sessions led by experts who discussed food trends, data security for businesses and consumers, and tracking capabilities of product packaging, along with innovators offering new retail models for reaching consumers and strategies for developing and managing data-driven connected products and their services. The sessions were live-streamed on IHA’s website and can be viewed at

New for 2018, the inaugural Trending Today Preview joined the New Exhibitor Preview on the first morning of the show, giving buyers and media an opportunity to see 150 exhibitors before the show floor opened at 10am.

These events attracted nearly 700 buyer and media attendees. The Trending Today Preview spotlighted ‘A Marketplace for Hydration’ and hosted 60 exhibitors of hydration and hydration-related products, while the New Exhibitor Preview featured more than 90 first-time exhibitors.

“Response from the buyers has been very positive about both pre-show events, and we anticipate attendance to continue growing, as more buyers want to begin their day earlier,” Phil said.

He noted that media attendance included a “significant increase in high-quality bloggers and social media influencers”. Show coverage included an in-studio segment on NBC’s ‘The Today Show’, internet media articles, home-focused YouTube channels, and live remotes by Chicago TV stations and QVC.

Other media attendees included ‘America’s Test Kitchen’, ‘Better Homes and Gardens’, ‘BRIDES’, CBS’ ‘The Talk’, ‘Chicago Tribune’, ‘Chicago Sun-Times’, ‘Good Housekeeping’, The, ‘O-The Oprah Magazine’, USA Today/ and Xinhua News Agency.

Phil predicted that the show generated a total of more than 375 million consumer impressions through broadcast, print and Internet coverage and social media communication.

The exhibition also included a series of educational sessions, including keynote presentations on colour and design trends by Lee Eiseman of the Pantone Color Institute; a panel discussion on the theme of the smart kitchen; an exploration of the retail renaissance by Tom Mirabile of Lifetime Brands; and a retail panel examining innovation and marketing with consumer needs led by Maureen Azzato and Allison Zisko of US trade magazine ‘HFN’.

Plus, the Innovation Theater offered 21 sessions on the smart home and connected products, age and gender marketing, and international retail and consumer lifestyle trends. Audio and video recordings of the sessions are available at

A full report on the Chicago show will appear in the May issue of Housewares Magazine. To register to receive copies of Housewares Magazine, please click on

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