I’m certain the following statement is an exaggeration: There have been no new products in home and housewares the past year.
I’m also certain there have been new products, and many of them. What matters, though, is that I’ve heard some variation of the “no newness” refrain on a regular basis from retail buyers in recent months.
In a market where perception can outduel reality for market share, such a generalization can’t be ignored.
The seeds of such perception were planted by the reality of a pandemic that has fed a prolonged transactional approach to sales that began by rewarding suppliers could rapidly fulfill surging demand for whatever they had on hand; then discouraged abundant new product introductions into an over-capacity, over-priced supply chain.
So before crying foul when someone claims there were no new products, step back and understand that to mean the pandemic marketplace has been able to thrive without the typical bounty of introductions that in most years would be more vital to the industry’s success.
Core product has continued to evolve the past year, and there have been myriad examples of more comprehensive innovation released into the market. That said, the appetite among retailers for a higher rate of “newness,” however that is defined, signals home and housewares retailing is priming for a return to a competitive dynamic requiring sharper points of product differentiation.
That retailers are on the lookout for more genuinely new products in 2022 is confirmed by the enthusiastic anticipation I hear for a full-scale return to trade shows early next year. Replenishing core inventory remains a priority. However, discovering difference-making introductions that can help curate difference-making assortments will re-emerge as the primary objective for many buyers.
That is the cue for home and housewares suppliers to deliver the goods, so to speak, in giving the retailers what they want and need. It is also a call for retailers to collaborate and cooperate with suppliers to help get what could be a powerful surge of new products in 2022 to consumers.
It’s a huge opportunity to change perception — and to create a rewarding new reality.
That’s no exaggeration. Of that I’m certain.