Change is a complicated concept in business.
The sudden, radical change pressed upon home and housewares practitioners over the past three years certainly proved that. It confirmed in the process that change remains inevitable and necessary for meaningful progress while reinforcing the need in today’s marketplace of fast-rising disruptive influences to be on constant alert to pivot.
It requires balancing the self-controlled prudence of resisting change for the sake of change with the enterprising commitment to well-informed, sharply timed adoption of a new, potentially better way.
With that, “better late than never” is antiquated thinking in an unforgivingly accelerated business climate that can punish organizations for being even a nano-second late on the next big thing. Being a half-stride too early also can result in hazardous exposure.
Change — the right change at the right time — is complicated.
From the reaction of home and housewares suppliers and retailers to this week’s announcement that The Inspired Home Show 2024 will be concentrated to three days in two exhibit halls at Chicago’s McCormick Place, the International Housewares Association got such a major change just right.
Here are some key details:
- The Inspired Home Show in 2024 will move from a four-day pattern adopted in 2012 to three full days, starting Sunday, March 17, and ending Tuesday, March 19. (The latest generation of retail buyers will be pleased to get part of the weekend back).
- The entire Show will take place in the directly adjacent McCormick North and South halls, with appliance exhibitors moving from their longtime homes across the covered walkway in McCormick Lakeside Center to share McCormick North in an even split with storage and cleaning product exhibitors. McCormick South, a short stroll across a shared concourse from McCormick North, will continue as the Show’s kitchenware, tabletop and décor hub, to be joined by travel gear in 2024 as part of the IHA partnership with the Travel Goods Association that kicked off during the March 2023 show in McCormick North.
- The International Sourcing Expo, reserved for exhibitors without branded products and U.S. distribution, will return in March 2024 to the lower level of McCormick North, a location previously occupied by that group of exhibitors in 2019.
Some exhibitors and buyers might have wished IHA would have put some or all of the pieces of this plan in motion for the recent 2023 Show. But, really, the Show’s March 2022 return after a two-year pandemic hiatus was a hard-to-predict restarting point and not a fair barometer of what would be needed to best serve exhibitors and attendees going forward. IHA — and the whole of the home and housewares business — needed to wait for what would turn out to be a vastly expanded March 2023 Show (1,600-plus exhibitors vs. 900-plus in 2022) to properly gauge exhibitor and retail attendee dynamics of the Show’s rebuild that would help inform the changes announced this week.
IHA did its due diligence — surveying exhibitors and retailers after this year’s March Show about their preferences for show duration, exhibit layout, location, etc.— before proposing the changes and presenting them to the IHA board, which unanimously approved the moves.
The clear consensus: The concentrated schedule and layout of The Inspired Home 2024 can be more efficient and productive for all participants.
It’s noteworthy that some housewares industry leaders and retailers, independent retailers in particular, who lobbied adamantly and successfully for the Show’s expansion to four days more than a decade ago are among those most enthusiastic about the return to a three-day pattern next March.
This business climate requires and rewards increased efficiency and productivity in all aspects of operation, including attending a major trade show for high-level meetings and finding new products, companies, trends and solutions.
Never has it been more evident that change remains a necessary constant in business. It’s complicated. But this is the right change at the right time for the home and housewares business.