Home What We Learned at The Inspired Home Show
March 7, 2023

What We Learned at The Inspired Home Show

Extensive follow-up from The Inspired Home Show 2023 is already beginning by suppliers, retailers and other allied businesses that attended the show.

So… What did we learn at this year’s show?

We learned the show came at an opportune time for an industry still grappling with what generally was a challenging 2022 that saw a confluence of declining post-pandemic demand and rising living costs that, by most consumer confidence measures, finds the wide swaths of the general public somewhat uneasy about their prospects. That has caused some uneasiness in the home and housewares industry about its near-term prospects. However, The Inspired Home Show offered a promising glimpse into what could be a productive back half as winners from the bounty of new products and programs presented at McCormick Place find their way to selling shelves and websites.

We learned retailers of all sizes and types from North America, Latin America and elsewhere abroad showed up in a shopping mood. Attending buyers, many of which lauded last year’s downsized return of The Inspired Home Show for its quality face-to-face time and new vendor-prospecting opportunity, thought the heightened volume of genuinely new product on display at this year’s much larger show was immediately evident across all categories. This show marked the first time in more than three years many customers had seen exhibitors’ product lines in person. And that still makes a difference.

We learned there is still a big appetite… to learn. Full-house crowds sat in on keynote presentations by the likes of Walmart’s Julie Barber and Justine Van Buren; Pantone Color Institute’s Lee Eiseman; and the IHA Market Watch team of IHA’s Leana Salamah, NPD’s Joe Derochowski and Springboard Futures’ Tom Mirabile. Education sessions in the Innovation Theater covered a range of pressing topics, such as the home products opportunity on TikTok; PFAS chemical regulations affecting housewares; the intersection of consumer food and beverage trends and housewares; inflation’s impact on housewares spending; leading-edge visual merchandising; export opportunities; and much more.

We learned this from year’s Global Innovation Award (gia) winners that inventive product development and inspirational retail theater in home and housewares are by no means lost arts.

We learned that housewares charity during the show was back in full force supporting breast cancer research and other cancer-fighting organizations. The return of the Housewares Charity Foundation gala honored Select Brands’ William Endres, Bloomingdale’s Daniel Leppo and The Home Edit’s Clea Shearer.

We learned the home and housewares industry remains fundamentally resilient, persistent against the most unpredictable turbulence to turn new ideas into new solutions — often evolutionary, sometimes revolutionary — to help retailers make the best choices for their customers and for their bottom lines.

The ultimate test of what we learned at the Inspired Home Show will be graded by whether or not 2023 goes down as a year during which the business reinforced its value and its reputation as a reliable retail growth driver.

We learned there is so much follow-up to be done to make that happen. Well, maybe we already knew that.

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