In the world of Housewares, March Madness is about more than basketball. It’s about the countdown to Chicago. The race against time that has as much to do with product samples and press booth appointments as it does about dinner reservations and making sure your comfortable shoes are ready for prime time.

As a member of the “been to more shows than I’ll admit to” club, I still find the International Home + Housewares Show (IH+HS) both energizing and exhausting. Seeing the press, our clients, colleagues, and of course, the IHA pressroom team, is something I look forward to every year.

This year’s show feels a little different though. Not the part about the people, but the conversations leading up to the show -changes in retail, print media, millennials, smart home technology.

Familiar topics, yet some of these are now turning into first-time venues, like the IHA Smart Home Pavilion, showcasing connected and smart product exhibitors; and Experience Day for college students, a pilot program focused on cultivating future talent in the industry.

This speaks volumes about the evolution of the housewares industry and the growing list of factors that are driving change. With new business models impacting the way everyone is looking at the business, it all circles back to one of the things I love most about the housewares show- the conversations. Whether it’s sharing recommendations on vendors, product ideas or restaurants, there’s a lot to talk about. Face time is golden.

I look forward to yet another housewares show in Chicago. Let the madness begin!

Rachel Litner, Chief Strategy Officer at lotus823, is attending IH+HS with a new company home this year. She recently sold her culinary and home PR firm (RLA) to lotus823 to provide a deeper level of expertise in the digital, social and SEO space, as well as in key lifestyle markets, such as consumer electronics, technology, and health and wellness. RLA’s clients and team members are part of the newly combined integrated marketing agency.


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