blog: news + information from “the home authority”

2015 International Home + Housewares Show Almost Sold Out

October 23rd, 2014

With less than five months to go before opening day, the 2015 International Home + Housewares Show is over 90 percent sold out, according to the International Housewares Association, the Show’s owner and operator. The Show begins at 10 a.m. on Saturday, March 7 and closes at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, March 10.   A Power Hour from 5:30-6:30 p.m. on Saturday through Mondayoffers exhibitors and buyers an opportunity to extend their meetings for an additional hour after the 5:30 Show close.   Appointments for Power Hour are encouraged.

“We are very pleased with the response from exhibitors and expect to be completely sold out very soon,” said Phil Brandl, IHA president & CEO. “We are also encouraged by the return of several familiar companies who are exhibiting after a brief absence.”

The Show will host more than 2,100 exhibitors from around the world, including 400 new companies.   A sampling of first-time companies as well as some well-known suppliers returning after an absence includes:

  • Dine + Design Expo:   Beeline Creative, Carmie’s Kitchen, Cosmoplast, Primitives by Kathy, Rigamonti Pietro & Figli s.r.l., Sambonet, Shiraleah, Stone Candles and Terre Etoilee.
  • Discover Design:  Black + Blum, Crow Canyon Home, Fiskar Brands, iittala, Neolid, New Soda and Poppin.
  • Wired + Well Expo:  Brita, Brookstone, Kenmore (floor care and small appliances), LauraStar, Maytag Vacuums, Smeg and Taurus.
  • Clean, Contain + Sustain Expo:  Addis Housewares, Ltd., Grund America LLC, Moda At Home, Inc., PetSafe, Primetime Petz, SimplyKleen™, Ultimate Shield and Wenko.

To view the entire Show lineup, buyers may visit and search Housewares Connect 365 to download a complete list of 2015 exhibitors as well as to view floor plans, product catalogs, new product photos and videos and complete company contact information for each exhibitor.

To register for a no-charge Show badge, visit


About International Housewares Association

The International Housewares Association is the 76-year-old voice of the housewares industry, which accounted for (US)$314.3 billion at retail worldwide in 2012. The not-for-profit, full-service association sponsors the world’s premier exposition of products for the home, the International Home + Housewares Show, and offers its 1,700 member companies a wide range of services, including industry and government advocacy, export assistance, State-of-the-Industry reports, point-of-sale and consumer panel data through Housewares MarketWatch, executive management peer groups, a unique Web-based community at and group buying discounts on business solutions services. 

IHA logo

New Online Resource “Inspired Home” Launches To Generate Housewares Excitement

October 16th, 2014

Compelling Articles, Videos, DIY Tips, Home Ideas and More Found at

As savvy consumers increasingly turn to the web to select kitchen utensils, organization tools, cookware pieces, home décor and more to “make their house a home,” a new online resource launches to deliver fresh content on emerging home trends and housewares products. delivers compelling information and ideas across a broad spectrum of home lifestyle categories, enabling consumers to connect directly with brands and companies that can meet their housewares needs.

Visitors to – and corresponding platforms on FacebookPinterestTwitter and YouTube – will find beautiful imagery, DIY tips, home ideas, seasonal recipes and information about new products from industry experts, bloggers and media personalities across variety of topics: cooking and baking, dining, entertaining, home organization, cleaning, personal care and wellness, and more.

“We designed Inspired Home to be an informative, fun online resource by creating it in a highly visual, editorial style, which we know consumers seek out when looking for home inspiration,” said Phil Brandl, president/CEO of the International Housewares Association, the organization powering

Research shows that consumers head to the web when seeking information about housewares products and making purchasing decisions. Women, in particular, are more likely to engage with media that seamlessly integrates into and improves their day-to-day lives, and millennials are 247 percent more likely to be influenced by blogs or social networking sites than other age groups (JLL Research).

Connecting IHA Members with Consumers

Inspired Home marks the first foray into business-to-consumer marketing for the International Housewares Association (IHA), the 76-year-old voice of the housewares industry. Until now, the IHA focused its efforts on serving as a business-to-business trade organization connecting companies and brands to retailers in an effort to facilitate global commerce, primarily through its annual International Home + Housewares Show.

IHA launches Inspired Home with the goal of educating consumers about their housewares options and showcasing its 1,600 members’ products. The organization represents some of the most well-known brands in the housewares industry, such as KitchenAid, Hamilton Beach, OXO, simplehuman, Keurig, Conair, Pyrex and many more. In addition to the new website, Inspired Home spans IHA’s social media channels, public relations efforts and strategic partnerships.

Products of IHA member brands and companies will be woven throughout Inspired Home’s platforms, in order to organically build relationships with consumers, elevate the housewares industry overall and ultimately drive sales. In addition to inclusion in featured content, each exhibiting IHA member company will have its own profile page on, highlighting up to 50 product images for consumers to easily access, along with links to the member’s website and social media platforms.

“We want to be influential in the consumer’s path to purchase,” says Derek Miller, IHA’s vice president, global marketing. “Through Inspired Home, our members will be able to share new products and innovations with consumers throughout the year, driving awareness of what they have to offer. We are extremely excited about this new consumer awareness initiative and the visibility it will provide for our members.”

Delivering Content Consumers Can Use was designed to appeal to those who seek out lifestyle imagery and content for home and housewares inspiration. As such, visitors to the Inspired Home platforms will find eye-catching photography, informative slideshows and concise tip lists to pique their interest and introduce them to products.

Content will be offered in a “news you can use” format, presented from the perspective of a multitude of trusted experts. The Inspired Home content team includes leading color forecaster Pantone, high-profile digital influencers and housewares industry authorities, such as Frank Fontana, chief contributing editor to Inspired Home, who’s best known as an HGTV interior designer, best-selling author and radio personality.

“When connecting with audiences, it’s so important to share information that they can immediately put into practice in their daily lives,” said Fontana, who welcomes visitors to in a video on the site’s homepage and who will contribute monthly content to the site. “That is exactly what Inspired Home does, and we’re helping consumers take even greater command of their purchase power.”

About International Housewares Association

The International Housewares Association is the 76-year-old voice of the housewares industry, which accounted for (US) $314.3 billion at retail worldwide in 2012. The not-for-profit, full-service association sponsors the world’s premier exposition of products for the home, the International Home + Housewares Show, and offers its 1,600 member companies a wide range of services, including industry and government advocacy, export assistance, State-of-the-Industry reports, point-of-sale and consumer panel data through Housewares MarketWatch, executive management peer groups, a unique Web-based community at and group buying discounts on business solutions services. 

Inspired Home Logo (resize)

2014 CHESS Conference Highlights: Ken Harris

October 15th, 2014

Day Two: Session Four

The New Retail Landscape: Reaching the Omni-Channel Shopper

Ken Harris, Managing Partner, Cadent Consulting Group

As manufacturers and conventional retailers turn their attention and resources toward digital commerce, a critical question needs to be asked: What is the best path for your company if 95-99% of your business is through conventional channels? Companies should focus on digital and online pursuits as part of an overall strategy.

ken harrisKen Harris explored how to balance new approaches to conventional channels without losing the edge on digital initiatives. He described case studies of strategies and tactics used by successful consumer products companies in a variety of relevant industries including housewares.

As the final speaker of CHESS, Harris deftly built upon two days packed with content. He summarized information provided earlier on the complexities of social media and offered action points for the audience to apply once they returned home. He recalled how Eric Greitens invited people to shift their course by 2% to change their lives and reminded us that you don’t have to be experts on day one—the first steps and decisions each day build strength. For example, IHA shifted course to speak directly to consumers by launching an interactive website where everyone present could participate and benefit by leveraging IHA and their brands and products.

Technology available to us today enables our access to consumers more than ever before. We are connected all the time and carve out time to unplug and turn off. Digital marketing and strategy are at work 24/7. Most brick and mortar companies use traditional modes of communication outbound from their central core: media, websites, mobile apps, email marketing and TV. We’ve heard that we need to create a unified message, yet how do you create one message that differs for each consumer we touch?

Omni-channel marketing is a customer-driven relationship with multiple, ubiquitous and interrelated modes of communication—one channel with many touch points. Content is individualized, responses are measured, unit and dollar velocity performances are enhanced by visitor clicks, coupons and discounts and Facebook shares. The formerly linear path to purchase is now a circular one with many detours to build brand loyalty and advocacy.

Ken Harris final program

Harris described examples of omni-channel marketing such as unexpected personal care products placed in apparel displays to align brands and experiences and a mother using her phone, home computer and tablet over several days to shop for children’s shoes. Most consumers now “showroom” and “webroom,” and have preferred channels for different occasions. On average customers engage with 11.4 pieces of information before purchasing. What customers see in one channel informs what they buy in another, so investing in one sees ROI in other channels.

Business is much more complex today than it was 20 years ago. One example of a housewares brand whose omni-channel marketing illustrates many creative directions is a tableware company that created a visual tabletop on its website, which also offers entertaining tips, so consumers could select products to set a beautiful table and share with their friends.

Big data is overwhelming; we need smaller data with big answers. In order to keep up with consumer expectations, marketers must move from multi-channel to omni-channel. Assess where your business is today and choose the most rewarding direction. Assess online and bricks and mortar equally, with no prejudice. The online route isn’t easy and you will need to fortify your organization just as you would to build more bricks and mortar stores.

A lively conversation followed with audience questions about predictions and forecasts to take the group through the coming year.

The next CHESS conference will take place at the same Loews Chicago O’Hare hotel and during the same week. Plan now to attend the 2015 CHESS on October 6 and 7.

2014 CHESS Conference Highlights: Linda Graebner, Katie Fitzgerald, Ted Koenig, Bruce Lubin, and Jon Lucas

October 15th, 2014

Day Two: Session Three

So You Don’t Want to Sell Your Business…How Do You Get the Capital to Grow It?

Moderated by Linda Graebner, Executive Chairman, Chef’n Corporation

Panelists: Katie Fitzgerald, CircleUp Network, Inc.; Ted Koenig, Monroe Capital LLC;

Bruce Lubin, The Private Bank and Jon Lucas, President, CIT

Last year’s panel suggested “Everyone Should Sell Their Business At Least Once” and presented tricks of a successful sale. But now you’ve decided to grow the one you have instead. This diverse panel of experts addressed the critical elements of a business growth plan: the elements of a business strategy that attracts investors and several different approaches to consider for financing your plan. Panelists identified ways to distinguish your company and its opportunities to achieve your plans.

Linda Graebner and finance panel

Graebner began by summarizing the results of a survey of members seeking capital advice. She then invited the panel to outline their services and offer guidance.

Bruce Lubin best

Lubin: Today the financial climate is in your favor—there is no better time to get financing. Get your business plan in order, be prepared andbe open. Have a relationship with your banker to get to know them when you don’t need anything and so that you can trust them. When you do need something you want the person to understand your business.

Lucas: Focus on what you offer and what sets you apart. CIT specializes in the consumer product industry. We focus on $5-100 million companies that sell into retail distribution. We have clients in the audience. We have a deep understanding of your business and understand your customers. We know your customer base and the games they play. So when you hit bumps in the road, we can provide financing to help you to get to next stage.

Koenig: At Monroe Capital we are temporary partners; we provide capital and are not a bank. We can be flexible and can partner with banks to assist with a piece of the capital structure. We work with middle market companies starting at $3 million EBITDA. Our loans are based on cash flow and enterprise value, not accounts receivable or value of equipment, real estate or personal net worth. We provide capital so you can do the deal you want to do: acquisitions or intra-generational transfers, as when family members sell to one another.


Fitzgerald: CircleUp is a different platform for raising capital. Existing capital markets are inefficient for companies that don’t fit intotraditional boxes. We believe investor diversification should include more than just public market investing. We focus on U.S. consumer products companies that typically have more than $1 million in revenue for the current fiscal year. Our companies have a tangible product or retail outlet that you can touch, taste, use or visit. We build a community of investors who back a company individually and collectively and can help a company grow beyond just the financial contribution. Online communication allows entrepreneurs to connect with people who know your business and people beyond your network or who your banker knows. Online documentation and diligence means more transparency and we curate companies that make it onto our platform.

Graebner: What should companies do before contacting you?

Lubin: Some companies come unprepared and don’t know what they are looking for and what they have to offer. Someone who comes to see me has to be succinct and have the information I need, like three years of financial statements. I want to hear the story realistically to see if I can satisfy your needs. My market starts at $15 million of revenue. Be prepared, succinct and open. For a company with less than $50 million in sales, I find that a smart entrepreneur hires a good financial officer and accountant. If you want to grow, it’s critical to get a CFO. It’s your business to know what sells, but a financial officer understands our language and can explain your cash flow and present your business plan effectively. We invest in the business plan and we need to understand our commitment.

Koenig: You know your sales and customer service, sourcing, importing, manufacturing. But how reliable is your earnings stream? Can the business function without you? The biggest challenge for company leaders is to plan for your own transition while you are still the most important person in your business. Lenders won’t put debt into something if only one person contributes to value or if a company has one major customer with 40-60% of customer base; that’s a concentration of risk. You don’t want to be in that spot. We look at the management team and want to make sure we have a solid business with an alignment of interests.

Fitzgerald: Who doesn’t make the cut for financing? Companies that come too late, when in dire need. That’s never a good start. Plan for cash flows in advance. It can take several months for investor conversations to raise capital. A common mistake is evaluation: an entrepreneur thinks his business is worth $100 million but isn’t there yet. You raise capital for where the business is today. Investors are taking on risk, so market evaluation is important. Avoid tying yourself up with one or few investors too early, especially at early stage, because that investor might drop out. Early stage exclusivity is not required.

The panel then took questions from the audience on topics such as EBITA, evaluations, capital structures, personal guarantees and varying types of risks and ESOPs.

Their final tips:

Fitzgerald: There is a lot of capital available and many options for entrepreneurs. Explore those and don’t limit yourself and find the right partner.

Lubin: Loans are repaid by people. Get to know your banker or finance source.

Lucas: Diversify your product lines and customer mix.

Koenig: Think long term. Determine what is your core business and then decisions will fall into place.

To learn more about the panelists, see

2014 CHESS Conference Highlights: Katy Lynch, Oren Katzeff, and Kathleen Henson

October 15th, 2014

Day Two: Session Two

SOCIAL MEDIA: Influencing the Consumer Path to Purchase

Katy Lynch, SocialKaty/Manifest Digital

Engaging the Consumer through Social Media Marketing

Katy LynchYou’ve heard the term “social media marketing” a million times. Your business probably already uses Twitter and Facebook. But how do you really use these sites, as well as other outlets, to their full potential? How do you engage with your target audience to create deep, meaningful relationships? This advanced, high-level session explored how.

Katy Lynch, founder of Social Katy (recently acquired by Manifest Digital) outlined the complex, layered and dynamic social media landscape. She posed the key question: How does consumer engagement affect purchases? Consumers who engage with a brand on a daily basis are twice as likely to make a purchase as someone who engages monthly. Facebook and Twitter fans are most likely to recommend brands to people in their network and are more likely to purchase.

So how to engage these consumers?

  • Understand your audience, what their interests are and what they respond to.
  • Plan a strategy to build, grow and engage your community.
  • Nurture lead user relationships, identify potential brand ambassadors and evoke a vocal response.
  • Engage your community to love your brand.
  • Direct your community to filter emotional response into desired action.
  • Analyze the alignment between your current audience and what it should be.

Katy Lynch Social Media

Lynch then explained the many commerce, publishing, sharing and networking channels along with the tracking services available. She peppered her commentary with dizzying statistics on usage and characteristics of the most popular platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+ and LinkedIn, along with lesser known specialty channels related to cooking, home maintenance/DIY and home décor.

She also educated the audience on the financial commitment required and rewards, including ad rates and sponsored content as well as subscription services for analytics services. She summarized how to identify and spread your message with influencers in your industry (celebrities, bloggers, experts and consumers) and explained how her agency conceived campaigns that created product or brand personalities/identities and user experiences that generate important data. Gathering and analyzing this data allows companies to measure their channel performance, their brand’s health and competitor positions and to forecast consumer behavior by specific demographics. Data analysis for social media traffic delivers much more detailed information on consumer impressions than traditional media can do, and makes ROI calculations much more meaningful.

Oren Katzeff, Tastemade

Reaching the Consumer through YouTube

Oren KatzeffWho are the digital influencers of today? They are the Tastemakers who have built a sizable viewership through prevalent content that reaches engaged consumers. Understanding how to leverage these creators and their organic social relationships with their audience will allow you to connect consumers to your products.

Tastemade is a digital global food network that connects the world through 400 food channels. A generation ago the cable industry launched category-defining brands in food and lifestyle and Tastemade believes the same opportunity exists for today’s global, digital and mobile platforms. Tastemade features ordinary people who are the stars of tomorrow with a network that includes 400 influential video creators, each with its own fan base and following. Katzeff said the key is to understand your brand message, create stories and weave the message into an episodic series with positive sentiment. Their audience doesn’t watch TV or commercials and understands this way to integrate brands into stories.

Oren Katzeff 1

Each month, six billion hours are watched on YouTube. One hundred hours of video are uploaded each month and 40% of viewers watch on mobile devices. Most videos are just a few minutes long. Using examples sponsored by well-known food and beverage brands such as Kraft Philadelphia Cream Cheese and Grey Goose Vodka, Katzeff showed short episodes that told fun, bite-sized stories that integrated recipes or other information and did not look like advertising. Viewers shared these clips on Facebook and other social platforms to multiply the viewership exponentially.

Three Tips for Developing Video Content for Social Platforms

  1. Aim for creative quality. It’s hard to develop engaging content, but work with a partner who can help you create and promote your story.
  2. Make sure you fully understand the power of talent and their social platforms. When leveraged properly, they can be a huge asset. There is a lot of young talent out there. Learn about what platforms they roam in.
  3. Embrace technology. Consumers have never been closer to the content creation process than they are today.

The Tastemade app makes it much easier. Your audience wants to be involved in your message. Figure out how to deliver that to them. Take it step by step and ask the right questions to plan.

Kathleen Henson, Henson Consulting

Developing a Consumer Marketing Strategy—What IHA is Doing to Support the Housewares Industry

kathleen hensonAs consumers are increasingly using social media and seeking out useful content online, it’s vitally important for companies to pay attention to this important shift in behavior and to identify ways to align their marketing efforts. Now is the perfect time for IHA to engage and interact with consumers in exciting new ways to influence their housewares purchases. Kathleen Henson, who leads IHA’s social media public relations agency, discussed the creation of Inspired Home, a new industry-led consumer engagement strategy that will drive product visibility, industry credibility and, ultimately, sales for IHA members.

Public relations is not advertising, but earned media. Public relations organizes media relations, strategic partnerships, events, branding and design, celebrities, social and digital reach, influencer engagement and content creation. PR encourages news outlets and influencers to talk about your products with editorial coverage that is not paid. PR builds credibility, generates tension and buzz. Campaigns dispense relevant and accurate information.

Fontana web shot and podium

Working with IHA, Henson Consulting created Inspired Home to tell the story of why consumers should turn to IHA for information on products and services. Beginning with the website,, which launches Oct. 16, IHA’s B2C communication effort increases consumer awareness of members’ products and the innovations that bring so much value to consumers’ lives. Henson said the goal is to establish IHA as THE resource for consumers to find the information they need to make informed choices.

The task is based on a four- part strategy:

  • Digital resources for consumers
  • Deliver engaging and inspirational content to envelope the user in information
  • Partner with the best writers, bloggers and videographers
  • Create buzz via traditional social media

Much like a magazine, Inspired Home plans its editorial calendar months in advance, with opportunities for IHA members to promote their brands. Contributors will write about home organization, entertaining, cooking and baking. Videos and slideshows will provide seasonal interest. All features and articles will include members’ products. Inspired Home will be searchable by company and product and will offer information on where to purchase products.

Social Media panel

Learn more about IHA partners Katy Lynch, Oren Katzeff and Kathleen Henson here:

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