When I attended the National Hardware Show in Las Vegas recently I was hoping to find a good display of innovation along with solid mainline products. This was particularly important because my March visit to the International Housewares Show in Chicago was underwhelming when it came to innovation (see my comments here).
The Hardware Show delivered. I saw a range and vitality of innovation that I hadn’t seen at Housewares. The focus at Housewares seemed to be massive volumes of minimally interesting products available in a wide range of colors. The focus at Hardwares were innovations that were valuable to consumers (although I was sad to still see a few pink things from male companies hoping to “appeal to women”).
A few of the innovations I noted…
…There was the ubiquitous BluFixx man strolling the aisles to lead us to their booth (where we learned about their version of the new blue LED light curable products). In the photo that’s Atomic VP of Accounts Skye Weadick with BluFixx man at the show.
…It seemed like there was another Shark Tank funded product lurking around every corner.
…Somehow at Hardware, the IoT was integrated into products in ways that delivered more consumer value and made better sense.
…And did you see what’s happening with BBQs and smokers? In a soon to be published article I wrote that they need DRTV. With a tremendous array of newly revealed innovations (and great food), now is the time communicate!
All in all it was quite fun – and reflects why hardware retail is so vital right now. Stores need innovative products because they make the stores stronger. While we’re not seeing as many in housewares, they are certainly in hardware.
For retail, these products:
- Bring consumers into the store – consumers who haven’t shopped there before.
- Bring existing shoppers back to buy more.
- Increase the revenue per visit for the shoppers who seek them out.
And innovative products deliver for manufacturers. These products:
- Drive the sales of large volumes of product.
- Build channel strength by bringing benefits to the retailers.
- Establish long term vitality for their brand.
One thing was missing from all this innovation, though. Innovation success requires communication. Otherwise, it simply can’t drive the high return (in both sales and brand) that it should – and often can’t justify the investment creating the innovation. Here’s a post I wrote recently on the need for customers to enter the store looking for your innovation (link here). Manufacturers and retailers need to build advertising budgets into their innovation projects.
All-in-all, kudos to the hardware business and a successful turnout at this year’s show. Looking forward to Hardware Show 2017.
Copyright 2016 – Doug Garnett – All Rights Reserved