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The big interview: Derek Miller, president and ceo, IHA

Ahead of the housewares industry convening at McCormick Place for The Inspired Home Show from 4-7 March,, sat down with president and ceo of the International Housewares Association, to find out what’s in store at the show.


What are your plans for the show this year? Are there any new features?

“The Inspired Home Show 2023 will be full of creativity and innovation with product suppliers introducing thousands of new products. Buyers who attend the Show have the opportunity to find new items that will bring competitive differentiation and customer loyalty to their stores.  To help highlight what’s new, innovative and exciting, The Inspired Home Show will have several opportunities for products discovery.

“The New Exhibitor Preview, a two-hour event at the opening the Show on Saturday, 4 March, will feature 90 new companies and brands that are releasing new products to the industry for the very first time. Running concurrently, the Trending Today Preview will focus on at home entertaining with over 60 exhibitors showcasing innovative products that consumers will purchase to create fun, vibrant and meaningful gatherings. At home entertaining is an increasingly important trend that is expected to grow with consumers opting to stay at home to save money (versus going to restaurants) with Covid-related concerns continuing to diminish.

“Each hall at The Inspired Home Show will have a New Product Showcase that will feature new-to-market introductions, and award-winning designs from leading exhibitors will be featured in the gia Global Innovation Awards Display. Located nearby, the Discover Design Display will feature innovations from all Show categories from the very popular Discover Design Expo. And, Smart Home will feature more than 30 companies that offer cutting-edge, “internet of things” innovations.

“Additionally, a new category will debut at the 2023 Show – Travel Goods + Luggage – in partnership with the Travel Goods Association. This collaborative effort will bring to the Show a large selection of suppliers that offer travel goods, luggage and accessories. Travel Goods + Luggage complements housewares while broadening the scope of products found at the Show to give buyers yet another reason to visit Chicago in March.”

Above: Buyers will have the opportunity to find new items to bring competitive differentiation.
Above: Buyers will have the opportunity to find new items to bring competitive differentiation.

You recently said that the top ten US retailers are already registered to attend – what is the key factor in driving housewares retailers to visit the show?

“Buyers have realised the importance of face-to-face meetings and are again supporting trade events. Although digital meetings can be effective, they cannot replace the value of meeting in-person, especially when products are involved. The tactile feel of a product’s size, weight, and texture cannot be truly sensed over the internet. Actually seeing a product within a display provides a greater sense of understanding.

“And attending a trade show allows the visitor to get a greater sense for the industry at large – seeing new and emerging companies for the first time and how they measure up to the leading companies from a given category can’t be replaced through an internet search.

Above: The feel of a product’s weight, size and texture cannot be truly sensed over the internet.
Above: The feel of a product’s weight, size and texture cannot be truly sensed over the internet.

There’s a focus on networking at the show – is this particularly important in a post-Covid world?

“No matter who you are, in-person meetings develop stronger relationships and foster greater levels of collaboration compared to simply meeting online. Humans need to be together for true understanding with body language and visual clues being incredibly important. As an industry, we are simply stronger when we come together, making a more efficient and meaningful shared experience.”

Above: In-person meetings develop stronger relationships, says Derek
Above: In-person meetings develop stronger relationships, says Derek

Education is another key focus throughout the show – how do you plan to educate and inspire visitors to the show? Why is this an important part of the event?

“Numerous educational sessions are being planned, which will include keynotes and speciality sessions that focus on current product trends and relevant business topics.

“Our keynotes will once again feature big picture overviews of critical trends in consumer needs, attitudes and buying plans. The State of the Industry session will focus on evolutions in consumer lifestyle and purchase habits; Tom Mirabile of Springboard Futures will update the industry on the “value equation” – what are the components of value as defined by the consumer – and Lee Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, will give us a look at the color palettes that will excite consumers in 2024.

“We also have several sessions that will explore more tactical areas of the industry and business. The head of home from TikTok will present about how to build a successful brand on their platform; Joe Derochowski of NPD Group will present about how the industry has performed over the last year and what’s ahead; and our team of gia Retail Experts will provide a global overview of progressive retail concepts and marketing/merchandising strategies.

“There will be something new to learn and discover every day that you are in attendance.”

Above: There will be something new to learn every day
Above: There will be something new to learn every day

What is the best thing about the Inspired Home Show?

“Although there are so many benefits, the best thing about attending The Inspired Home Show is being able to network and engage with the global home + housewares industry in one location over four days.”


What should be on each visitor’s ‘to do list’ at the show?

“In addition to walking the aisles and meeting with exhibitors, other ‘to dos’ include:

– Attending the New Exhibitor and Trending Today Previews, the Networking After Dark Reception, the Housewares Charity Foundation Gala with money raised benefiting cancer research, and the post-Show Retail Tour.

– Learning from one of the many Keynotes and Innovation Theater sessions.

– Visiting the gia Global Innovation Awards Displays, the New Products Showcases, and the Cooking Theatre.”

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