House & Home

While most of us, myself included, were scurrying to organize our trips to WQA Aquatech USA 2011 in San Antonio last month, I received an invitation to attend the International Home & Housewares Show, sponsored by the International Housewares Assn. Although it was located in nearby Chicago, my schedule was full and I couldn’t attend. But as I scanned the show’s website, I saw that it was expected to draw 60,000 attendees and 2,000 exhibitors. Not bad!

When you think of housewares, what comes to mind? Perhaps blenders, Tupperware, vacuum cleaners and tea kettles? Me, too—but what about water? Once upon a time, the only water treatment product you might have been able to find in the housewares section of a department store might have been a filtration pitcher. Scrolling through the exhibitor list for this tradeshow, however, I realized that is no longer the case.

One of the show-within-a-show expos featured at this massive event is called “wired + well,” and along with household electrics, kitchen appliances and home health care products, you will also find air and water purifiers and filters. Products like water filtration bottles, home carbonation systems, coolers and dispensers are on display, from basic to high-end models. The show is highly focused on evolving consumer trends and showcasing the shiny gadgets and technologies that will soon be making appearances in homes not only across the U.S., but also the world. When you think of what the next must-have household item will be, you can now include a water treatment product on the list of contenders.

Consumers are becoming more aware of their need for water improvement and more educated about the wide range of products that exist to meet this need. Many of the products featured at this tradeshow seemed to target this highly aware audience that is willing to pay for the technology to effectively treat, and essentially customize, their water at home. Think of the variety of advanced features offered in coffeemakers today—your coffeemaker can practically serve as your alarm clock, waking you up with a pot already brewed. You can customize based on your preference for a strong or mild cup, and the Keurig single-serve machines, which allow you to insert a pod and hit “start,” have simplified the process even more.

I strongly suggest taking a look at this tradeshow and searching for others like it in your area. Think about creative ways you can diversify your business by incorporating one or more of these “household” products, either as incentives along with sales of more traditional water treatment products, or as a new product offering targeted to higher-end consumers. Especially for dealers who take pride in their storefront displays, incorporating these products—even smaller items like new water bottles with built-in filtration—can take it up a notch.

As the definition of whole-house water treatment expands to include all of a family’s water improvement needs, being the first to present these new products to your customers can enable you to position yourself as an innovative solution provider for the whole household.

Rebecca Wilhelm is managing editor of Water Quality Products. She can be reached at 847/391-1007 or atrwilhelm@sgcmail.com

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