The International Housewares Association (IHA) has confirmed further details for its new virtual event, Connect SPRING, scheduled for March 16 to 26, 2021, with registrations now open.

There is no charge to home + housewares professionals to register for Connect SPRING, and attendees may sign up for all or individual sessions based on their schedule and areas of interest.

Connect SPRING will feature a range of keynote and education sessions, virtual product demonstrations, IHA Market Watch trends and Ask the Experts consultations.

According to IHA president, Derek Miller (pictured), the primary goal of Connect SPRING is to connect buyers and sellers around new product innovations, education and expertise, providing direction for the road ahead.

“By the time the August 2021 Show is held, it will have been 29 months since the industry has been able to convene in a meaningful way. All of the retailers and suppliers with whom we regularly communicate are telling us that there is an immediate need to connect and we created Connect SPRING to meet this need,” he said.

Connect SPRING will open with the keynote 2020 in the Rearview Mirror by NPD Group home industry advisor, Joe Derochowski, offering a look at how the year ended for the housewares industry, including a recap of category, channel and holiday specific outcomes.

Other keynotes include:

  • The Now Normal: Minding What Mattersby Springboard Futures principal and co-founder, Tom Mirabile.
  • Lessons from Across Industries featuring a panel of NPD Group industry advisors: Steve Baker (technology), Joe Derochowski (home), Larissa Jensen (beauty), David Portalatin, (food) and Matt Powell (sports).
  • Pantone Colorwatch by Pantone Color Institute executive director, Lee Eiseman.

Education sessions will focus on industry and consumer issues affecting retailers and suppliers with topics including:

  • The Post-COVID Consumer: Learn which consumer needs established during the pandemic will stay and which may be fleeting. What will be important to consumers in their purchase decisions in the near term?
  • Diversity and Inclusion: Receive a data-driven, agnostic toolkit to develop the D&I program that is right for individual organisation.
  • Post-COVID Retailing: Will online shopping continue and where will it peak? What is the role and future for bricks & mortar retailing? What innovations were created during the pandemic and which will stick?
  • Retail Renaissance: Driving Sales Through Experience: Refocusing on the creative elements of shopper engagement—assortments, displays, nonverbal interaction—is the new reality.
  • Material Matters: Sustainability, responsibility and the consumer experience are being realised through the use of innovative product materials. What is the now, new and next in materials?
  • The Future of Smart in the Home: Smart technology is ripe for housewares, but it needs the integration of the food, technology and housewares industries working together to solve new consumer needs.
  • Harvest, Halloween & Holiday 2021-22: As opportunities for in-person experiences return in 2021, emotions will run high, increasing consumer interest and engagement. Assortments that speak to these powerful emotions will win big.
  • Wrap It Up: Big Takeaways from the Event: Recap and discussion of various points raised from the sessions with an eye toward what is most immediate and actionable.

Each day’s schedule will also include virtual product demonstrations showcasing new and innovative products that address specific consumer-oriented themes. Each session will feature eight companies and their products related to a different theme, including At-Home Health and Wellness, Cleanliness, Outdoor Living, Creative Cooking, Boredom Busters, Smart Home, Home Improvement and Holiday/Seasonal.

Connect SPRING will also include a series on the trends examined in the 2021 IHA Market Watch report. Authors, Joe Derochowski of NPD, Tom Mirabile of Springboard Futures and Leana Salamah of IHA, will provide an overview of key consumer trends to consider the next year and present products that fulfill those needs.