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NHS product discovery

NHS 2023 Day 1: Product Discovery Abounds

The 2023 National Hardware Show (NHS) opened to a bustling crowd of retailers, vendors and industry players from across the globe, offering plentiful opportunities for product discovery. 

In HABITAT, attendees were introduced to products that highlight the ideas and evolving lifestyles of today’s consumers. This year’s HABITAT theme focused on five trends in the Emotion Economy, which became a major driver of innovation and spending over the last two years. The themes included Show You Care, which featured products designed to make life at home easier; Happy Place included products that create happiness at home and World of Wonder had products that make the outdoors a part of our daily lives. Mind Your Mind highlighted products designed to encourage investment in oneself and Save to Save showed off products that safeguard our resources and financial security.

HABITAT Next spotlighted up-and-coming vendors with innovative products and ideas. Jeff Waggoner, founder and owner of Ratchet Rangler, says he was excited to be a part of his first NHS

“We are really happy to be here sharing our product,” he says. “We’ve had great responses so far to the products and the Show has been a great place to share with potential customers.” 

Attendees browsed the various product neighborhoods, which included vendors showcasing everything from hardware to grills. This year, over 60% of the vendors on the Show floor are new to NHS, giving attendees plenty of opportunities to scope out new items. 

For attendees searching for vendors manufacturing and offering services in the U.S., the Made in the USA Exhibitor Trail provides an easy way to meet with these companies. Throughout the Show floor, Made in the USA vendors share not just their products and services, but their stories with attendees. These vendors offer domestic products and services that reflect high labor standards, top quality manufacturing and safer products that keep Americans working.

Brenda Gravitt, manager of Village Do it Best Hardware in Berrien Springs, Michigan, visited NHS for the first time.

“I’m keeping an eye out for products we don’t currently carry in the store that could be a good fit for our customers,” she says. “The Show has been great to find those new and upcoming items we didn’t know existed.”

Engaging Education 

Throughout the day, the United Inventors Association (UIA) stage was buzzing with educational seminars and product pitch panels where inventors show off their unique products. Seminars covered a variety of topics, including securing product launch funding, licensing, social media marketing, product pitches and patents.

Following the theme of product discovery, the North American Hardware and Paint Association (NHPA) kicked off the first ever Foundations of Merchandising Management Live! event, exclusively sponsored by and held at NHS this morning. Designed to train new and experienced staff responsible for managing merchandising at their operations, the program features merchandising and assortment best practices and strategies—and combines classroom learning from industry experts and hands-on learning on the Show floor.

Attendees benefitted from expert-led course sessions, breakout workshop sessions and networking opportunities with other retailers, as well as ROI-driven follow-up assignments to take back to their stores and put program lessons into practice.

On the Innovation Stage, keynote speaker Grant Farnsworth, President of the Farnsworth Group, covered understanding today’s professional and DIY customers in an ever-changing market. 

While product availability continues to be a major challenge, 2023 is seeing pricing become the No. 1 concern for both professionals and DIYers, Farnsworth says. 

“Pricing challenges are the new availability and supply challenges of 2023. Because of these pricing issues, pros and DIYers are going both online and in the store to research products and prices and find the best deals,” he says. “Because of this, retailers need to be sure their online presence is robust. They also need to offer good-better-best concepts to give customers a variety of choices and product mix.”

About Lindsey Thompson

Lindsey joined the NHPA staff in 2021 as an associate editor for Hardware Retailing magazine. A native of Ohio, Lindsey earned a B.S. in journalism and minors in business and sociology from Ohio University. She loves spending time with her husband, two kids, two cats and one dog, as well as doing DIY projects around the house, going to concerts, boating and cheering on the Cleveland Indians.

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