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Creature comforts and cocooning are in. This trend was reflected in an array of colorful, innovative products launched at this year's International Housewares Show. The products show that good design and insight into market needs are crucial for cracking or expanding into the large and growing housewares market.

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March 1, 2002 by Michael Legault

Retail marketing forecasters call it “mood elevation” — the desire to relieve stress or melancholy by purchasing something. With economic uncertainty in the air, those purchases are likely to be smaller-ticket items closely related to the home and hearth. According to this theory, while families with employed members may delay buying a new SUV this year, they’ll still have disposable income and look for a lift by purchasing new kitchen gadgets, dinnerware, home organization equipment and other items.

It is for this reason that the housewares market is often regarded as recession proof — people buy houseware products in good or bad times. And it is also for this reason that the housewares market must be regarded as an attractive one for processors.

How big is the housewares market? In 2000, U.S. housewares accounted for over US$65 billion in sales, most of it sold in large retail outlets such as Wal-Mart, Costco and Sears. For comparison, the total sales of manufactured automotive parts made in Canada in 1999 was $33 billion.

Clearly, either from the custom molding or captive molding side, this is a potentially lucrative, though not risk-free, market. Listed below is a selection of the best new plastics-related products introduced at the International Housewares Show. End-users, processors and distributors should note that an informal polling of companies at the show suggested that many of these companies do not have a presence, either on the molding or sales side, in Canada.