Event Insights: International HBC/Household & GM  1/5/2016

Buyers and sellers from around the world gathered at ECRM’s recent International HBC and International Household, Housewares, and General Merchandise events, held last month in Ft. Lauderdale.

“It’s a great platform for us to find HBC and housewares products from all over the world,” said Fernando Salas, Finance Director for San Jose, Costa Rica-based Dipac, a distributor to retailers across the Central American country. “It’s great to have all of these people together in one place, as we can easily compare options, price points, and quality of products, and learn about the different global trends.”

According to comments from buyer and seller attendees during ECRM Event Debriefings, there were several trends. Two in particular, were mentioned by several attendees as hot trends during the event: Himalayan Salt products, and essential oils. 

Himalayan Salt
Interestingly, Himalayan salt was a trend of note across BOTH the HBC and the GM sides of the event. Himalayan salt is rock salt or halite from a mine in the Punjab region of Pakistan, which rises from the Indo-Gangetic Plain. It is mined in the Khewra Salt Mine, located in Khewra, Jhelum District, Punjab region, Pakistan, and occurs in a reddish or pink color, with some crystals having an off-white to transparent color.

It is commonly used in cooking, in place of other table salt, in brine, and for bath products such as bath salts, and were common ingredients in some of the HBC products featured at the event. Blocks of salt are also used as serving dishes and in the preparation of food, as they can be slowly heated to a temperature of around 200ºC (400ºF) and used as a cooking surface thereafter. Large crystal rocks, mined in Europe and Asia, are also used as salt lamps. A salt lamp is a lamp carved from a larger salt crystal, often colored, with an incandescent light bulb or a candle inside. The lamps give an attractive glow and are suitable for use as nightlights or for ambient mood lighting. When illuminated, salt crystals emit a soft glowing light.

Indeed, one company at the event, Salt Skill, offers products across all of these categories, including Himalayan bath salts, grilling planks, lamps, and even shot glasses (ideal for drinking Tequila).

Alternative Health/Essential Oils
Alternative health and homeopathy products were also popular trends, according to attendees of the events, with essential oils being a central ingredient in many of these items. Medical applications proposed by those who sell medicinal oils range from skin treatments to remedies to many other ailments – up to and including cancer. Interest in essential oils has revived in recent decades with the popularity of aromatherapy, a branch of alternative medicine that claims that essential oils and other aromatic compounds have curative effects. Oils are volatilized or diluted in a carrier oil and used in massage, diffused in the air by a nebulizer, heated over a candle flame, or burned as incense, and many suppliers at the events offered one or more of these items.

Indeed, one unique product at the event, Eiji Essentials’ Curb, is designed to enable smokers to have a nicotine-free means of eliminating the urge to smoke via essential oils. The product delivers a proprietary blend of essential oils and herbs to the tongue via a cigarette-shaped device that enables the user to mimic the movement of bringing a cigarette to the mouth to draw smoke.

The events also featured many innovative general merchandise products ranging from novelty items, cookware, home decor, and lots of storage solutions.

Turkish, Brazilian Pavilions
The events also featured a Turkish and Brazilian Pavilion featuring HBC and general merchandise products from these countries. According to Murat Akyuz, Chairman of Istanbul Chemicals and Chemical Products Exporters’ Association (IKMIB), the trade promotion organization for Turkey, the Pavilions at ECRM’s International EPPS events help its members expand their export possibilities globally.

“We’re trying to match our members with the right partners, and ECRM meetings are a great place to start,” he says. “In the global market, traditional trade shows are getting less popular, and these one-on-one meetings here are an ideal way for our companies to expand their markets. When they arrive at the show, everything is already set up for them, and the [ECRM Connect] technology has all of the information that they need for their meetings.”

IKMIB brought 17 HBC suppliers and 9 housewares suppliers to the event, and plans to bring more next year. One of these suppliers, Nalan Tuncer, Import and Export Manager for beauty supplier Selen Kozmetik, found the turnkey operation of ECRM’s Turkish Pavilion extremely helpful for her company’s sales efforts. “We don’t have to set up a booth or arrange for the shipment of products like we do at exhibitions,” she says. “Plus, we have all of the information about who we are meeting with on the iPad [via ECRM Connect] before they visit our table, so we can adjust our presentations accordingly. Plus, the dinners and networking events enable us to continue the discussions.”


From left: Walgreens Boots Alliance's Grace Vernon, Lily Child, and Aneurin Smith
A bus load of buyers from the events spent an afternoon touring local retail stores
From left: AThe Warehouse Ltd.'s Cari Tipina and Michelle; Briant Burke, CEO of Naturopathix (standing) and Chip Carter, mana
Adriana Barbeito of Very Important Import and Export, SA; Guillermo Ruiz de La Garza, Zell Laboratories; Alexander Ruiz de Ag
Members of the Turkish Trade Promotion Organization
Fernando Salas, Director of Finance of Dipac (left) and his colleagues
Entrance to the Turkish Pavilion
Inside the Turkish Pavilion, which featured 25 suppliers of HBC and GM products
ECRM's Marcus Allen with a fire dancer who performed during dinner

Joseph Tarnowski

VP Content

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