Going The Extra Mile For Housewares Design
Monday February 21st, 2011 - 1:23PM
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NEW YORK— Talk about going the extra mile.
That literally was the case for the many who attended this month’s Housewares Design Awards ceremony in New York City, which took place in the middle of a week that saw 29 states and more than 100 million people impacted by one of the worst winter storms in years.
Going even one mile was treacherous, if not impossible, for many planning to attend the Housewares Design Awards. Airports across the country’s midsection were on standby the day before the ceremony, and Northeast roads and rails leading to New York City were covered by ice the morning of the event.
I recently wrote in this space about how retailers can reclaim some control from an otherwise uncontrollable situation by turning consumers shut in by winter weather into an Internet sales opportunity.
Taking control of the situation is exactly what attendees of the Housewares Design Award did. Some air travelers preempted the storm by getting to New York City earlier than originally planned (this included a number of overseas travelers). Some from closer to New York went in the day before or awoke a few hours earlier the day of the event. It also helped that the Housewares Design Awards luncheon coincided once again with the New York International Gift Fair, as several attendees of the awards ceremony already were in town for the trade show.
Thanks to the extra effort of all who made it to New York, the Housewares Design Awards ceremony successfully played to nearly a full room. (I’m sure those thwarted by the storm gave it their best effort, too, and that’s appreciated.)
Extra effort is an underlying theme of the Housewares Design Awards. Each of this year’s finalists and winners— from the smallest to the largest companies and from industry upstarts to veterans— has embraced the extra effort required to deliver meaningful product innovation that drives the housewares industry.
The Housewares Design Awards at first glance seems to be all about recognizing clever products that make everyday living better. And I encourage everyone to examine this year’s winning products to fully appreciate the creative design qualities, some obvious and some subtle, that earned each of them a place on the podium.
Making A Difference
Look deeper into the award-winning products, however, and you should see award-winning people. Innovation is a team effort that starts with an encouraging company culture, then moves through a diverse lot of people— designers, engineers, manufacturers, operation specialists, marketers, salespeople, retail buyers, store associates and more— before finally reaching consumers.
A product can’t make a difference until the people behind it make a difference.
As Housewares Design Awards finalists in New York mixed with one another, with media, with retailers and with other guests of the event, the freezing rain pelting Times Square was hardly an issue. The climate for celebrating housewares innovation was perfectly balmy inside the Marriott.
One finalist’s representative, who left behind 80-degree temperatures in Orlando to attend the awards ceremony, said he got some great ideas by being at the event. His company’s product didn’t win, but he said the trip was well worth it.
Going the extra mile usually is.
Dissecting what Ron Johnson got wrong during his brief, calamitous term at the helm of J.C. Penney is sure to be the focal point of retail strategy and tactics lessons for years to come. But Penney’s future could still hinge to some extent on what he got right.