Thursday, July 16, 2009

Out Of Your Comfort Zone

By Mary Gerlach, associate editor

Last week, I gave my colleague and fellow Baby & Kids editor Stephanie a sample of Snack Happened, a reusable snack bag, from Itzy Ritzy. Just a few days after sharing the bag, I read a blog post Stephanie wrote for Fancy Food & Culinary Products magazine about Snack Happened, and I was thrilled to see the review and her endorsement. It got me thinking about how often products within the juvenile industry cross over into other markets; in this case a child’s lunch bag crossed over into gourmet food.

When product designers limit what they do to a specific market, they limit the growth and sales potential of their product. This is exactly why children’s furniture is shown at trade shows as varied as ABC Kids Expo and High Point Market. The shows are worlds away but there is an overlap in the furniture market. Just as manufactures can’t afford to miss out on supposedly out-of-industry markets, retailers can’t afford to not attend new and different trade shows.

I’m going to the Chicago Market this week and I’m really looking forward to discovering what new finds the giftware market has to offer the juvenile market. Considering items like layette and personal care naturally fall within both categories, attending a gift show is an excellent way to discover new companies. And, the importance of keeping close tabs on trends in other industries cannot be understated. Yes, no one wants to copy someone else’s idea but innovation spreads, and examining product design and speaking with vendors really gets the creative juices flowing.

I’ll post next week about my trip to The Chicago Market, and my fellow editors and I will share with you our favorite finds.

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