Garnering the largest attendance in years (topping 100K attendees), the show was jam-packed with impressive exhibits, new innovations and plenty of energy. In this post, you’ll find our collective thoughts and takeaways from the biggest IBS in more 10 years.
bill rossiter, ceo and principal
We saw plenty of energy and crowded walkways this year.
That’s because it was the largest audience in more than 10 years, drawing
together more than 100,000 attendees. It’s great to see the momentum and
excitement coming back into the industry.
There were more demos this year to help trial the performance
of products but very little focus (except for KBIS booths) was placed on color
and aesthetic trends, which engage the influential female customers. However,
the decking category seemed to be one that had upped their game. There was AR
all over the place but with limited benefits in most cases. I was surprised
that I didn’t see more emphasis on productivity or new installation practices
to address the labor shortage. I also thought I’d see more around multifamily
given the forecasted growth rate over single family.
And while there was more excitement and traffic, I was struck
with how many of the exhibitors’ employees had no energy — sitting in chairs,
on their phones, talking to each other. Many had absolutely no story to tell
about their brand or products. If you’re going to spend thousands of dollars to
attend, make sure you have a differentiated story and then spend the time to
train and hold your team accountable to tell it powerfully — or don’t waste the
Loved the energy and traffic but felt many brands are still
promoting mere features of their products and stuck in the sea of sameness with
anita holman, executive creative director and brand strategist
As a female in building materials, I couldn’t help but notice
the overabundance of middle-aged, white men working the booths and walking the
show. I don’t think companies are aware of how quickly things are shifting and
most are not prepared.
With millennials slated to take over the majority of home
buyers in the near future, companies need to be relatable and understand their
purchase approach. Most of the booths displayed products in traditional ways,
touch and feel. But what happens when a shopper wants to purchase an entire
kitchen online? Most companies are not prepared to create an amazing digital
shopping experience. Beyond changing the shopping experience, millennials are
also swimming in debt and unable to purchase a home. Companies who figure out
ways to help support this first purchase will win the business and loyalty.
jeff petit, director of client services
Even though this was the International Builders Show, there
was a lot of interest and talk by builders attending, and brands exhibiting,
about the remodeling, renovation and repair market. Still feeling the sting of
the 2008-2009 new home construction meltdown, the industry is watching closely
economist’s predications that new housing starts in the U.S. will plateau at
1.2 million annually at least until 2023. So, builders and brands are looking
at opportunities as homeowners may decide to stay in place and look at
remodeling projects rather than building new.
matt davis, associate creative director
There was far less printed material available for attendees.
Nearly everything has gone digital including badge scans to get on the email
list, “Learn more online at...”, touchscreens and more. This shift makes sense.
It provides a treasure-trove of user analytics. But I still miss the occasional
printed piece, to remind me of the company and product booth experience after
jen molnar, senior copywriter
What I noticed was the continued and even expanded emphasis
on personalization, including the role of women as decision drivers in the
home-buying process. For example, Café appliances (“Making appliances
personal”) offered a rich hands-on, mood board creation experience that
included not just a jewelry-like selection of appliance hardware and kitchen
surfaces, but actual jewelry, sumptuous fabrics and other decorative objects to
create a luxurious and completely personalized style capsule. It was surrounded
by female visitors, eager to engage, create and design.
ashley mcmahon, copywriter
From a social media standpoint, I noticed that some of the
top brands weren’t very well represented. This year, our team put a lot of
effort into social content. Whether it was to raise awareness for the brands’
booths or events, we were very active. Other brands – not so much. This
surprised me because a large trade show like IBS is a great opportunity to
capitalize on the active event hashtag but also encourage check-ins and
engagement through social media. It leaves me to wonder if these big brands are
just so comfortable at the top that they phone it in during trade shows or if
they’re really not prioritizing this critical marketing initiative. If the
latter is the case, then this leaves big opportunities for smaller brands to
swoop in and gain traction through a space that has lots of eyes at a fraction
of the cost of traditional advertising.