Morgan, of Glyndon, Md.-based manufacturers rep agency Morgan Pinnacle, is excited about KBIS’ expanded educational opportunities in New Orleans, as well as what lies ahead for the show as it co-locates with the International Builders’ Show starting next year in Las Vegas.
“We’ve definitely put more of a focus on business management this year,” Morgan says. “In terms of conferences, the show has gone from a handful a couple years ago to having more than 80 this year. There are still great design courses being offered, but we’re also talking this year about things such as accounts receivable in a business. We’re going from the design aspect to giving a much more comprehensive overview of areas we can help a business in.”
NKBA officials are expecting 20,000 attendees at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, including buyers and specifiers from more than 50 countries as well as 300 media members. Attendees include dealers, architects, remodelers, wholesalers and custom builders.
Attendance at KBIS, held annually the last 49 years, has been a topic of discussion in the industry in recent times as installments in Chicago (2012) and Las Vegas (2011) featured smaller show-floor footprints.
“A lot of trade shows have been down significantly in terms of show space,” Morgan says. “KBIS has been lucky. We’ve maintained more floor space than the majority of shows have and we’ve increased show attendance with a smaller show space. We definitely feel an upward trend going forward.”
Some exhibitors attribute the reduction in show space to the economy, while others feel companies are taking a hard look at where best to spend marketing dollars in a constantly evolving marketplace.
“The economy has something to do with it, but manufacturers still are deliberating about things such as how to integrate social media into their strategic marketing plans,” ROHL CEO and Managing Partner Lou Rohl says. “I think this impacts whether or not to choose to do a booth at KBIS or invest in something such as a larger digital presence. The short answer is you have to do it all. There are many relevant reasons for manufacturers to exhibit at KBIS. The industry needs to have an event where thought leaders, designers and influencers can come together and share ideas. We’ve seen a dip with the show support and now I think it’s resurging again.”
TOTO President of Sales-Americas David Krakoff feels continued economic recovery will play a big role in the resurgence of trade-show attendance.
“This has nothing to do with people’s interest or lack of interest in the products at the show,” he says. “This recent decline is not unique to the kitchen and bath industry. Companies have dealt with difficult economic times. As the economy continues to come back, people will feel more comfortable and there will be less pressure on the pocketbooks. Whether it comes back in droves depends on what the market looks like.”
The other big buzz going into New Orleans is the announcement earlier this year about KBIS co-locating with the International Builders’ Show starting next year in Las Vegas, giving show attendees access to two shows (to be called Design & Construction Week) under one roof.
“It’s a good thing for the industry and from our point of view it’s certainly a positive for us,” Zoeller Co. Director of Marketing Mark Huntebrinker says. “From an expense standpoint it allows us to focus on one week and one event. For us, IBS is a little broader line of products and KBIS tends to focus more on our home improvement items. To be able to do this in one fell swoop, so to speak, is a good thing.”
Geberit Vice President of Marketing John Fitzgerald adds: “Someone like us on the exhibitor’s side that hasn’t exhibited at the builders’ show before will benefit from being exposed to another audience.”
Delta Faucet Vice President of Marketing Susan Fisher sees the combining of the two shows paying dividends for all parties involved.
“The return-on-investment for the show-goer only can get better,” she says. “For one plane ticket and one entry cost you get to see a lot more new products in the marketplace. It’s going to open people’s eyes to things they might not have seen otherwise. For manufacturers, it means more customers in the building that could stop by. These are complementary businesses. The move makes a lot of sense.”
One construction area manufacturers continue to see an uptick in is remodeling where homeowners are investing in upgrading their current living spaces. KBIS and next year’s combined shows are venues that address that need by showcasing the latest products, technologies and trends.
“We saw a few years ago where consumers were partaking in remodel-light where they would tweak a few things such as adding drawer pulls or painting a wall,” Moen Wholesale Marketing Communications Manager Laura Ostenkamp says. “We’re starting to see a little more in-depth activity and a broader scale of remodeling.”
Fisher sees homeowners driven by several motivations when it comes to a remodel. “If you go back five or six years we’ve seen a tremendous decrease in new home starts and those who own homes are losing 20% to 30% in value,” she says. “Unless they have to move, they want to stay in their homes and build equity back up. If they are staying in the home, they want it to be nice and the first places to upgrade are the kitchen and bath.”
The combined KBIS-IBS platform will stay in Las Vegas through 2016. Next year’s show will be held Feb. 4-6 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
Following the trends
A recent National Kitchen & Bath Association survey reveals the Top 10 design trends for 2013.
- Gray color schemes in both kitchens and baths have dramatically escalated since 2010.
- Transitional-style kitchens and baths have clearly surpassed traditional styles.
- The use of quartz finishes has surfaced as a clear trendsetter this year.
- Among painted cabinetry, white has stayed on top of the chart since last year.
- The preference for glass splashes has dramatically grown over the past three years.
- Energy-efficient lighting is widely used by member designers in both the U.S. and Canada.
- Touch-activated faucets are growing in popularity. Pullout faucets still are the most popular.
- For kitchen faucet finishes, satin nickel has been on the top of the list since 2011.
- In the bathroom, ceramic or porcelain tile flooring remains the most popular of all materials.
- Undermount sinks, in slight decline this year, remain the most-specified type of lavatory sink.