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The Xelsis espresso maker from Saeco is designed with the milk container on the outside. saeco-usa.comThe Xelsis espresso maker from Saeco is designed with the milk container on the outside. saeco-usa.com

By David Gill

Last month's International Home + Housewares Show had a lot of electricity.

That's electricity both in terms of what's used to power the small electric appliances, personal-care products and floor-care products that were unveiled at the show, and the feeling that these categories have turned a corner from the recessionary period of the past couple of years.

These categories are poised for a rebound because of the innovative technologies that go into them; plus consumers are choosing to save their money by entertaining at home more often, and by taking care of themselves by themselves instead of at a salon.

Small Electrics

Introductions from Cuisinart, Hamilton Beach, KitchenAid and Saeco demonstrated that coffeemakers are still hot with consumers.

Cuisinart made its splash in the single-serve category, with the launch of its Single Serve Brewing System, which is designed to work specifically with the patented K-Cup portion packs produced by Keurig. Hamilton Beach unveiled a full line of coffeemakers and tea makers under its recently formed license with Melitta, and presented the Stay or Go Coffee Maker, which can brew both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee at the same time.

Innovative technologies such as that seen in the Stay or Go were the order of the day for some of the new coffeemakers at the show. Saeco's new Xelsis machine is constructed with milk container on the outside, where it doesn't interfere with the coffee-brewing process.

Versatility is one of the selling points behind KitchenAid's new collection of coffeemakers. Along with removable water tanks and a flat brew basket to maximize the flavor extraction from the coffee grinds, the new models are designed with variable brew strengths to appeal to consumers' individual tastes.

Along with debuting three new series of espresso makers, Krups also raised the curtain on its brand repositioning. The Groupe SEB brand is basing its positioning on six aspects: tradition (Krups was founded in 1847), its passion for espresso, the precision of its products, perfection in brewing results, technology and design.

Personal Care

For the increasing number of consumers who are staying home from the salon and opting to take care of their hair themselves, the personal-care vendors offered up a variety of hair appliances that provide professional-grade results.

Helen of Troy's contribution to this trend is the Pro Beauty line, which made its first appearance in the form of a hair straightener. The company called Pro Beauty a "true professional line which produces high heats and instant recovery in the straightener."

Targeting families who want to cut down on their trips to the barber, Andis launched the Easy Cut + Home Haircutting Kit, which comes with a professional-quality clipper, a trimmer blade set and eight combs for cutting hair to various lengths. Fred Koeller, Andis' vice president of marketing, said the company developed this kit based on technology from its commercial side. "Beauty salon and barber products are our roots," Koeller said.

Along the same lines, Conair added a professional-style curling wand to its established Infiniti line of hair-care products. The conical barrel in the wand creates free-flowing curls without a clamp, which is the sort of curling wand used by professional hair stylers.

Floor Care

Turning down the sound volume on vacuums proved to be a significant trend at the Housewares Show.

Electrolux unveiled its UltraSilencer DeepClean among a grouping of new products. Along with its ability to deep-clean all floor surfaces, the new product has a motor that operates at 65 decibels through Silent Air Technology, a trademarked development that redirects and insulates the motor's noise.

Verilux's new CleanWave UV-C Sanitizing Furniture & Bed Vac offers a less noisy 400-watt motor along with its ability to sanitize as it vacuums. The new product also uses ultraviolet-light technology to sanitize surfaces as it vacuums.

Anticipating a growing trend toward canisters, Hoover and Dirt Devil (both under the TTI Floor Care umbrella) displayed new canister vacuums at the show. Hoover's new one is part of its Platinum collection, which also includes an upright, a carpet cleaner and a stick vacuum. The Dirt Devil introduction is called the Fantasy Tattoo Canister, and is the only vacuum in its line not colored in red. Instead, it comes with purple ivy, black ivy and bronze butterflies designs.

The Xelsis espresso maker from Saeco is designed with the milk container on the outside. saeco-usa.com

HFN Staff | News & Commentary

HFN provides detailed information on the key home classifications: Housewares, Tabletop, Floor Covering & Rugs, Furniture, Home Textiles, Lighting, Home Decor, Mattresses & Bedding, Gifts, Major Appliances and Consumer Electronics as well as Business, Finance and Retail.


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