Best of Show: Our Top Takeaways from IBS 2024

Our team made its annual pilgrimage to the International Builders Show and the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show to see how brands are innovating across product categories. Las Vegas abounded with noteworthy developments—below, Interrupt leaders weigh in on the key takeaways and “best ofs” from the 2024 tradeshow.

Best New Product

Better residential energy management. What’s trending now is not going off the grid, per se—it's optimizing the grid by better coordinating power sources, including solar, battery, back-up generators and more. Some big brands entered the residential energy management space a few years ago, but at IBS we saw those companies evolving and expanding their offerings. Lesser-known or smaller companies have entered with their own solutions, too. There were examples across the tradeshow floor, from LG, Eaton, GE/Savant, SPAN Panel/Tesla, Enginuity and others. This is a category that is likely to expand rapidly and the brands that go aggressively after early market share will gain a big advantage.

Best Brand Collaboration

GE and Savant. As we cited in “best new product,” smart homes and energy storage had a big presence at the show. We liked the Net Zero Energy Home collaboration between GE and Savant, which capitalized on Savant’s impressive offering and range of scalable residential energy management/optimization solutions. The power system provides a secure energy source, optimizes usage on or off grid and has a bunch of advanced modes for whole-home energy fulfillment.

Best Trends

Parent brands embracing their children. This year we saw more companies collectively selling their portfolio of brands within their booths. The companies that did it best managed to tell a more complete and compelling story about the entire family of products and identities, without overwhelming their audience. Some of the greatest examples were Fortune Brands, who are progressively moving from a house of brands model where the parent company had little-to-no presence to having a Fortune Brands booth with a designated area for each product. They managed to make that transition while keeping a consistent tone and voice—no easy feat.

Another noteworthy example was Oldcastle APG (an Interrupt client). They launched their new brand architecture at the show, and this was the first time they introduced a broader benefit story for their entire portfolio. They shared an overarching message that really clicked: “Live Well Outside.” That new structure sets them up to sell full projects instead of lone products, because you could see how their six product categories played together.

Best Booth Experience

It’s over the top every year, and 2024 was no exception: Kohler again created an environment that featured their products but also reinforces their position as a lifestyle brand more than a faucet company. The booth is always so crowded that navigating it or getting a good look at things can be challenging, which is a testament to its effectiveness.

Emtek’s SELECT hardware bar was another notable booth. Many times, companies launch products at IBS/KBIS, but the launch to mass distribution timeline can be long. Emtek’s experience was designed around the immediate gratification of taking a product home, which we loved. Visitors saw handles throughout the booth with a variety of finishes and styles they could touch and feel, mixing and matching finishes and colors. Once they settled on a combination, they could have the people behind the bar make the perfect handle for them to be picked up at the show or shipped.

Best Design

The most inspiring thing we saw was the hood and range from La Cornue USA - Luxury French Ranges & Hoods. The hood and range costs $400K—insane! It had meticulous detail down to etched stars on the burner covers.

We also took notice of the product design at SMEG. Beautiful shapes, colors and finishes (a black matte fridge was especially sleek). And the co-branding with French luxury brand Veuve Clicquot to design a perfect little champagne fridge was fun.

Most Inspiring Brand Trend

For years, it seems like there’s been debate over whether doing good is, in fact, good business. While many manufacturers have charitable foundations, the work they do is often siloed from the brand’s primary go-to-market message. This year, we continued to see more major brands putting their sustainability and social responsibility efforts front and center in their brand message. (Important, given that 77% of consumers are motivated to purchase from companies committed to making the world a better place.) Millennials and younger generations, especially, have continued to demonstrate that they want to do business with brands that share their values. Those who make it easy to see what they stand for and how they are making a positive impact will earn their attention, business and loyalty.

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