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The big themes at 2010 ABC kids show

Paul Banas
Author Paul Banas
Submitted 14-10-2010

Sorry for the tease. There were no big themes. Maybe it’s the recession or just a fluke, but I wasn’t the only one who had a hard time finding major conclusions from this year’s kid and baby products extravaganza in Las Vegas this week.  I saw a few things that were new – I judged the JPMA Innovation Awards – but no game changers.

Here are the subtle moves I did see, though I’d be over-stating it if I told you they came to me without a lot of digging:

1. Continued emphasis on natural, BPA-free, and organic.  I saw more than a few small manufacturers making organic cloth sandwich bags. Still there is a LOT of plastic at this show.  The major players are still wed to plastic products, as I guess, are their consumers.   Given the BPA issue, I’m surprised more people aren’t concerned about what’s next for plastic. You know some new news is coming.

2. Two manufacturers, Cybex and Summer Infant, introduced new infant car seat bases that make it easier to be sure you have a tight fix.  The industry says at least 7 of 10 car seats are not installed properly.

3. We saw fewer companies selling baby carriers in a million formats heralding the end of the baby carrier madness.   Some of this, of course, is due to infant deaths earlier in the year, but some part is also due to the economy and how over-developed that niche had become.   We saw classic baby carriers like the Baby Bjorn, reasonable $19.95 baby carriers from Infantino, stylish carriers from Belle, and also new breathable, warm weather slings from Baby K’tan among others.

4. While again ABC sold out early and booths covered every inch of both convention hall floors, there was more anxiety about the economy.  Baby products are still somewhat recession-proof. Babies and kids have always eaten up all of our disposable income,  but there are new fears that that disposable income is more in jeopardy now than in previous crises.

Next year, the event moves to Louisville, Kentucky.  Great Town for horse-racing, but a big trip from the West Coast to a town that won’t have a lot going on outside the ABC show.  My hope is that it will be back on the Left Coast before too long.

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