CHICAGO, IL – Consciousness, connectivity and creativity are top of mind for today’s consumers, according to authors of the 2022 International Housewares Association (IHA) Market Watch report. New proprietary research with insights into consumer mindsets, as well as opportunities for the housewares industry, were shared Sunday morning in a keynote session at The Inspired Home Show 2022, IHA’s Global Home + Housewares Market.
Owned and operated by IHA, the Show is being held March 5-7 at Chicago’s McCormick Place – the first in-person gathering of the industry’s premier marketplace since 2019.
“We took a deep dive into the attitudes and value sets of consumers with a survey conducted in January of 2022,” said Leana Salamah, IHA vice president, marketing. “Our goal is not to be prescriptive in terms of ‘This is exactly what you should do to reach consumers.’ Our goal is to provide some insights into what you might want to be looking at as we move into the next year.”
Salamah was joined by fellow Market Watch authors Tom Mirabile, principal of Springboard Futures, and Joe Derochowski, vice president and home industry advisor for The NPD Group. Peter Giannetti, editor-in-chief of HomePage News, moderated the discussion.
Conscious consumers are deliberate, considered purchasers who are constantly evaluating why this product, why this brand and why now. They are highly attuned to issues including health and wellness, social responsibility and reclaiming time/effort.
While wellness can mean many different things to different people, survey respondents actually ranked mental wellness as most important (77%) and physical wellness next (73%).
This emphasis on mental wellness is unique right now, and therefore a huge opportunity for the housewares industry, noted Derochowski. After a two-year pandemic, “we’re sick and tired of being sick and tired,” he said.
And while there is a lot of positive momentum as the world opens and covid restrictions are lifted, Mirabile pointed out that a good deal of stress remains for many people. “We’re not over it yet,” he said.
When it comes to physical wellness, “It’s less about weight management or how we present ourselves to the world, but more about how we feel,” said Salamah. Respondents ranked nutrition (57%), cardiovascular fitness (49%) and energy (48%) as the most important factors.
Social responsibility is also important to today’s consumer. Safe and healthy working environments for employees (84%) ranked highest, followed by development of sustainable products (72%) and diversity and inclusion (67%).
While many companies promote what they’re doing for employee work environments in business-to-business marketing, there is significant opportunity for brands to leverage this in their consumer marketing, said Salamah.
In addition, the conscious consumer is interested in reclaiming time and focusing their energies on what they love. When making purchase decisions, they are most interested in ease of use (92%), speed (83%) and more control (78%).
The point is not to completely remove consumers from a process, said Giannetti. “Our industry thrives by keeping consumers physically and emotionally engaged in what they’re doing.”
“This is all about keeping what you love in your life and eliminating friction,” agreed Mirabile. “For so many of us, time is friction.”
Creative consumers are excitable and passionate about variety, flexibility and learning. They are highly attuned to experimentation, fluidity, reinvention of home and self and the acquisition of new skills. The survey found that consumers have a strong desire to change many aspects of their homes…much more than they currently act on.
“Understanding there’s a great desire to make change is the first step,” said Giannetti. The next step is giving consumers a way to make those changes more accessible.
Accessorizing or giving people the ability to make incremental changes or updates to their homes is one way to do just that, said Salamah.
Another way to allow consumers to try new things without buying each new product outright is rental. While older generations expressed less interest, Millennials said they were very interested in renting products, with bakeware, seasonal home décor and kitchen electrics on the top of their lists.
Rental, or more industry-generated options to purchase refurbished or second-hand products, might gain steam in the future especially as technology changes so quickly, making it more difficult to pay full-price every time, said Derochowski.
While many consumers used pandemic shutdowns as an opportunity to learn a new skill, survey respondents were asked specifically which types of skills they are looking to learn in 2022. The areas of largest increase from 2021 were yoga/fitness/meditation (6% increase) and job-specific specialized skills (5% increase).
Connected consumers like to bring people, products/functions and brands together and see results. They are highly attuned to inter-personal relations, ingenuity/cleverness and sociability/shareability.
The Market Watch authors agreed smart home hasn’t taken off the way many thought it would have by now, in part due to quickly changing technology and in part because some smart products have technology just for the sake of it…and are not necessarily solving a consumer pain point.
Also, consumers have trouble conceptualizing, so the industry needs to make it easier for consumers to see and understand how a smart product can help them, said Derochowski.
According to IHA’s survey, consumers are most looking for smart products to help them with automatic cleaning, coordinating meal elements, detecting and suggesting recipes, detecting expired or empty products, detecting and ordering parts and identifying calorie counts and macros.
Product areas with the biggest increases in expected purchases in 2022 over 2021 are security (42% vs 31%), home environment (38% vs 28%), meal prep (24% vs 14%), health (29% vs 20%) and cleaning (32% vs 24%).
The IHA Market Watch report was launched in 2020 as a forward-looking resource to assist the home and housewares industry in understanding the latest consumer mindsets and values. Complete findings from the 2022 report will be available by the end of March.
An audio recording of the program will be posted on the Show’s website at https://www.theinspiredhomeshow.com/education/#keynotes. For more information about The Inspired Home TheInspiredHomeShow.com
The International Housewares Association is the 84-year-old voice of the housewares industry. The not-for-profit, full-service association sponsors the world’s premier exposition of products for the home, The Inspired Home Show, IHA’s Global Home + Housewares Market (TheInspiredHomeShow.com), and offers its 1,400 member companies a wide range of services, including industry and government advocacy, export assistance, industry and consumer trends through the IHA Market Watch Report, executive management peer groups, a B2B community at Housewares.org, group buying discounts on business solutions services, direct-to-consumer engagement through TheInspiredHome.com and an independent news and information platform through HomePageNews.com.