We’re at the tipping point of profound changes in the Housewares market that affect product form and function, consumer behavior, brand identity and the shopping experience. Every area of the Housewares industry is seeing new trends developing as designers respond to a diverse and complex array of forces influencing the entire process of product design from identifying needs to final production.
Below are the top 8 trends that I see unfolding in this exciting market.
Don’t you hate making a purchase based on beautiful form, only to find that the materials or quality don’t live up to the form’s promise? How often does a product fall short when decorative material begins peeling off or pitting or simply feels flimsy or too light? Products that engage authentic materials with beautiful form – think of beautifully folded kitchen knives and the use of solid metals in handles and grips – are winning consumers’ hearts and minds. The "real deal" means not cutting corners.
Many Americans are committed to improving their health, but who has time to pour through medical research or gather all the ingredients for meaningful action? We need help. Smart companies are answering the call with smart products that make healthy living easier. From juicing machines to smoothie makers to machines that work with prepackaged recipes, anything that helps save time and ensure healthy choices is a big hit right now.
Everyone wishes they could cook like Ina Garden or Curtis Stone, right? Our fascination with cooking as an art we can practice at home is here to stay and it’s driving a desire for professional, quality products in the kitchen. Tools stamped with a legendary name like Viking or celebrity endorsement like Rick Bayless have an immediate advantage. But quality materials and a "professional" design signal to our dinner guests that we love to cook and we’re good at it. We use our homes as a place to reflect who we are. We like making our hobbies obvious. Kitchen tools that look and feel "pro" are all the rage.
How often do you find yourself asking, "Why hasn’t someone solved this problem?" If necessity is the mother of invention, we’re seeing this adage applied to housewares like never before. From bag clips with built in pour spouts to magnetic Spot Scrubbers that allow you to clean even the most narrowly necked decanter or other impossible-to-clean nook or cranny, niche products are happening everywhere. Another great example: iPad accessories that prop devices at just the right angle and height for reading recipes and protecting screens from hands gooey with dough. Simple low-tech niche products are hot right now.
If we are honest with ourselves, are these the good ol’ days of tomorrow? We all succumb to the emotional hook of nostalgia, from features and forms to patterns and graphics. What was old is new again. Current color stories overlap with color stories of years gone by and shapes seem to be inspired by classics forms we haven’t seen in years. A perfect example is the Aladdin lunch kit series in authentic plaid patterns that play with the classic shapes and patterns of the past, reinventing them for the new consumer.
We’re sick of clutter, but how do we minimize the sheer amount of stuff we think we need? Multipurpose, multifunction designs that save space, money and time are meeting our changing expectations as we continue to attempt to simplify a life overwhelmed with details. Look to any savvy New Yorker or Japanese consumers in Tokyo: space is precious. Finally, average Americans are taking note. In response companies are creating salad spinners with retractable handles for easy storage, and products that nest and collapsible pans. Things that work and fit in tighter footprints are hot. The trend doesn’t stop at storage either; we can now create bubbly beverages at home, eliminating the need to store twelve-packs of bottled water and saving space and money. As cities become more populated and urban living trends continue to escalate, new ways to save space in the kitchen and pantry are huge.
Is it just me or does it seem that we are swinging away from "save your pennies" to "you get what you pay for?" Price is not as dominant a driver of consumption as it once was. In a world that’s exploded with endless information, we find ourselves stuck in a corner; we want to make educated decisions, but who’s our best and most trusted advisor? The Dyson guy seems pretty smart; he also seems trustworthy and authentic. If you can tell me in a credible way why this is the product for me, I’ll buy it and maybe buy the other thing you recommend. Trusted sales people send the numbers for conversion rates and additional sales skyrocketing. Have a story — a good and real one – and tell it well, and your product will fly off the shelf.
Every time you turn around it seems there’s a new way to enhance the shopping experience. In fact, we’re in the midst of a revolution in the shopping experience. Savvy companies are implementing the greatest variety of shopping tools possible, from social media to apps to search engine optimization on websites. Technology can help little companies and single products break out of obscurity. Soon we’ll be able to load a virtual version of our home on our phone and see which color of Kitchen Aid mixer looks best on the counter. One day we may be buying plans or scans of items to create the actual product in our own home on our 3D printer. Even with all of these changes, a brick and mortar presence is essential for most products. But look to a digital future for all products.
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Image courtesy of Belle-V