Following unprecedented demand during the pandemic years, the home and housewares industry finds itself at a unique inflection point in 2023. Suppliers and retailers are wondering how to stay engaged with customers, how to meet their quickly changing needs and what will inspire them to buy in challenging financial times. The International Housewares Association (IHA) has just released its 2023 IHA Market Watch Report, which is designed to assist the home and housewares industry with connecting to consumer values. As consumers adjust to a post-pandemic world, this report revisits five key drivers or motivating factors in consumers’ purchase decisions for home and housewares products: Wellness, Time, Space, Experience and Responsibility.
The report is based on the IHA Market Watch Survey, whose results illustrate how consumers are feeling, what they want, what they need and what motivates them to buy items for their homes. It also sheds light on what consumers learned during the pandemic, what habits or values endure and how they see their home lives evolving in the coming year. Each section of the report contains data and analysis, as well as suggestions for ways that both product developers and retailers can connect with consumers in 2023.
Wellness: In 2023, wellness is an extremely important driving force in people’s lives and a motivating factor in many of their home-related purchase decisions. According to the report, 81% of survey respondents said wellness was very or somewhat important to their daily lives at home. In fact, while all five of the survey’s drivers are important to respondents, wellness emerged as the overwhelming top priority. When asked which was most important to them at home, 47% said wellness. That was followed by time (19%), experience (14%), space (11%) and responsibility (9%).
Time: As consumers try to find their way in a post-pandemic world, they’re feeling like time is not on their side. More people are returning to the office for work, and commutes are cutting into their days. Others have hybrid work arrangements, juggling two profoundly different types of workdays and time considerations. What’s more, kids are back to school and all their activities, which brings a whole different set of time-related challenges. According to the report, 70% of survey respondents said they wished they had more time or more resources to save time. In fact, 23% said they always wished they had more time; 18% said often and 29% said sometimes.
Space: While consumers might not be as cramped for space as they were during the height of pandemic shutdowns, space challenges remain now that some consumers have permanent work-from-home arrangements, either every day or on some days of the week. And now that consumers have spent so much time at home—and have come to understand the incredible impact that their living space has on their wellbeing—they are craving affordable and easy ways to update, change or improve their living areas. According to the report, 60% of survey respondents said they experience some kind of space-related challenge at home; 17% said “many,” 21% said “a few” and 22% said “sometimes.”
Experience: There’s no question that people are craving experiences after the pandemic limited so many of them. While many industry forecasters predicted this would drive spending away from home and housewares, the current economic climate is making restaurants, travel and other out-of-home experiences cost-prohibitive for some consumers….and causing others to think twice. As a result, it’s a perfect time to promote home-based experiences that can be enjoyed at a fraction of the price. For example, there is a significant pent-up demand for at-home entertaining. According to the report, 10% of consumers “often” try to create new experiences at home, such as meals or social gatherings, and replicating paid activities like going to a spa or movie theatre. But the IHA Market Watch survey indicates there is an opportunity to engage with consumers who are interested in these experiences but may have barriers such as time, money or simply feeling out of practice or unsure of how to get started.
Responsibility: Responsibility has historically focused on environmental issues, but in recent years consumers have become increasingly concerned about social responsibility. Many expect the companies they buy from to be committed to both environmental and social solutions. This is partly due to the sense of global community created during the COVID-19 pandemic, but also a result of consumers becoming more educated and informed. According to the report, 67% of survey respondents said they’re socially/environmentally conscious at home, either often (33%) or sometimes (34%). This response offers retailers and suppliers an opportunity to lower some barriers to entry—namely price and convenience—in order to connect with more consumers, especially those who answered “only if convenient” and “not yet, but want to.”
First launched in 2020, the IHA Market Watch Report is part of IHA’s efforts to help retailers and suppliers of home and housewares connect with the consumer lifestyle trends and values that will drive success. It was written by IHA in conjunction with Joe Derochowski, vice president and home industry advisor for Circana, the new market research firm formed by the merger of IRI and The NPD Group, and Tom Mirabile, principal and founder of Springboard Futures, and IHA’s consumer trends forecaster.
The 2023 IHA Market Watch Survey was conducted by CivicScience Dec. 13-20, 2022, among a sample range between 2,800 – 3,400 adults. The interviews were based on age, gender and household income and conducted through partnerships with hundreds of online and mobile content publishers and then aggregated into a centralized proprietary platform.