Hot Trends in the U.S. Housewares Market
Despite the economic downturn, North America remains one of the largest markets for ‘housewares’ in the world. According to the most recent estimates, the US and Canada accounted for 25% of global housewares retail sales totalling US$76.7 billion. So what are the latest trends in the market and what opportunities do these present for Australian exporters?
Dollars for Design
The primary, overarching trend in the U.S. housewares market is the move by the consumer toward high design. Whether this trend is manifested through more intelligent functionality or through more eye-appealing construction, the U.S. consumer has begun to appreciate the value that design adds to any product at any price. From $4,000 automatic coffee machines to cleverly designed baking tools, from ergonomic handles to new cooking methods such as induction or sous vide, from more functional cleaning tools to high-powered kitchen appliances, thoughtful design is being rewarded through increased purchases.
Although not as prominent as in years past, the U.S. consumer has not abandoned concerns for the environment and is voicing those concerns through purchasing behavior. Consumers look at country of origin, the uses of materials and the recyclability of the materials that make up the housewares products they purchase.
Another macro-trend is the move to more casual products for the home, somewhat prompted by the generational shifts underway with the aging of the Baby Boom cohort and the rise of Generation Y and the Millennials, who tend to value convenience and change the look of their living space more frequently. This has led to a much broader use of color in home products, to more unique shapes and sizes of kitchen appliances and eventually to greater replacement frequency of home goods by younger generations.
The Power of Celebrity
Perhaps the greatest change for home goods over the past five to 10 years is the emergence of the influence of professional chefs and home remodelers who have come to dominate the cable channels of U.S. television. Celebrity endorsements have become a major driver of business for cookware, cutlery, appliances, tabletop and other home categories. Guy Fieri, Paula Deen and Australia’s own Curtis Stone are leading the way.
The internet and digital technologies are having an increasing influence on the U.S. Housewares market. In a year where international retail markets floundered E-commerce displayed resilient growth, with sales increasing 16.1% to US$194.3 billion (in 2011) according to the US Department of Commerce. An explosion of digital innovations, most notably the emergence and rapid adoption of Smartphone and Tablet technology, has transformed the buyer seller relationship. Instead of getting defensive, some stores and brands are embracing the change by creating new personal touches that feature these new innovations in preference to more sales staff. In the future, QR codes and other innovative social shopping services will provide consumers with unparalleled choice. Retailers and vendors alike need to position themselves to take advantage of the huge growth opportunities this offers.
【Source :Australian Gift & Homewares Association 】