I’m writing this on the eve of the iPhone 5 release, and stores coast to coast in on the first wave of the latest Apple frenzy are giddy with the anticipation of long lines.
But what is there for retailers that don’t sell iPhones to get excited about?
The answer just might be housewares.
For the second year in a row, results of the annual HomeWorld Forecast consumer survey reveal that home furnishings (including housewares, appliances, furniture, etc.) outscored consumer electronics, cars, new homes and home renovation as the category in which consumers are most likely to invest during the next year.
A Little Perspective
First a little perspective: the HomeWorld Forecast results indicate consumers still are far from giddy about the listless economy. Soaring gas and food prices and sagging personal income continue to stunt their confidence in a recovery.
That’s what makes the showing of home products as a top near-term purchase preference so significant and encouraging. From one view, the Forecast findings validate the industry mantra that the need-based lineage of housewares helps keep the category buoyant when other retail segments seem more vulnerable to economic undertows.
The view that the housewares category at its essence is a composite of basic necessities resistant to economic softness, however, might not capture the whole picture.
In today’s new economic reality, many housewares and home furnishings products are well positioned to be affordable, aspirational accessories for a consumer base wary of bigger-ticket debt accumulation.
Agents Of Change
Home goods can be cost-effective agents of change, of comfort, of convenience, of efficiency, of wellness, of style, of surprise and of delight.
The housewares business has proven through economic heights, depths and flat lines to be a reliable retail anchor. To over-commoditize it, though, is to risk undermining its potential value to every stakeholder in the business— from manufacturers to wholesalers to retailers to consumers.
The annual HomeWorld Forecast (included with the October 1, 2012, edition of HomeWorld Business) provides a detailed projection of how consumers will decide to spend their dollars in core housewares categories during the next 12 months.
Don’t just use the Forecast to validate what you already believe to be true about consumer housewares expectations. Digest the information with an open mind to uncovering consumer purchase intent nuances that could help re-evaluate how to position core housewares categories for improved sales and productivity.
The housewares business rarely creates something capable of equaling the type of frenzy we’ll see over the latest iPhone.
There is something reassuring about the steadiness of housewares, especially in an otherwise unpredictable retail marketplace. But such a reputation for reliability doesn’t mean the segment can’t be more buzzworthy.
The consumer consistently votes for housewares over other categories. That’s an open invitation for the industry and retailers not only to satisfy the basic needs that keep housewares atop consumer purchase preferences, but also to tap into the growing desire for the category to enrich people.
The thought of that should make more retailers a little giddy.