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Graduating To A Stronger Housewares Future

Monday May 26th, 2014 - 2:01PM

Amid the hopeful preparation for my first child’s high school graduation and journey to college is the anxiety about what my eldest daughter will encounter when she enters the career market four years from now.

She is on the tail end of a Millennial generation that has been hailed as the key cog in the next wave of American consumerism, but also one whose prospects could be tempered by a finicky marketplace.

That generation and the looming generation behind it, nonetheless, are the future— however cloudy that future might seem at times.

Real Stability

The housewares industry has a unique opportunity to help lift those clouds as an active recruiter of this next wave of talent.

The housewares business might not always register high among the career aspirations of today’s future development, marketing and management whizzes. Yet, while it might not seem as exciting as mobile technology, alternative energy, finance, entertainment, fashion and a host of other industries, housewares has real stability going for it.

It doesn’t soar to dizzying heights during boom economies (remember them?). Nor does it collapse when economies crumble.

Indeed, the housewares industry, underpinned by everyday utility and need, is part of the antidote to a finicky marketplace.

For all its basic qualities, the housewares business still gets to ally with the hottest market bubbles with confidence it will remain afloat when those bubbles burst. From state-of-the-art design to “smart” technology to digital marketing and more, successful housewares companies are immersed in leading-edge development.

The root of it all, though, remains a reliable, broad industry generally buffeted from economic extremes.

I’ve heard some housewares industry executives lament the challenges of attracting the brightest young talent. That raises the stakes for the leaders in this business to brighten the spotlight on housewares as a premium career destination.

I’ve written before about the progress to that effect made by the creation of college development and marketing programs focused on home products (FIT in New York City has been a pioneer on that front). 

Career Paths

If the overall economy sustains steady improvement as the latest high school graduates pursue their degrees during the next several years, it could result in a stronger job market by the time they enter the work force.

Scores of young adults like my daughter have too much going on right now to fully absorb the gravity of what’s ahead for them; and the full scope of the hurdles and decisions they will confront along their career paths.

The housewares industry might have to work harder than some other industries to be viewed as a preferred landing spot for this next generation. But the housewares business has plenty of advantages, too.

Now is the time for the housewares industry to reinforce its future.

Good luck, everyone.

—peter Giannetti