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Look To Consumers For The Answers

The September 25, 2017, issue of HomeWorld Business is paired with the 19th annual HomeWorld Forecast, our exclusive consumer survey of housewares shopping preferences and expectations.

By asking consumers what they expect to buy, why they expect to buy and where they expect to buy, among other key questions, the HomeWorld Forecast survey once again provides housewares retailers and marketers with important guideposts to help direct strategies for the coming year.

Reliable Projection

The reliability of this annual consumer survey— developed by the HomeWorld Business team and fielded by market data and insights leader NPD— lies in a key detail that might be overlooked. Some research companies will tell you a national sample of about 300 consumers is enough to make a reasonable projection of consumer intent. The Forecast survey extends much wider, delivering at least 2,000 responses for each of the 17 core housewares categories tracked.

The extra investment and effort to survey thousands of prospective housewares shoppers amplifies the usefulness of the findings to merchants and marketers that depend on category-specific data and insights to pinpoint their own investment and effort.

Each annual HomeWorld Forecast records shifts in consumer shopping attitudes and behavior that can seem incremental year over year. Substantial housewares market transformation becomes more evident when those shifts are examined over the course of nearly two decades of the Forecast survey.

Enduring Loyalties

Amazon, for example, was nowhere to be found among retailer preferences specified by consumers in the inaugural HomeWorld Forecast survey in 1999. Meanwhile, Linens ‘N Things, Service Merchandise and several other since-extinct storefronts were still among the outlets selected by prospective housewares shoppers.

Despite the advancing rate of e-commerce as the preference of HomeWorld Forecast survey panelists, this year’s responses indicate enduring loyalties to traditional brick-and-mortar nameplates, even among many younger consumers.

A slight resurgence by some veteran stores as preferred outlets in select categories confirms a blurring of lines separating the physical and digital platforms of many retailers. A respondent choosing Walmart as her most likely outlet for cookware, for example, isn’t necessarily choosing between its stores and its e-commerce site.

Mainstream Move

It should surprise few that the HomeWorld Forecast survey results also verify an increasing consumer preference for leading off-price stores. A more telling sign of the direction of store retailing, though, finds a closeout specialist such as Ollie’s Bargain Outlet moving into the mainstream of consumer shopping selections for certain housewares categories.

Close examination of this year’s HomeWorld Forecast findings uncovers many actionable points, some more surprising than others.

Consumers have plenty of answers to help guide housewares strategies in the coming year. Some answers might set the cornerstones of the next big market transformation.

We’ll keep asking the questions.