Home Comfort Weathers Changing Consumer Lifestyles

NEW YORK— Home environment has had to weather some storms in the past as consumer preferences and even environmental changes have impacted the category. However, vendors noted the steady growth the category as a whole has enjoyed of late and the successes specific segments continue to experience.

The healthy home message and healthy living of today’s consumer continues to support the category’s growth, vendors noted. For segments such as water and air purification, the correlation is clear.

Consumers are more educated when it comes to the issues surrounding unhealthy indoor environments. Water pollution even stemming from the country’s own aging infrastructure has hit headlines and caused consumers to explore solutions. When it comes to water quality, consumers today are more interested in halting plastic waste than their predecessors, and water filtration paired with hydration solutions experienced a boost over the past 12 months, vendors noted.

“People are waking up to the fact that most plastic bottles are not recycled and that means they are ending up in landfills or the oceans, which blights the environment and threatens micro-plastics to enter our food and water chains,” said Bluewater president, Anders Jacobson.

Consumers within the segment are looking for high-end units, vendors agreed, to deliver high-end features. “We believe consumers are looking for compact, efficient solutions that provide them peace of mind about the quality of water they and their families are drinking and bathing in,” said Jacobson.

When it comes to air, Henrique Boscolo, international sales manager at Winix, said, “The segment continues to grow due to asthma and allergies becoming a more talked about topic on the news and by doctors. In the past, weather news anchors would only talk about the temperature and the different type of fronts coming in, now they also talk about the pollen count in the air.”

He noted that in-demand features include air cleaners that will work autonomously in the background of consumers’ busy lives. Units with an auto mode, air quality indicators and sensors are being sought after to optimize the cleanliness of the room without having to think about it, he said.

Vendors noted that healthy living consumers also look to other segments. In fact, Dean Brindle, vp/category strategy and product development at DeLonghi, said, “The term ‘health and wellness’ can be applied in so many different areas and mean something completely different from one consumer to another.”

He noted, “Brands will seek to find ways to incorporate wellness into their product development and communication efforts to make more relevant products for the consumer. Whether a product is designed for air purification, temperature and humidity management or simply to be quieter, each of these attributes will contribute to health and wellness in the home.”

For air conditioning and heating, appliances are turning to multi-functional uses, Brindle noted, but consumers want to know that they are getting a product that excels in all feature sets and delivers on performance.

“As the weather becomes more unpredictable, a consumer doesn’t want to swap a heater with a portable AC every time the weather changes, and providing ‘four season’ multi-function products delivers on that idea,” he said.

Vendors also noted that true comfort has become a major touch point for consumers, and many look to make their homes not only functional but also pleasurable. Brindle, for example, noted that consumers are investing more in their home today in order to create a space to fully enjoy, relax and even indulge.

“Consumers aren’t afraid to spend a little more for a premium product or brand that they would be proud to use in their homes,” he said. “They want products that reflect their lifestyle, align with their beliefs and deliver great results consistently. In home comfort, they are really trying to enhance the space for better living, whether it’s through better cooling or more controlled heat or even clearing allergens for better breathing.”

Overall, vendors noted that the home comfort category is no longer being driven by entry level models suited to ease consumers into various segments, but evolving to meet the needs of an educated and comfort craving consumer.