The housewares business thrives as a business that creates simple solutions to everyday problems.
And the business is reminded from time to time it is well-positioned to provide the ointment for problems that reach uncomfortable levels beyond your ordinary dirty floors, wrinkled clothes, cluttered closets or stuck-on eggs.
Someone’s bad fortune can be good for business.
The home environment appliance business understands this perhaps better than any other segment under the broader housewares umbrella. Already elevated concerns about indoor air and water quality often are inflamed by disheartening news of public contamination, propelling sales surges of air and water treatment products.
The water filtration category has been driven the past several years as much by taste, odor and environmental factors as overt personal health worries. But the category found itself immersed in another water safety crisis following the recent leaded-water outbreak in Flint, MI.
ZeroWater moved quickly with a campaign to donate its water filtering pitchers to the Flint community. Water filter suppliers say the category’s retail sales have jumped not just around the epicenter of the outbreak but also across the country as increased water quality awareness converts into more preemptive water filter sales (see story, page 3, of the April 25, 2016, issue).
Meanwhile, air cleaner suppliers say the category saw increased online search activity and retail sales following a March 2015 “60 Minutes” report that some laminate flooring produced in China and sold by Lumber Liquidators contained excessive formaldehyde levels.
A study released in March by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard revealed nearly half of homeowners are concerned or unsure about the health of their home environment, with indoor air quality cited as the top anxiety, followed by water quality. The study also revealed that homeowners want to take action, but they believe they lack trustworthy, clear and accurate information.
This is the core of the continuing opportunity for retail air and water treatment products. Marketers must be nimble enough to respond swiftly to isolated outbreaks that might stoke wide-scale attention and concern while sustaining higher awareness and sales levels with year-round campaigns that promote with clarity, credibility and consistency the full scope of a product’s benefits.
There is nothing wrong with opportunistically capitalizing on an alarming situation as long as the products presented are verifiably effective and the communication is honest and helpful.
It is true someone’s bad fortune can be good for business. When the problem leads to a meaningful solution, it also can be good for so much more.