After two years of economic and social uncertainty, the consumer value equation is changing quickly and is very fluid across generations, said Tom Mirabile, principal of Springboard Futures, and Leigh Ann Schwarzkopf, founder of Project Partners Network, in a keynote address at The Inspired Home Show 2022.
The session featured the 2022 Value Equation Index—brand new research highlighting the most important elements influencing consumers’ purchases of home and housewares products today. The survey was commissioned by Mirabile and Schwarzkopf, along with Michelle Lamb of The Trend Curve.
“Consumers are moving so quickly right now that sometimes the consumer value equation changes overnight,” said Mirabile. That’s why, he says, it’s important to make sure the industry is aware of new developments and stays nimble enough to act on them quickly.
The 2022 national sample, which was collected just a week before the Show, offers a comparison to a similar survey last year.
When it comes to convenience, the duo is tracking what they called “Endemic Urgency.”
“Everything’s an emergency now,” said Mirabile. Pandemic-level services have become expected as the baseline, and the value of in-stock items is elevated. “Consumers are tired of the supply chain issue,” he added. “It doesn’t matter to them that it’s still an issue (for the industry).”
For that reason, the time for the “endless aisle” may have come to an end. The duo recommend that the housewares industry manage consumer expectations with honesty, only offering products that can be delivered in a timely fashion.
Price appears to be less important to consumers today than last year. In 2022, 47% of respondents said price was extremely or very important when considering the purchase of a home or housewares product. That number is down from 66% in 2021.
That’s partly because people’s jobs or economic outlooks are more stable than a year ago.
But erratic retail promotions and supply uncertainty have also changed consumers’ perspectives on price in the last year, said Schwarzkopf. Some consumers prefer to wait for pricing promotions, while others prefer to pay full price to get something when they need it or when it becomes available.
“The current environment on pricing offers a clean slate,” said Mirabile.
As the importance of trust grows, more strategic efforts to deliver and enhance trust are crucial, Mirabile and Schwarzkopf said. Brands and licenses shorten the timeline for developing consumer trust.
When evaluating the importance of brand, all four generations ranked it consistently high. Only 14% of Gen Z, 11% of Millennials, 10% of Gen X and 6% of Boomers said it was not important.
People tend to think that younger generations, especially Millennials, don’t care about brand, Schwarzkopf pointed out. But “the striking thing (the research shows) is that brand matters to all generations.”
An ever-growing component of trust has to do with data privacy, safety and security. The topic is extremely or very important to developing their trust, according to 78% of respondents.
“This is where you can lose consumer trust very quickly,” said Mirabile, adding that broken trust usually lasts forever.
Quality is a value that influences consumers’ perceptions of trust, brand and price, and 86% of respondents rated quality as extremely or very important.
Quality is the No. 1 driver of good and bad online reviews. “Over 90% of reviews are driven by comments about high quality or lack of quality,” said Mirabile.
Durability (59%) and reliable performance (57%) were the overwhelming top two considerations when consumers evaluate a product’s quality. For Millennials and Gen Z, durability also is important because it means less discarded products in landfills, Mirabile explained.
Lifestyle benefits outside of the primary function of product—say a storage system that helps create a sense of calm and well-being—are becoming increasingly popular with today’s consumers.
The top lifestyle benefits cited by respondents were inspiring time with family and friends (46%), promoting physical wellness (43%), enhancing emotional health (37%), cultivating new skills (28%), fostering creativity (22%) and creating sharing opportunities (13%).
Of the different generations, inspiring time with family and friends rated highest with Millennials (53%). Schwarzkopf added, “It’s interesting to point out that the people who are most interested in socializing with family and friends are the ones who still need to buy (home and housewares goods).”
Get Ready for The Inspired Home Show 2023!
March 4-7, 2023