The World’s Leading Home + Housewares Show

March 2–4, 2025 | McCormick Place | Chicago, IL

The World’s Leading Home + Housewares Show
March 2—4 | McCormick Place | Chicago, IL

Quality is the most important consumer factor in the purchase of home and housewares products, more valuable than price, trust and ratings and reviews, according to a recent study by Springboard Futures.

The results of the first annual Value Equation Index were discussed during the Connect FALL session “All Roads Lead to Home: Shifting Consumer Values and the New Laws of Attraction” by a panel including Tom Mirabile, founder of Springboard Futures; Joe Derochowski, vice president and home industry advisory at The NPD Group; and Leana Salamah, vice president of marketing at the International Housewares Association.

The survey included 14 specific values and asked respondents how the values affected their purchase decisions. The values were: time savings, trust, user experience, quality, product assortment, innovative features/benefits, shopping experience, social responsibility, convenience, price, loyalty rewards, space savings, environmental responsibility and customer reviews.

The top four drivers were quality, trust, price and ratings/reviews. The national survey of more than 1000 respondents was conducted in March and was balanced by age, income and geography. The survey included a 70%/30% female/male split representative of the primary purchaser of home and housewares goods.

According to the survey, 94% of purchasers say quality is important/extremely important when purchasing home and housewares products as compared to 76% for trust, 66% for price and 65% for convenience. Quality was defined as delivers reliable performance, safety, durability, desirable materials and properties and aesthetics.

“When we looked at the survey results, quality came in as 10% more important than trust, 15% more important than price, 17% more important than convenience, 18% more important than ratings & reviews, 20% more important than product assortment and 23% more important than innovative features & benefits,” Mirabile said. “That’s not to say these things aren’t important, all of these things were in the top 14 things that people say are part of the value equation. They were the top 7.”

In discussing the results, Salamah said, “If quality isn’t there, then these other three things are knocked out anyway. If there’s no quality then ratings and reviews don’t matter, if there’s no quality then price doesn’t matter. If there’s no quality, you’ve broken trust in me. None of those other three things can have gravitas if quality isn’t there.”

Mirabile said the pandemic boosted the importance of quality simply because housewares products were used more as people were in lockdown, doing more activities in the home and wanted products to last longer. He said younger generations are resistant to buying products if they suspect such items might end up in a landfill. Quality is most important to Baby Boomers and Gen Xers, he noted.

“Until design and materials can meet that standard or requirement, then quality has to do the heavy lifting,” Mirabile said.

Price — encompassing lower prices, promotions, lower shipping/delivery costs, larger package sizes and improved value — was rated very/extremely important by 65% of home and housewares purchasers in the survey.

Noting the research was done during the pandemic and should be viewed as a timestamp, Salamah addressed the high consumer expectations of shifting previous away-from-home experiences, such as coffee shop visits and spa treatments, into the home.

“We wanted to have those same great experiences and those same high-quality experiences as we had outside the home, so I think the desire to really duplicate those experiences at home and bring the best of the outside into our home, made us a little less price-sensitive over the last year and a half,” she said.

Derochowski said price ranges during the pandemic have widened, and the results say more about the consumer valuing the product more than the price. “This illustrates the point that during tougher economic times, we may see a different answer, but this is really speaking to the essence of the product and the need that it solves for the consumer rather than the price,” he said.

Salamah added that the average consumer doesn’t understand the spectrum of the average price range if they are looking for a product to help them do something on their own, price may not be a primary consideration, she said. It’s about experiences and lifestyle and that is “where you can convince people to pay more,” Salamah said.

Trust is defined by credibility, reliability, authenticity and commitment to delivering value. When asked how important is trust when choosing a home and housewares retailer and brand, 82% of survey respondents identified trust as “very/extremely important,” making it even more important than price.

“When trust pops ahead of price, it tells you something,” Mirabile said.

Derochowski agreed trust is critical. “You want to make sure you feel confident in what you are buying at that time and part of that equation is trust,” he said. “That’s why I think it is essential that retailers and suppliers, right now, this year and next year, (must be) brand building tied to the needs that the consumer has because we can use this to set ourselves up for success for the rest of the decade. Trust is a critical piece, and part of it is being able to speak to the consumer in their language (about) what is important to them.”

Ratings and reviews offer opinions and evaluations from two perspectives: consumer reviews and trusted opinions; and objective experts and unbiased sources, such as Good Housekeeping and Consumer Reports.

A poll of attendees listening to the session asked which sources did consumers trust the most with these results:

  • Friends and family: 52%
  • Internet and websites, including Google, Amazon, brand websites: 18%
  • Review sites: including Consumer Reports and category-specific sites: 16%
  • Social media: 13%

According to the Springboard Futures Value Equation Index survey, customer reviews were more important than expert/independent reviews when choosing housewares products.

NPD’s Derochowski said that for many years consumers believed in products endorsed or marketed by celebrities. “We wanted to be like Mike,” he said referencing Michael Jordan athletic shoes from Nike. But now, he explained, consumers realize such endorsements are business deals, and the celebrities might not truly support the product, he explained.

“Consumers want somebody who is authentic and a true voice on the review. That is why friends and family rate higher,” Derochowski said.

IHA’s Salamah added that while consumers feel better when a product has more reviews, they are skeptical of consistent 5.0 ratings. “Nothing’s perfect all the time, but if they see a 4.7 that feels authentic, feels believable,” she said.

Springboard’s Mirabile noted that “based on analysis of seven million reviews of home products, the reviews that are the most helpful are the ones with the low ratings. One- and two-star ratings are deemed the most helpful by consumers.”

“All consumers are worried about buyer’s remorse,” Derochowski added. “But reviews are helping to support that confidence that you aren’t going to make a mistake if you buy the product.”