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

The International Housewares Association previewed a new report on the connection between key life occasions and housewares purchasing during a Connect FALL education session.  

Leana Salamah, IHA’s vice president, marketing, and Peter Giannetti, editor in chief, HomePage News, discussed the Occasions report, commissioned by IHA and HomePage News, that will be released later this year.  

The report is based on a survey conducted in early September of 2,200 adults nationwide, measuring their expectations on life events in 2022 for themselves, as well as for friends and family. For each event type, the survey identified tendencies and preferences related to home and housewares product purchases.  

Salamah and Giannetti reviewed topline findings for home-dwelling (new homes or rentals) and new pet ownership, weddings, baby showers, going to college and retirement.  

Giannetti explained it is easy from a product development marketing standpoint to zero in on each life occasion individually and the opportunity each offers, but he believes it is better to look at this as a continuum from a merchandising opportunity and a marketing opportunity. “This is an opportunity to engage a lifelong customer by understanding how they go through each of these life events,” he said. 

“In 2020 we were down something like 300,000 births from past years,” Salamah added. “New pet ownership went up dramatically. Things that have changed in life during the pandemic. We’re seeking to benchmark and understand how they will be going forward.” 

The two most likely events to take place over the next year regardless of age, gender, geography and income are new home dwelling and new pet acquisition, Salamah said. “The obvious response is this is a continuum of what we’ve seen over the pandemic period of the last year and a half, coming up on two years, where people are seeking out new places to live as they look for more space for the ability to work from home or school from home,” she explained. 

Giannetti said the pandemic changed how people looked at their homes and brought a move away from the city, with consumers getting bigger homes with more space for offices and other stay-at-home activities, he said. 

“A lot has been happening in the suburbs,” he added. “More space brings more needs for household products. Will it be growing at the same rate as the last 18, 19 months? No, but we’re expecting the new home (activity) to extend.”  

All the events measured were disproportionally likely to take place in the Northeast region in 2022, the report showed. This result especially spiked in relation to new homes, baby showers and bridal showers/weddings, Salamah said, speculating that higher COVID vaccination rates in the region may play a factor. 

“Of those nine (Northeast) states, eight are in the top 10 in terms of vaccination rates,” she said. “It may be appropriate to assume that those people in the northeast have a disproportionate sense of confidence in their ability to gather and move on and see life coming back to normal.” 

“As we head into 2022, I think that appetite will be manifested into a real zeal to optimize the occasion and the celebration,” Giannetti added.  

The report also showed that across the board cash and gift cards account for most expected purchases related to life occasions. 

“Housewares retailers and manufacturers have to step in and say, ‘how are we going to push that redemption sooner than later into the home and housewares business’,” Giannetti said. He added gift registry completion is a big opportunity confronting the housewares industry.  

Salamah said no single housewares category dominated buying preferences for any one event.  

In relation to what new pet owners would likely purchase, typical pet products fell behind home environment and cleaning products. “It’s not just getting them a dog collar or cute little serving bowl. It’s also about getting them an air purifier that takes care of allergens or a rug cleaner,” Salamah explained. “It’s an important opportunity in the home environment category and the cleaning category to think about how to capitalize on all this new pet ownership.” 

Giannetti noted that organization products were on the top of the purchase likelihood list for retirement.  

“It was very revealing that as you move into that stage of life… You want to figure out a way to get rid of the clutter, organize the clutter, downsize your clutter,” he said.  “We spend a lot of time talking about how to get new consumers or younger consumers into the mix, but you can’t forget that people are retiring to live now…Take advantage of understanding what retirement means now. It’s not the end of life, it’s the start of a new life.” 


Key data points were shared for weddings, baby showers and leaving for college, with results showing higher age groups expecting these life moments than in the past. 

Weddings Expected in 2022 (self) 

Very likely and somewhat likely: 

  • Age 18-23: 13% 
  • Age 24-29: 19% 
  • Age 30-34: 39% 
  • Age 35-44: 23% 
  • Age 45-64:  11% 
  • Age 65+:       7% 

Salamah said it’s not surprising that the average wedding age is rising, but she didn’t expect such a concentrating in 30-44 age range. It was noted how couples marrying at older ages often own most household basics, and the marketing opportunity may be different than that for those getting married younger and for the first time. 

Baby Showers expected in 2022 (self) 

  • Age 18-23: 18% 
  • Age 24-29: 18% 
  • Age 30-34: 42% 
  • Age 35-44: 22% 
  • Age 45-64: 7% 
  • Age 65+: 6% 

“If you’re getting married later then it’s natural that you’ll have children later in life, and, again, the industry needs to understand how that changes their needs and their wants,” Giannetti noted. 

Leaving for College – folks who expect to leave for college next year: 

  • Age 18-23: 32% 
  • Age 24-29: 12% 
  • Age 30-34: 28% 
  • Age 35-44: 16% 
  • Age 45-64: 5% 
  • Age 65+: 2% 


Salamah and Giannetti expressed surprise that the percentage of 18-23-year-olds wasn’t higher and suggested might be attributed to student “gap” years, financial issues or attending community colleges before heading to full-time universities. Many collegegoers in the 30-34-year-old group may be getting higher education from home.  

“Back to school or off to school is not a one-size-fits-all merchandising and marketing opportunity,” Giannetti said. “And if you get to know your potential consumer at this stage of their life and you can stay with them through each of these life moments.”