Key Takeaways from the Houseware Show 2015

In the homewares arena, emerging markets show the greatest potential for growth in 2015 and beyond while growth in developed markets has stagnated. Euromonitor International’s Head of Home and Garden research, Cruz del Barrio, presented on homewares trends and opportunities around the world at the 2015 International Home + Housewares Show which took place in Chicago from March 7th through March 10th. Del Barrio highlighted an ongoing occurrence where emerging markets show the greatest potential for growth in 2015 and beyond while growth in developed markets has stagnated.

Del Barrio spoke about the inverse relationship between current regional expenditure per household and forecasted regional growth for homewares. Essentially growth opportunities for homewares can be divided into two contrasting regions: 1) developed markets composed of North America, Australasia, and Western Europe with struggling property markets, uncertain economic situations, ageing population and distribution networks that are saturated; and 2) emerging markets, namely Asia Pacific, Latin America, Middle East, and Africa, with buoyant housing markets, strong social mobility, young populations, and growth in multiple retailers. While value sales of homewares have stagnated in the developed markets where there is already high household expenditure on homewares, there is higher growth potential in emerging markets where expenditure per household remains low.

New home ownership is one of the main driving forces behind sales of homewares. China, with its booming housing construction, is leading growth in homewares while many other housing markets continue to recover from the recession. Stovetop cookware in particular is benefiting with over 2% growth in Asia Pacific. Meanwhile ovenware has experienced negligible growth in this region, due to the low penetration rate of 0.1% of ovens in Chinese households.

Though growth will be static over the next five years in developed markets, these markets still account for 48% of global value sales. Del Barrio concluded by explaining that to compete in markets where homewares growth has stagnated, companies must innovate and create added value. Many examples of such innovation and added value could be seen throughout the International Home + Houseware show.

The importance of both form and function

Counter space and storage space in kitchens is often limited resulting in the demand for multi-functional products and simple storage solutions. Some examples seen at the IH+HS include the takook rice cookers that simultaneously cooks an entrée, the GE Café Series refrigerator with Keurig K-Cup Brewing system which saves counter space, and Reo Scrape & Whisk Spatula with incorporates a spatula on one end and whisk on the other.

Equally important is design. The kitchen is part of the living space and in today’s open concept living arrangements homewares must be beautiful in addition to being functional. If an item occupies premium counter space, consumers want the object to fit in with their décor. Bold colours were seen throughout the IH+HS on everything from kitchen utensils, to stovetop and ovenware, to tableware and appliances. Retro designs were everywhere. Some examples include Libbey Glass’s re-launch of their classic cut glass patterns and Aladdin’s Chip & Dip Set.

Catering to customers’ healthy lifestyles

Functionality must meet customer’s lifestyles. One lifestyle trend that has persisted is health and wellness, which impacts not only the food people eat, but also how it is prepared and stored.  In terms of storage, consumers are looking for products that safely store food and reduce environmental impact. Innovations in storage seen at the IH+HS include Snapware Total Solution Glass with inserts (Pyrex glass containers with either a tray to keep fruit and vegetables fresh or a steamer basket) and Blue Avocado’s (re)zip reusable storage bags with a double-lock seal.

Health conscious consumers are also looking for ways to drink more water. The Thermos Smart Lid Hydration Bottle works with a smartphone app to monitor and encourage water consumption. This smart water bottle was one of many products featuring connectivity.

The rise of connectivity

In our highly connected lives, the next logical step is bringing that connectivity into the kitchen. Throughout the IH+HS new Wi-Fi enabled small appliances were visible promoting the Internet of Things. These appliances offer the promise of more convenience and confidence in the kitchen by allowing consumers to program devices, view recipes and grocery lists via mobile apps, and sync devices to specific recipes. A few examples include the Black & Decker iConnect Snooze & Brew Coffee Maker and Blendtec’s Connect Food Preparation System. It remains to be seen whether these connected appliances offer enough added value in consumers’ minds to justify a price premium.