As 2017 heads toward the fourth quarter and the all-important holiday selling season, American consumers are continuing to search for housewares products that offer versatility and convenience, allow them to eat healthier, make it easier to cook and utilize smart technology.
“The home industry is in a growth phase for the next 5 to 10 years and it is the best growth phase since the 1970s,” said Joe Derochowski, home industry analyst for The NPD Group Inc. “In the nine weeks leading up to Christmas in 2016, no industry grew faster than housewares. It is a very hot industry and it is going to stay hot.”
Derochowski noted U.S. demographics are favorable for the housewares industry. “The life stages that are growing are hitting key moments, such as first marriage, first home, remodeling, retirement and empty nesters. Mathematically it is impossible for the industry not to grow,” he said.
In addition, he said the demographic groups that are growing are all interested in the three main trends influencing housewares sales – healthy eating, convenience and entertaining at home.
Four of the top nine growing housewares categories in terms of sales to date in 2017 are portable beverageware, cookware, fryers and multi-functional cookers. Derochowski said categories such as portable beverageware and air fryers are experiencing growth because consumers are interested in healthier eating while categories such as multicookers are popular because consumers want products that provide versatility as well as speed and convenience.
Fueled by the trend toward healthy living, portable beverageware was the top-selling category in the first six months this year, Derochowski said.
One of the newest products in this category is Lifetime Brands Inc.’s BUILT 17-oz. Perfect Seal Bottle. The product can help consumers who are looking to stay hydrated and drink more water while on the go. The stainless steel, double-wall vacuum sealed construction helps maintain the temperature of cold beverages for up to 24 hours and hot beverages for up to 6 hours. The Perfect Seal cap is leak- and spill-proof.
Carley Knobloch, a smart home expert, noted the portable beverageware category is becoming more competitive as companies embrace smart home technology. For example, she noted some hydration products now allow the consumer to connect the water bottle to a fitness tracker so consumers can monitor their daily water intake.
The hydration trend will be spotlighted in a new pre-Show event at the 2018 International Home + Housewares Show in Chicago, USA. Sixty exhibitors with hydration and hydration-related products will feature their products in the Trending Today Preview on Saturday, March 10, from 8:00 – 10:00 a.m. in Room S100, South Building, Level 1, McCormick Place. The event is open exclusively to buyers and news media, and will run concurrently with the New Exhibitor Preview before the Show opens that morning.
Highlighting the trend toward healthier eating is the Digital Nutritional Scale by Component Design Northwest Inc. (CDN). The scale, which targets health conscious consumers, displays nutritional data along with units of measure. It comes with food codes that can be entered to generate information on calories, sodium, protein, fat, carbohydrates, cholesterol and fiber, and also performs traditional scale functions. According to CDN, the product’s features tie in with current trends, such as an increased awareness of health consequences of ingredient choices as well as the trend toward cooking more at home rather than eating out.
Convenience and versatility are key selling points for many consumers since they are interested in saving time and effort. Hamilton Beach Brands Inc.’s Personal Oatmeal Maker can be used to make breakfast items such as regular or steel-cut oats, cream of wheat, grits and more. It can also be used to cook rice or other grains, making it versatile to use for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
The Smart Organic Multi-Crocks N’ Stock Pot by Essenergy combines natural unglazed clay cooking with multi-function digital variable crockery cooking. It performs as a fast-slow cooker, steamer, slow cooker, stock pot, hot cereal maker, warmer, yogurt maker or low-temperature cooker. The natural unglazed clay vessel cooks foods four times faster and preserves essential nutrients and vitamins.
While the trend toward smart home products is in the beginning stages, Derochowski said this trend is here to stay. The housewares industry needs to evolve from products that are technology driven to products that solve consumer’s frustrations with technology, he said.
Voice-controlled products are among the top five trends for smart home products, according to HomeAdvisor.com. Personal home assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home highlight this trend.
“Being able to talk to your appliances in the kitchen is not only super-hot, but especially handy in the kitchen,” said Knobloch. She noted it is particularly helpful when working in the kitchen and your hands are full since the consumer can turn on an appliance with the sound of their voice.
According to CNBC.com, 80 million smart home devices, such as personal home assistants, smart home thermostats, smoke detectors, smart locks and video doorbells, were delivered globally in 2016, a 64 percent increase from the prior year. This trend is expected to continue climbing this year and is predicted to reach 130 million.
Another smart home trend influencing the kitchen is assisted cooking. Knobloch noted products such as a sous-vide appliance or a steam oven that can be controlled with an app helps the consumer “take the guess work out of cooking.” She noted it is convenient for both experienced chefs and novices since the user can “hand over the controls” to the app so it helps cook foods to perfection.
Behmor, Inc. has introduced the Behmor Connected Brewer, which allows users to control their brewing by remotely controlling the temperature, pre-soak and brewing volume time to find the brightness, sweetness or flavor highlights the consumer prefers.