Key trends from the International Home + Housewares Show
Trend-hunting is a huge drawcard for attendees of any trade fair. We’ll deliver the goods, but before you start noting down products to order, take heed of this warning from Michael Prince, president of Beyond Design, who gave a presentation on ecommerce at the show.
Asked for trends to watch in 2018, Prince replied that consumers are overwhelmed at the volume of disposable, trend-led goods in what’s perceived as a flooded homewares market.
“Never in the history of the course of consumerism have consumers cared less about the product than they do now.”
Consumers are now seeking emotional reasons to buy, he says: “The goal is to attract consumers who believe in the same goals as you.”
Prince says retailers should not simply be searching for trendy products, but seek out stockists with coherent, values-based messaging. If one product is much like another and priced the same, he says, the consumer will default to that made by the company they like the most.
“All products equal, it’s the company that can connect with the consumer, not the product, and that can make all the difference.”
He believes retailers should have a clear purpose, and invest in brand-building to share that purpose with the customer. The days of simply selling a product are over, Prince says.
“If you’re not telling the world why you exist, you’re wasting their breath.”
And without further ado, here’s those trends.
Hydration. According to show publication, Home + Housewares Inspiration, the hydration craze is driven by consumer desire to reduce plastic waste from single-use water bottles and a focus on healthy living. Popular products include Dopper, Hydaway and S’well.
Spiralising and vegetable preparation tools. The continuing popularity of these items stems from an ongoing focus on ‘eco’ and ‘wellness’ values, a serious driver for the whole of the housewares industry. These values are behind an increased interest in healthy eating and entertaining at home, according to Inside America’s Kitchen, an audit on kitchen trends conducted by The NPD Group.
“The move towards fresh or clean eating has had an impact on how kitchens are equipped and set up today. Pantries are stocked differently, and kitchen appliances, cookware, technology and tools are evolving to make fresh food prep and cooking more convenient and foolproof.”
Consumer trend forecaster Tom Mirabile sees the health and wellness movement as extending across almost every category, giving retailers “layers of potential product-selling” tools spanning home gardening and cookware to smart products and waste-reduction devices.
Multi-cookers. An electronically-controlled pressure cooker named the Instant Pot is the latest kitchen gadget fad in America, inspiring what The Guardian has described as “mass devotion”. The NPD Group reports sales of similar multi-cooker devices increased 79 percent as of the 12 months ending November 2017 to more than $300 million, driven by consumers’ desire for convenience and healthy home cooking.
IOT-enabled labour savers. Amazon has yet to fully hit New Zealand, meaning any local uptake of artificially-intelligent personal assistants such as Alexa and smart devices linked to them remains a little pointless. However, there’s still a world of lesser Internet of Things products to explore – products to note include the TasteTro Spice System which blends spices to order based on a recipe database; and a smart oven by US-based Tovala, which is paired with a complementary meal kit service. Customers need only to scan a barcode on their meal, then put it in the oven.
Mirabile says smart products are all about taking the drudgery out of mundane tasks and giving people what they want, when they want it. “We’re going back to basics,” he says. “It’s still all about finding solutions for people.
Elevated essentials. While many chores are being eliminated through smart home devices, some of those which remain are being transformed into opportunities for mindfulness through better product design. Trend Bible’s Helen Jamieson says consumers are finding more efficient, enjoyable ways to clean, and manufacturers are coming out with ranges of natural, eco-friendly products which “look more like something you would find in a beauty store than the cleaning aisle” to support this. Products which caught our eye included Woolzies essential oils combo packs and Nellie’s Lamby Wool Dryerballs, made from New Zealand wool.
Pantone’s Ultra Violet, the 2018 colour of the year. Lee Eiseman, color expert for the IHA, says colour trends are affected by the world around us, noting that the healthy eating trend has brought with it a movement towards featuring “natural, earthy” colours on packaging and products. Conversely, Ultra Violet evokes “originality, ingenuity and visionary thinking”, Eiseman says.
“Ultra Violet is a color that is evocative. It’s very meaningful – it embraces both red and blue, and hey, we live in a complex world. It is also about non-conformity – that should be celebrated, don’t you think?”
Living well in smaller spaces. Jamieson says that as population density increases all over the world, cities are becoming crowded and smaller homes are more desirable. . The homewares design world is adapting to this change, producing more items which are multifunctional, such as a two-in-one ironing board and mirror.
Additionally, consumers increasingly want to change the feel of their spaces to reflect shifts in their use. Jamieson has noticed products like the Moodo smart aromatherapy diffuser emerging to allow this.
This list was compiled using direct observations, plus reports from Liz Oldfield of Milly’s Kitchen; consumer trend forecaster for the International Housewares Association and senior vice president of global trend and design for Lifetime Brands Tom Mirabile; Helen Jamieson of Trend Bible UK; Lee Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute and color expert for the International Housewares Association; and material from the International Housewares Association.