It’s a new year, but the core consumer needs haven’t changed. Key life moments, like buying a new home, getting married, and retiring will still be key drivers as consumers continue to aspire to a more healthy lifestyle, and spend more time eating and entertaining in the home.  2019 will be another good year for the home industry, but the growth rate will likely begin to slow – in the 2.5 to 4 percent range. It is up to us to find new ways to keep the positive momentum going throughout the year ahead.

The good thing for our industry is that the consumer still has their focus on in-home activities, and we know what their top priorities are. But, just because consumers are looking for ‘more of the same’ in terms of their overarching desires, doesn’t mean they will be inspired by the same products, features, and engagement that they saw last year. The challenge our industry faces this year is providing the consumer with something fresh to address their fundamental needs and desires.

We have a broad range of health-based opportunities in front of us. Oral care, hair care, and kitchen prep solutions for fruits, vegetables, and more homemade meals are the usual suspects. But, we can play a bigger role in making the home a more healthy environment overall through things like natural bedding materials, floor care, and air purification. The 38 percent dollar sales growth robotic vacuums saw in 2018 demonstrates the consumer’s interest in convenience – adding health-focused messaging and features could further boost this category**. Bedding, which grew less than one percent this past year, would benefit from an emphasis on true health and environmental benefits – adding another level of value for the consumer, beyond just a refreshed look***.

Categories like chocolate fountains and fondue sets are growing, with dollar sales up 27 percent and 9 percent respectively**. Beyond the basics of food preparation and serving options, we can get creative in helping people create new experiences – inspiring ‘insta’-worthy moments – to be shared with family and friends. This kind of approach could extend our reach and stimulate even more engagement.

The way we communicate with consumers is as important as the products we produce for them. This is especially true as we face new realities related to the impact of tariffs on our industry, and what that means for costs. According to NPD’s Eating Patterns in America, 82 percent of meals are prepared in-home, and consumers spent more than $6 billion on small kitchen appliances and housewares products last year to help with that preparation, a 4 percent increase from 2017*. Even as the industry’s costs may increase, in-home do-it-yourself (DIY) solutions still provide a cost-saving value to consumers when compared to out-of-home do-it-for-me (DIFM) alternatives.

We need energize and reinvigorate consumers and the way they think so ‘more of the same’ doesn’t become the ‘same old thing’ – both a challenge and an opportunity.

Source: The NPD Group / Retail Tracking Service, 52 weeks ending December 1,
Source: The NPD Group / Retail Tracking Service, 52 weeks ending December 29,
Source: The NPD Group / Checkout, January-November 18