Newell Brands and HomePage News teamed for an Innovation Theater session during The Inspired Home Show 2023 that examined how homewares tie into life’s big moments and Newell’s strategy of focusing on key events in consumer lives using its broad range of products to address lifestyle needs.
Peter Giannetti, editor-in-chief of HomePage News hosted a discussion with Sommerly Stern, Newell Brands’ senior director of shopper insights. Newell Brands sponsored the 2023 IHA Occasions Study, presented exclusively by HomePage News earlier this year.
Giannetti pointed out that the detailed consumer study looked at how people are planning to celebrate life occasions throughout the year. Weddings and related events, home purchases, pet ownership, going to college and retirement were key events that the Occasions Study examined. With the COVID-19 pandemic fading, consumers rushed to celebrate such important events especially as so many had been postponed. The headlong rush has peaked but people still attach importance to events and their desire to celebrate with family and friends remains strong even if how they do so may change somewhat from year to year.
“What hasn’t changed is the opportunity for the home and housewares business to connect with these celebrations,” Giannetti said. “It’s not as simple as a gift registry. That’s part of it. But it’s actually taking that moment when you connect with the consumer. Maybe it’s a wedding. That’s the start of it, and now building a relationship with that consumer through all life moments.
“We found that consumers want to buy home and housewares products for these life moments,” Giannetti continued. “ They need them, they want them. Some of it is traditional. It’s a little bit about equipping the first home. But some of it is not so traditional. It’s not always the products you expect them to be. You can think of how cookware as an opportunity for a life moment might integrate with home organization, might integrate even with baby products. There is this connection that makes this a lifestyle-driven relationship not a transactional-driven relationship.”
A central point of the session explored how Newell has reintegrated its approach to the consumer throughout its varied product lines based on its assessment of life events and stages where it can serve the consumer.
Stern (pictured above) said Newell took a fresh look at the marketplace in the company’s place in it. Today, 330 million consumers live in the United States with 128 million households and 84 million that have children under the age of 18. Of U.S. households, around 80% have at least one Newell product under the roof currently, she said.
“What we said is our brands play a key role in the lives of nearly every household, so let’s understand what they need, what their lifestyles are, taking it from the consumer to the humans, and that’s how we came up with the idea of life moments,” Stern noted. “In doing so, we identified 12 life moments.”
Stern said Newell owns iconic brands such as Sharpie, Calphalon and Crockpot, but it could be hard to understand how the portfolio went together. As Newell reconsidered, the company recognized that the power is the portfolio and how the brands go together. Newell can serve major life moments in many ways, Stern said, with products that can help consumers as they go through life events.
One of the 12 life moments highlighted by Newell included off to college, when almost $2,000 dollars is spent by consumers on the move. At that moment, even if they are spending a lot of their parents’ money in addition to their own, they have taken an important step toward becoming independent consumers who are equipping what is, in the circumstances, their first home, Stern noted. It may be a dorm room, but it may need a coffee maker, air purifier and other homey touches. From there, the consumer moves through to first apartment, engagement and wedding.
“We started to look at the top things that are on wedding registries, and it aligned very well with our portfolio,” Stern maintained.
Then there’s getting a first home, welcoming a first child, upgrading a home, expanding family, first day of school, purchasing a second home, empty nesting and grandparenthood. Grandparents spend on average $2,500 on their grandchildren annually, Stern said. Although they are typical life moments, they don’t only happen in the traditional sequence. As such, Newell wants to be ready to step in whenever a person takes a next step whatever that is and create an emotional connection.
“We say take a human-centric approach to what we’re doing and really understand where the consumer is and where they are in their life moments,” Stern said.
Newell looked beyond that to the occasions that surround major life moments as well as annual celebrations, including the various holidays that occur around the calendar.
Newell looked at how its brand portfolio could factor in between occasions. For example, Newell looked at the off-to-college occasion and recognized it had multiple components including high school graduation, the actual back-to-school shopping period, at college when students are filling out, replacing or adding to what they bought previously as they improve their living quarters. Then there’s the opportunity to outfit tailgating weekends and return to college in January when students are making further adjustments to push through winter and the second half of the school year.
The Newell perspective, Giannetti pointed out, demonstrates that the traditional six-week college purchasing occasion is a more expansive opportunity that the housewares industry can target in its full scope.