Home ‘Now Normal’ Value Equation in Constant Flux
June 3, 2021
‘Now Normal’ Value Equation in Constant Flux

By Debbie Teschke

Contributing Editor

The value equation is in constant evolution as factors influencing consumers’ purchase decisions changed during the pandemic, and some, such as online shopping, were expedited by it, said Tom Mirabile, principal and founder, Springboard Futures, in his keynote “The Now Normal: Creating Value Amid Chaos.”

Once more tangible — factoring such attributes as price, brand and durability — the value equation is now more nuanced, complicated and in some cases by generational differences, he explained.

What creates value for the home + housewares consumer? Mirabile presented the results of a national consumer survey conducted by Springboard Futures in collaboration with Leigh Ann Schwartzkopf of Project Partners Network and Pamela Danziger of Unity Marketing. The survey asked about 14 areas affecting purchase behavior. He focused on three value areas.

Shopping Values – Why Do Consumers Buy

  • Price – While consumer sentiment is increasingly optimistic, most don’t expect finances to return to normal until late 2021 or 2022, prompting value-based behaviors, Mirabile said. “Value” was cited as the top reason for consumers to shop at a new retailer, store or website. When shopping for home or housewares products, 65% of respondents identified price as very or extremely important; 97% when including respondent who said it is somewhat important.
    • “Price still lives at the core of today’s value equation. That’s why a consumer-centric approach is so critical and so successful,” Mirabile said. “When retailers and suppliers know how consumers are living, what they need and want, what their discomforts are, you can truly serve them. When you understand all that, you can truly be their hero.”
  • Convenience – This has never been more important in the value equation. Mobility and e-commerce have ensured its ascent over the last decade. With the pandemic, convenience became indispensable to house-bound consumers, Mirabile said, and the immediate availability of products and services is at the core of all that convenience represents. On the survey, 99% of respondents said convenience was important.
  • Shopping Experience – Consumers expect a harmonized, intuitive experience across all channels. Technologies that deliver speed and simplicity have become differentiators. Fifty percent of all shoppers said customer service is a deciding factor when choosing whether to do business with a brand, Mirabile said. Millennials are more likely than other generations to switch brands because of bad customer service, he added. The shopping experience is more important to millennials (42%) versus boomers (19%).

Corporate Values – Where Do You Buy

  • Brand Trust – Brands are trusted for their ability, integrity, dependability, purpose and connection to the consumer’s sense of self, Mirabile said. Trust is one of the drivers that was most consistently rated extremely or very important across generations and incomes. Trust is about the retailer and brand’s credibility, reliability, authenticity and their commitment to delivering value to their customers, he added.
  • Product Assortment – Having the “right” assortments is a differentiator attracting consumers to traditional and digital channels. For brick-and-mortar retailers, assortment challenges have become more nuanced, Mirabile said. Getting consumers comfortable to go back into stores will take time, and during this period it is important for retailers and suppliers to show customers the assortments they want available the way they want them, he added. Product assortment was more important to Gen X and boomers than to millennials.
  • Social Responsibility – Purchasing decisions are increasingly based on values such as social responsibility. Consumers will go to social media to find out a retailer or brand’s stance, they won’t ask them directly, Mirabile said. Does the retailer, brand or manufacturer support diversity, inclusion and human rights, behaving ethically and responsibly? Transparency about social responsibility is extremely important, he said.
  • Environmental Responsibility – Consumers are establishing a mandate for transparency and accountability at every phase of execution from development to distribution and disposal. Companies must think responsibly about the life cycles of their products and how they can leverage industry partnerships to co-create meaningful change, Mirabile said.

Product Values – What Do You Buy?

  • Space Savings – Because of the pandemic, the home virtually overnight became the ultimate and essential hub, transforming functionalities from family space to workplace, gym, classroom, conference room, yoga studio, social space, sanctuary and fortress. The duration of the pandemic has resulted in consumer investment in housewares and home interior, with a focus on minimal use of space and maximum functionality, Mirabile said.
  • Quality – Quality builds trust between brands and consumers, and many companies fail at building trust because they don’t connect with their customers when it comes to products, Mirabile said. He reported 95% of survey respondents indicated that quality is very/extremely important, higher than price. Survey responses by generation showed an unexpected variance between Gen Z (76%) and boomers (94%) in importance of quality, he said.

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