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March 7, 2022

Evolving Consumer Value Equation Revealed at The Inspired Home Show

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The consumer value equation is changing quickly after two years of economic and social uncertainty, and it is fluid across generations, said Tom Mirabile, principal of Springboard Futures, and Leigh Ann Schwarzkopf, founder of Project Partners Network, in a keynote address Monday at The Inspired Home Show 2022.

The session featured the 2022 Value Equation Index – brand-new research highlighting the most important elements influencing consumers’ purchases of home and housewares products today.  The survey was commissioned by Mirabile and Schwarzkopf, along with Michelle Lamb of The Trend Curve.

“Consumers are moving so quickly right now that sometimes the consumer value equation changes overnight,” Mirabile said. As such, he added, it is important to inform the industry about new developments and stay nimble enough to act on them quickly.

The 2022 national-sample survey, which was collected just a week ago, offers a comparison to a similar survey last year.

 

Mirabile and Schwarzkopf highlighted five key consumer motivating factors measured by the 2022 Value Equation Index:

Convenience

When it comes to convenience, the duo is tracking what they called “Endemic Urgency.”

“Everything’s an emergency now,” Mirabile said. Pandemic-level services have become expected as the baseline, and the value of in-stock items is elevated. “Consumers are tired of the supply chain issue,” he added. “It doesn’t matter to them that it’s still an issue (for the industry).”

The idea of the “endless aisle” may be losing favor among consumers. Mirabile and Schwarzkopf recommend the housewares industry manage consumer expectations with honesty, only offering products that can be delivered in a timely fashion.

 

Price

Price, according to the survey, is less important to consumers today than last year. In 2022, 47% of respondents said price was extremely or very important when considering the purchase of a home or housewares product. That number is down from 66% in 2021.

Mirabile said stabilizing job and economic outlooks explain some of the shifting price value. Erratic retail promotions and supply uncertainty have also changed consumers’ perspectives on price in the last year, Schwarzkopf added. Some consumers prefer to wait for pricing promotions, while others prefer to pay full price to get something when they need it or when it becomes available.

“The current environment on pricing offers a clean slate,” Mirabile said.

 

Trust

As the importance of trust grows, more strategic efforts to deliver and enhance trust are crucial, the presenters agreed. Brands and licenses help shorten the timeline for developing consumer trust, Schwarzkopf added.

The importance of brand was ranked high across generations. Only 14% of Gen Z, 11% of Millennials, 10% of Gen X and 6% of Baby Boomers said it was not important.

People often generalize younger generations, especially Millennials, don’t care about brand, Schwarzkopf pointed out. “The striking thing (the research shows) is that brand matters to all generations,” she said.

Data privacy, safety and security are increasingly important trust factors, according to the survey. The topic is extremely or very important to cultivating trust among 78% of respondents.

“This is where you can lose consumer trust very quickly,” said Mirabile, adding that broken trust usually lasts forever.

 

Quality

Quality influences consumers’ perceptions of trust, brand and price, and 86% of respondents rated quality as extremely or very important.

Quality is the number one driver of good and bad online reviews, Mirabile noted. “Over 90% of reviews are driven by comments about high quality or lack of quality,” he said.

Durability (59%) and reliable performance (57%) were the overwhelming top two considerations when consumers evaluate a product’s quality. Millennials and Gen Z highly value durability for its waste-mitigating eco-friendliness, Mirabile said.

 

Lifestyle Benefits

Lifestyle benefits outside of the primary function of the product – such as a storage system that helps create a sense of calm and wellbeing – are becoming increasingly important to consumers.

The top lifestyle benefits cited by respondents were inspiring time with family and friends (46%), promoting physical wellness (43%), enhancing emotional health (37%), cultivating new skills (28%), fostering creativity (22%) and creating sharing opportunities (13%).

Among different generation, generations, inspiring time with family and friends rated highest with Millennials (53%). “It’s interesting to point out that the people who are most interested in socializing with family and friends are the ones who still need to buy (home and housewares goods),” Schwarzkopf said.

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