Tracking Millennial Buying Preferences Key To Predicting Housewares Demand
The key to understanding the direction of trends in housewares demand today and in the future is to understand the behaviors, habits, and buying preferences of the Millennial generation. This generation will be the next group that will have buying power as they form new households, complete with kitchens and likely even children. I believe this kick starts the cycle of increased demand for housewares as this demographic begins the process of outfitting their homes with the equipment necessary to prepare and serve meals as well as entertaining friends and family.
I do believe that there will be a boost in demand, but the items that will be demanded will not necessarily be the same products that kept our industry riding high into the new millennium. I look around for clues by noticing how demand is driving trends in other areas of the consumer economy. If you look at the automobile industry for example, we are going to experience an onslaught of new electric automobiles from a variety of manufacturers this year. Many are saying that this will be THE YEAR of the electric automobile. I have no doubt that the auto industry expects that the Millennial generation will make up the largest percentage, in the beginning, of new electric vehicle purchases. This generation is very conscious of their environmental footprint, and they understand that climate change is a real problem that could continue to plague the world if action is not taken. These consumers make the connection between reduced automobile emissions and a “cleaner” environment, and are willing to spend their money to that end.
Turning to food preferences, in the specialty food industry plant based foods are all the rage right now, and there is significant capital being invested in creating new and more enticing protein replacement for traditional animal proteins. The strength of the demand is not necessarily and indication that Millennials will become vegetarians. But, it does show that this demographic is very aware of their health, and understand how food choices can improve their well-being. In fact the food industry has adopted a new term, flexotarian, to describe the eating habits of this group of consumers. They are also familiar with the impact that the production of animal protein has on the environment, and they want to do their part to change the demand curve to help mitigate this impact. Currently plant proteins, which haven’t reached the volume-based economies of scale yet, are likely to remain more expensive than animal protein. The fact that demand remains strong despite the higher prices is further evidence that Millennials are willing to spend their money to bring about positive change.
Another cause that seems to have attracted Millennials is recycling and reducing the use of plastics in packaging, which has given rise to a new batch of upcycled products coming to market. In addition many products are being re-imagined and presented in ways that are more recycling friendly in response to the increased awareness.
In this issue you will see some of the new products being introduced to the housewares market, and you will notice signs that product designers are aware of these important issues too. You will find interesting products made with recycled materials. Some of the products are made in such a way that they can be completely recycled once their useful life has been reached. And of course, there are a variety of products that have been created to support the desire to produce healthy meals. All of these attributes will speak to the Millennial buyer, and should be represented in your assortment.