issue: May 2009 APPLIANCE Magazine
Changed by Recession
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Tim Somheil, editor
Consumers are thinking about wellness, living green, and living within their means.
The economy, the environment,
and still more health and safety threats are influencing how consumers
think and behave, and will certainly affect their future purchases of
home appliances. Several weeks ago, a panel at the International Home +
Housewares Show in Chicago discussed their views of consumer lifestyle
trends in 2010. The panel identified six trends, and one of them,
called Living Within Our Means, is a direct product of the recession.
recession is changing the way we view cash versus credit,” said Tom
Mirabile, vice president, global trend and design at Lifetime Brands
Inc. “Durability is now more important, [as is] redefining leisure time
activities. That is a huge opportunity for our industry.”
cookers, slow cookers, airtight storage products, and canning products
are more popular and are helping people live within their means.
Wellness Kitchen trend is also affected by the economy. This trend
encompasses nutrition, living longer, and a commitment to overall
well-being. Sharilyn Ruckman, president of product development firm
Ruckman + Company, recommended OEMs address this trend by helping
consumers save money and give them ways to make more healthful
decisions, such as home food prep and maintaining foods’ nutritional
Another trend, not surprisingly, was
the Green Kitchen. Mirabile noted that even consumers who are not green
also face peer and family pressure to be green.
global producer of outdoor power equipment, found similar themes
emerging from its survey of 6000+ consumers for its Global Gardening
Trend Report. The OEM came up with two scenarios for the future, taking
into consideration social and cultural concerns like the economy and
One is the Organic Home, for
users who want a home that’s sustainable and self-sufficient. These
homes may have green roofs, rainwater recovery, and other systems not
typical today. The survey found a “make do and mend” attitude emerging
as an outgrowth of the economic crisis. More consumers want their yards
to be a source of shelter, relief, and food.
fact, according to a separate National Gardening Association survey,
the number of U.S. homes planning to grow their own food this year is
up 19%—on top of a 10% increase last year.
consumers still want convenience and they want to enjoy their homes.
The housewares panel identified another trend as Cooking for Fun, which
involves creating shared experiences and enjoying life’s simpler
Cooking, yes, but “Yardwork for
Fun” is not expected to be a top trend. This led Husqvarna to come up
with its second scenario of the future: the Intelligent Yard, for busy
users with little love for lawn maintenance. The company foresees
self-watering and self-feeding lawns, lawns that submit growth
development reports, and even self-pruning plants.
can any one company meet the needs of all these emerging, overlapping,
and surely inconstant consumer tendencies? Husqvarna certainly reaches
both ends of the technology span, judging by its lawn mowers. The
company’s reel mower lineup uses engineering that has changed little in
a century. These nonpolluting, low-cost mowers certainly fit many of
today’s consumer trends.
At the other end of
the spectrum is Husqvarna’s Automower 260 ACX, engineered “for anyone
with a large lawn and a busy life,” says Stefan Axelsson, business
manager for Robotic Lawnmowers. He says it makes lawn maintenance 99%
carefree—and if the mower is ever disturbed, it sends its owner a text
Both the reel mower and the robo-mower meet the needs of specific customers.
panel member Curt Bailey, president of industrial design firm
Sundberg-Ferar Inc., recommends that producers find their audience and
be unique, saying, “Whether it’s gender or geography, you need to
embrace out of the ordinary.”
Consumer Trends Inside and Out
Read more about the discussion at Home + Housewares 2009:
Recession Spawns Consumer Lifestyle Trends