As the global economy has become reinvigorated, North America has emerged as one of the strongest markets for ‘housewares’ in the world. According to the most recent estimates, the U.S. and Canada accounted for 25.7% of global housewares retail sales totaling US$331.1 billion. Total global sales up 2.6% in 2014.
So what are the latest trends in the market and what opportunities do successful U.S. retailers present for exporters?
The consumer continued her move online over the past year as virtual retailers regularly turn in double digit growth reports. And in the past year Amazon has begun to deliver something it said was not particularly important to it up to now – profit. Although Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO, admitted that someday something will certainly disrupt Amazon, 2017 will not be that year.
Other online retailers such as Wayfair are thriving. Walmart has snapped up Jet.com. Virtually every brick and mortar retailer has a full blown online strategy whether driven by acquisition or home grown. Online grocery shopping may finally be maturing and all sorts of shopping and delivery options are being launched or tested: click and collect, curbside pickup, drone delivery, one-hour delivery, same day delivery.
Even more clearly than before, all of these tools put the consumer in charge. Thus the retailers that make it the easiest for them appear to be thriving.
Curation and Value
The brick and mortar retailers that continue to drive store visits seem to have one of two strategies (and occasionally both) that make them attractive. One is offering unique products in a unique environment, often one that helps the consumer by pre-selecting just the right assortment.
The other strategy is value. With Aldi expanding in the U.S., Lidl about to get started, dollar stores back in good shape, everyday value retailing appears to be a regular driver of success. Whether it’s everyday low pricing or a blizzard of promotions, the consumer has been educated to expect a deal and refuses to pay full price.
There is hardly a retailer left in the U.S. who does not have a loyalty program. According to Business Insider, “between 2008 and 2012, U.S. loyalty memberships increased by 10 percent per year – reaching over 23 memberships per household.” That has not slowed since 2012.
The consumer does not seem to have yet tired of joining these programs and their impact still seems strong. Many tie specific product purchases to increased member rewards. Amazon Prime, Costco or Sam’s Club memberships, Sears/Kmart’s “Shop Your Way” program and Target’s 5% credit card discount are just a few examples.
Smart home products and platforms are appearing daily and are projected to grow dramatically in the next few years. In its latest IOS10 update, Apple has launched its Home app into what is already a busy space of home controlled devices.
Add to the products the growth of voice activated control systems and the future of the home is certain to bring surprising new products and services to make our lives simpler. Who would have predicted 10 years ago that we would be ordering a brand by pressing a button or viewing who is standing at our front door from anywhere in the world.
Engaging the Consumer
Entertainment continues to be a key aspect of retail success. Independent retailers do it with cooking schools and hands-on events. Bloggers and YouTubers do it with interesting approaches to the home.
On The Inspired Home (www.theinspiredhome.com), a service of IHA and the Show, thousands of consumers learn to prepare meals and treats, keep their homes cleaned and organized and learn about the latest in Smart Home technologies, all driven by products displayed at the Show.