American consumers hoping to take control of their home and their finances are focusing on modern homesteading, home remodeling and healthier eating habits in 2013. Perhaps prompted by the lingering economic downturn, some Americans have begun searching for ways to become more self-reliant at home. Others that are more optimistic about their financial future are re-investing in their home and are spending on major home improvement projects. Still others are moving toward healthier eating habits for their families by cooking from scratch more and incorporating fresh fruits and vegetables into their daily lives.
These trends are all good signs for the housewares industry. Hundreds of new products highlighting these trends will be on display at the 2013 International Home + Housewares Show, March 2-5 at McCormick Place in Chicago.
The International Housewares Association’s Consumer Advisory Council, a subset of the 100-member HomeTrend Influentials Panel (HIPsters) established by Riedel Marketing Group, is at the forefront of many of these trends. The HIPsters were created to identify cutting-edge, home-related trends and a small group of HIPsters comprise a focus group each year for IHA.
“For the first time in four years, a larger percent of HIPsters is less worried about money than they were the previous year,” said A.J. Riedel, senior partner of Riedel Marketing Group. Almost one quarter – 23 percent – of respondents to the June 2012 survey reported they are less worried about money and what the future may hold now than they were a year ago, up from 13 percent in 2011.
“Regardless of how secure consumers are feeling about their financial future and the economy, they are being very cautious and careful in how they spend their money,” Riedel said. “Consumers are not going back to their pre-recession free spending ways.”
Homesteading is Where the Heart is
The economy may be partially responsible for the increase in homesteading activities among some Americans. Homesteading, defined as a lifestyle of self-sufficiency by Wikipedia, has transformed into modern or 21st century homesteading in the past decade or so.
The concept of modern homesteading incorporates small-scale, sustainable agriculture and home-making in urban and suburban settings. According to Wikipedia, aspects of urban homesteading include environmentally-conscious alternatives, such as solar energy or harvesting rainwater; composting; food preservation such as canning; community food-sourcing; raising animals; and “edible landscaping” such as growing fruits and vegetables.
Homesteading, especially in urban areas, has continued to become exceedingly popular among HIPsters and to some degree, mainstream Americans. Many have become involved in farmer’s markets, have access to Community Supported Agriculture (CSA’s), have fostered their own gardens and choose to purchase locally grown produce. Basic concepts such as canning have also increased, with nearly one-quarter of HIPsters canning their own fruits or vegetables.
Several media sources agree that urban farming and homesteading are among the forecasted trends for 2013. A November 2012 article for QuickEasyFit on 2013 gardening trends, predicts an increase in urban farming activities among Americans such as growing their own vegetables, canning their own fruit and keeping honeybees.
“Consumers are digging deep and realizing that they hold the key to their own economic recovery,” according to a trend report on consumer products and colors for 2013 by Diamond Vogel, an Iowa-based paint manufacturer. “These consumers are resourceful and have adopted an ‘I can take care of myself’ attitude as they brace for a possible extended period of economic uncertainty. There is a real emotional connection to products made in the USA and by local artisans. They are realizing the strengths of our culture and take comfort in that which looks to be handmade, vintage or reclaimed. Authentic products that are home-grown, home-made or home-preserved are cherished.”
Colors from farmer’s markets and nature are the color inspiration for this “reshaping our heritage” trend, Diamond Vogel predicted.
All of the HIPsters participating in focus group for IHA last fall have their own vegetable gardens and some have livestock on their property. “It nice to know where the food comes from,” one HIPster said. “It tastes better.”
“Even in suburbs, we are more aware of what’s in foods,” another HIPster said, noting consumers are becoming more educated and are taking control of their food supply. Some HIPsters report their some of their friends have begun homesteading activities for expense management and cost control reasons, while others report they have begun growing their own food because of a general distrust of what is in the food they purchase.
Shopping at the farmer’s market has become a family activity, much like going to the grocery store. “Our kids enjoy picking out what we are going to eat,” one HIPster said. “We can get meat, vegetables, milk and eggs.”
Some aspects of modern homesteading may be more associated with the consumer’s desire to eat healthier than with a search for self-sufficiency. Growing their own fruits and vegetables, shopping at local farmer’s markets or participating in CSAs might be triggered by a desire to take control of the foods their families are eating.
In the past year, Riedel reported, more than half of the HIPsters made major changes in the types of foods they and their families are eating. More than 60 percent have made those changes because they want to eat healthier, she said.
Riedel noted HIPsters are participating in healthier cooking habits such as grilling more, cooking from scratch more and using slow cookers more. Forty-five percent of HomeTrend Influential Panel members are cooking from scratch more often than they did last year, Riedel noted, and 39 percent are grilling more often.
As a result, they are reporting using their stovetop and conventional ovens, slow cookers, blenders and steamers more often and using their microwave ovens less than they were last year. “The increased usage of slow cookers, steamers and blenders is related to the trend toward the preparation of more fresh foods, using scratch cooking techniques,” Riedel said.
“Given that HIPsters are using more whole fresh ingredients and cutting down on foods that contain preservatives, artificial flavors and colors, it’s not surprising that they are also using healthier cooking techniques and methods of cooking more often,” said Riedel, who noted 49 percent of HIPsters have made major changes in the way they prepare food in the past year.
Seventy-five percent of HIPsters shop at local fruit/vegetable stands and farmer’s markets and more than half of them report buying from those locations more often than they were a year or two ago, Riedel said.
Nineteen percent of HIPsers report they have joined a fruit/vegetable co-op to purchase their produce and two of the focus group participants said they purchase produce, beef and raw milk from CSA farms. In addition, a significant portion of HIPsters grow their own fruits and vegetables, with 56 percent saying they planted a garden this year and 78 percent interested in planting a vegetable garden in the future.
The increase in vegetable gardening seems to be prompting resurgence in canning. Twenty-four percent of HIPsters can and 34 percent of those are canning more now than they were a year ago.
That trend seems to be supported by an October 2012 report by Chicago-based research firm Culinary Visions Panel identifying 2013 food trends. This report predicts “canning, curing and cutting in house” will be popular trends in 2013. “As the push toward local is finding its way into almost every segment, chefs are moving toward preservation,” the report concluded. Pickling is another food trend the panel expects to be popular as well.
Breadmaking was mentioned by several focus group participants during the discussion about changes in food prep habits.
Another change in eating patterns appears to be an increase in the number of meals Americans eat daily.
“Meal times have expanded from the traditional three to seven as snacking increases among time starved Americans hectic schedules,” according to the Culinary Visions Panel report. “Small plates are no longer a trend; they are just part of the way Americans eat today.”
The NPD Group of Port Washington, N.Y., reports that increased snacking might actually lead to healthier eating habits.
“Contrary to conventional wisdom, the more consumers snack, the healthier their eating behaviors,” according to the NPD report Snacking in America, which examines long-term attitudes and behaviors about snacking. More consumers view snacking as one way to improve healthy eating habits. “Consumers with the healthiest diets consume 36 percent more snack meals a year than the average consumer,” the report said.
The Year of Bliss – Gardening, Environment Trends Increase
Closely linked to the increase in homesteading is the rise in vegetable gardening and “edible landscaping,” which is defined as an approach to food production where ornamentals are replaced with edible or productive plants.
In its annual Garden Trends Report, Garden Media Group, a Pennsylvania-based home and garden marketing company, is forecasting 2013 as the “Year of Bliss.”
“People today are searching for ways to find bliss in everyday life,” said Susan McCoy, president of Garden Media. “Connecting with nature is a necessity, not a luxury.”
Coinciding with this return to nature, Riedel reports the majority of HIPsters – 66 percent - are concerned about the environment.
Many of them have begun using natural solutions for weed and pest control. Nineteen percent of HIPsters compost, primarily since they don’t have to use fertilizer for their lawn and garden. Two of the focus group participants plan to start composting in the next year or two.
Home Improvement Projects on the Rise
With the hope of an improved economy in 2013, many Americans are spending their discretionary dollars on their primary investment – their home.
“Another indication that HIPsters are feeling a little more hopeful about the economy is that they are once again spending on home improvement,” Riedel said. “A significantly larger percent of HIPsters did a major home improvement or remodeling project in the past year than in the previous year. An even larger percent, including most of the focus group participants, are planning to do at least one major home improvement or remodeling project in the next year.
“The survey of the HomeTrend Influentials Panel leaves no doubt that consumers continue to exhibit a number of frugal behaviors to make every dollar count,” Riedel said.
“An improving housing market and record low interest rates are driving projections of strong gains in home improvement activity through the end of the year and into the first half of 2013,” according to an October 2012 report by the Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity (LIRA) released by the Remodeling Futures Program at the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University. “The LIRA suggests that the seeds for what appears to be a very robust remodeling recovery have been planted, with annual homeowner improvement spending expected to reach double-digit growth in the first half of 2013.”
Social Media Activity Evolves
“The biggest news in social media is how quickly Pinterest has grown into one of the major social networking sites,” Riedel said. In less than a year, Pinterest has become a favorite social media destination, with 72 percent of HIPsters joining as of October 2012, up from 53 percent in March 2012.
The most popular Pinterest activity among HIPsters is looking for recipes, but one focus group participant reported consulting Pinterest for craft project ideas, holiday decorating ideas, directions on how to do make-up and hair for her daughter’s recitals and even how to organize a pantry.
Facebook still remains the most popular social networking site, with many HIPsters using Facebook for relaying information and getting recommendations on what to buy, providing fashion tips and to advertise if they have something to give away or sell.
Thousands of products highlighting these trends will be on display at the 2013 International Home + Housewares Show, March 2-5 in Chicago. Here’s a sampling of the newest products that will be introduced at the Show:
CLEAN, CONTAIN + SUSTAIN EXPO
A steam cleaner that combines micro pulse technology to assists the mop across the floor and an LED light and black light germ sensor to seek out problem areas.
Motorized grill cleaner that allows the consumer to place the item on top of the grill, press a button and let the cleaner take the grunt work out of grill cleaning.
A lightweight, durable and recyclable solution for urban gardening and small space organization, this series of products provides the user a way to display plants vertically on the surface area of the walls. The line features magnetic vessels that can be attached to the wall and allow for easy removal, rearrangement and customization.
Mosquito repeller that diffuses natural oils into the air up to 10 feet in diameter and includes battery powered tea light for ambiance.
A pet odor, allergen and dander control air filter that features natural baking soda to reduce odors and trap allergy-causing particles.
Magnetic scrubbers designed so consumers can better clean items such as wine decanters or vases that have hard-to-reach long narrow spaces. To use, the silicone scrubbing disc is placed into the dirty vessel and the magnetic scrubber is aligned outside and locked to the disc, allowing the user to clean the inside.
A sweeper set that features a full-sized broom and durable rubber feet that holds the dustpan steady on the floor for hands-free operation.
A line of colorful vaporizers that provide bacteria-free steam to offer relief from nasal congestion or dry coughs.
A line of colorful silicone flowerpots that is flexible and collapsible so they can be used as a vase or a flowerpot and then collapse for space-saving storage.
An all-natural odor absorber that purifies air without giving off a scent and can be placed anywhere odors, bacteria or moisture accumulate.
A new mop featuring a cleaning pad that combines a super absorbent sponge, deep cleaning microfiber and safe scrubbing polyester mesh.
Sensor mirror designed with a super bright LED light ring that mimics natural sunlight and reflects light consistently and evenly. It is rechargeable and cordless and will automatically turn off after the user walks away.
A reusable, compostable cloth that can take the place of paper towels and synthetic sponges. It can be placed in the washer and dryer and can be reused.
A line of seasonal, decorative mat covers for anti-fatigue mats that help add a touch of color and comfort to any room.
An onyx-finished vanity mirror that features four-time magnification.
Solar stakes and solar statues featuring characters such as Angry Birds or Hello Kitty. The items charge during the day and light up at night.
An LED lantern that can be used continuously for 30 days. It is water and impact resistant.
Small and large garment bags that naturally protect store and organize and feature an herbal sachet inside a hidden pocket at the base of the bag.
Natural fiber reusable shopping bags that are a green alternative to paper and plastic.
Disposable cups that are annually renewable and are made from plants, not oil.
Ceramic pet food dish that provides a healthy and natural way to feed your cat. Cats can reach into the dome and capture kibble one at a time, helping to aid in digestion.
A line of patent-pending, energy efficient magnetic register/vent covers that help homeowners save on their annual heating bill.
Disinfecting wipes created by stone care experts so they can kill bacteria and help families avoid the repair or replacement of natural stone surfaces.
A line of waste-free, food-packing solutions including products such as insulated lunch sacks made from recycled plastic bottles and leak-proof stainless steel containers.
A line of reusable bottles that filters tap water as the user is drinking. The bottles feature an all-natural, eco-friendly filter that eliminates chlorine taste and odor.
An organizing laundry bag that can be used as an insert to a laundry basket or as a stand-alone laundry organizer. The built-in dividers separate laundry into three individual compartments.
A reusable square water bottle that features a removal bottom, making it easier to clean.
Patent-pending aprons made from men’s dress shirts.
Designer boxes for plastic wrap dispenser that also features zip-safe slide cutter.
Patent-pending magnetic accessory that helps the user to organize jewelry and accessories as a stylish piece of art.
An appetizer maker that allows the user to layer the ingredients and then cut and carry snacks such as taco pizza stacks or mini Cuban stacks. It comes with a tamper to press dry layers, spreader/serrated knife and cookbook.
An in-bottle beer chiller that keeps beer cold whether the user is drinking from the bottle or the beverage is poured into a glass.
A cookware collection that features a five-ply base made of aluminum and 18/10 stainless steel and removable handles to maximize storage space in the kitchen and dishwasher. The ability to remove the handles enhances the cookware’s multi-functionality by transforming a frying pan into an oven dish and then a serving platter.
A chopping spatula that features a concave head design that is flexible in one direction so it can slide under foods for easy lifting and rigid in another direction for chopping food as it is cooking.
A colorful and creative update to the traditional box grater, this product sits comfortably in the palm of your hand or on the counter as opposed to a traditional box grater that stands upright. It is available in green, red or yellow.
A multicolor cutlery prep set in a universal block features knives with resin-coated stainless steel blades and colorful handles. The colored universal block is filled with special rods that allow the user to insert the knives in any arrangement.
An iced tea maker that brews hot tea and flash chills the hot tea into iced tea in minutes.
A line of metal bakeware designed for compact easy storage. Each shape fits inside the next larger size, so the pans will take up less space.
A patented technology that allows a portable mug to grip the table when it is accidentally knocked over, preventing messy spills.
A dinnerware collection featuring a whimsical honeycomb motif that is available in both glass and ceramic materials.
A spoon rest that can cradle the utensil in two different positions – either vertically or horizontally – by simply adjusting the chrome wire stand.
Patent-pending glass microwave plate covers that are stovetop, oven, microwave and dishwasher safe and won’t warp or discolor.
A stainless steel reinforced clip with a silicone gripper that acts as a colander by easily attaching to the pot and stays in place while draining.
Colorful, handcrafted pottery line of mix-and-match dinnerware.
A tasting set collection that features 4 or 6 tasting spoons that is ideal for formal or informal occasions or events.
A pitcher with a flavor infuser designed to infuse drinks with the fresh flavor of fruits, herbs or spices.
A double-wall tumbler for cold and hot drinks that features a patented kit that traps tea inside and contains the brewing of the tea.
A set of margarita glasses that features a bold, rugged texture embossed into thick, durable glass and a thick, beveled stem.
Tri-ply cookware that features a thick inner layer of aluminum that’s permanently bonded to an interior cooking surface of stainless steel and a stainless steel exterior. It features stainless steel handles and comes with stainless steel lids.
A “do-it-yourself” molecular gastronomy kit that features five pre-measured food additives, five specialized molecular tools and a 50-recipe DVD to make such foods as chocolate spaghetti and mint caviar.
A line of aluminized steel bakeware with a non-stick coating inside and out.
A silicone ladle that features a raised head that prevents it from touching the kitchen countertop, eliminating messes and avoiding contamination.
A colorful, flavorful cocktail rimming garnish made with a blend of pure cane sugar infused with natural fruit flavor. It is available in nine flavors.
A 7-piece cutlery block set that features ergonomic, slip-resistant design and a mirrored polish finish on the high-carbon stainless steel blade.
Gourmet grillware that allows the user to grill and serve in the same piece.
A line of environmentally-friendly dinnerware and serveware that combines wheat starch and 70% bamboo fiber, so it is 100% biodegradable.
Place mat made from Earth-friendly materials and is spill-resistant, easy to clean and grips to the table surface.
Patent-pending French Press that is a manual precision coffee brewer designed to micro-filter coffee through a double filter.
A bartending accessory that incorporates 10 essential bar tools needed to create perfect drinks in one.
A line of stainless steel products that includes stock pots, saucepots, steamer and pasta pots.
Aprons that feature measurement conversions for anyone who has trouble converting the common baking measurements.
A specially designed ceramic grinder that captures flax mill seeds and crushes them, making it easy to unlock the health benefits of flax with a twist of the mill.
Reusable, dishwasher safe cups that are available in a number of different designs and sizes and are geared toward outdoor entertaining.
A 3-piece chef’s knife set by the company that created flatware with beveled outer tines, which allows the user to cut food easily.
A mug that is elegantly suspended over a coaster via the handle.
A portable, hand-held vacuum sealer that prevents freezer burn with the touch of a button.
A collapsible colander that folds flat for easy storage.
WIRED + WELL EXPO
A space-saving coffee and tea maker that features both single serve and carafe-style designs in the same product. It also includes a separate tea filter to rapid brew tea.
A fully automatic one-touch cappuccino maker that features an integrated nozzle that prepares the milk froth directly in the coffee cup, The product also automatically cleans itself so the user can avoid spending time cleaning the nozzle and separate milk reservoir.
An electric single-serve espresso system that brews authentic Italian coffee with the press of a button.
An 800-watt, high-powered, two-speed juicer that features an extra-large food chute so whole fruits won’t need to be cut.
A breakfast sandwich maker that allows the user to make a hot, homemade breakfast sandwich in less than five minutes.
An at-home device using light-based energy designed for permanent hair removal for the face and body.
A personal, portable sound machine that features adjustable settings offering a choice of rain, waterfall or surf as “white noise.”
A line of water filtration pitchers and filters with European design and styling and is available in six colors. It features a pour-through lid and a rubberized handle.
A multi-functional, multi-surface, full-powered bagless vacuum cleaner that is also a steam mop.
A light-weight hand vacuum that features a cyclonic technology and can run for up to 13 minutes on a single charge. It also features an attachment with micro brushes for use on upholstery.
A portable space heater designed to resemble a mini electric fireplace.
A memory foam pillow that features a cool gel that starts cool and stays cool all night long.
A stainless steel four-slice toaster oven that features a new technology that provides up to 30 percent more even toasting. It also offers a precision timer setting and an improved thermostat that maintains better temperature.
A three-stage water filtration system that provides an unlimited supply of clean and fresh tasting water.
A rice cooker and warmer that features a new steam function that allows foods to be steamed in the tray while the rice is cooking in the bowl below.
A light-weight, quiet and powerful Tourmaline Ceramic hair dryer that dries the hair evenly and reduces drying time up to 50%. At the same time it produces an increased amount of negative ions to seal in moisture, repel humidity, reduce frizz and eliminate static.
A baby food maker that can steam, heat, defrost and blend and can be operated single handedly, opening and closing with a single touch.
Water baths that make home sous vide more accessible than ever. The easy-to-use, easy-to-maintain sous vide machines help create nutritious, convenient and cost effective meals for any day of the week.
Home soda making kit that features pre-measured cartridges and syrups and is easy to operate. It is not a countertop appliance and can be stored in a drawer.
GLOBAL CROSSROADS EXPO
A multi-functional small electric appliance that can be used for baking, mixing, squeezing, grinding and straining.
Spoon sticks that are slim chopsticks on one side and a stylish spoon when turned upside down.
Tasting platters that feature individual ceramic dishes on a bamboo serving tray.
Roaster sets that are made from chip-resistant and easy-to-clean stoneware that are oven-safe, freezer safe and dishwasher safe.