“More and more men are cooking,” noted Rubbermaid group product manager James Kilcoyne. About 23 percent of the purchasers of food storage container are men, up from 12 percent a decade ago, and a scant 1 percent in the 1950s.
Changing roles mean that home products and retail merchandising must appeal to every age and gender. “Instead of talking about segments or niches, you have to talk about the whole household,” said William Hauser, manager of research services at Rubbermaid.
“Retailers need to step back and say, What can we do with clusters?'” Hauser continued. For example, he said, “Look not just at purchasers, but influencers. Look long-term to several generations of purchasers.”
Children influence purchases in a number of categories, including consumer electronics, furniture, domestics and housewares. And the twentsomething crowd, the so-called Generation X, looms large as a potential market. “The younger consumer is very important,” said Craig Jack, product manager at Rubbermaid.
Young people age 18 to 24 are leading-edge consumers of stereos and video game systems, according to the Electronic Industries Association. They are also prime decision makers in family purchases of TVs and audio equipment.
The members of Generation X are some 42 million strong and spend nearly $125 billion a year on consumer products. Although their earnings are increasing at a steady clip, Generation Xers tend to be financially conservative and skeptical of traditional advertising and promotion. Many were raised in two-income or single-parent families, where they assumed household chores and learned to be savvy shoppers. “They’re very brand-conscious, and they’re looking for value,” said Jack.
Today’s twentysomethings are slower to depart and quicker to return home than any previous generation, according to Management Horizons, which predicts that young adults will continue to delay household formation. In a related trend, the number of “roommate” households is likely to grow as Baby Boomlet members begin their adult lives.
Changing consumers and changing households are dictating a new profile for the American home. Among the trends with important implications for retailers: * The Working Home. Millions of home-office workers are driving a new market for equipment and furnishings. * The Entertaining Home. Whether entertaining themselves or others, Americans are spending more leisure time at home, spurring demand for consumer electronics, housewares, cookware and tableware. * The Kids’ Home. As they take on a more active, independent role in the household, children are influencing the purchase of furniture, domestics, electronics and housewares. * The Do-It-Yourself Home. With changing demographics, home improvement products appeal to a more diverse group of consumers than ever before. * The Crafty Home. A recent crafts boom has doubled retail sales in the past five years.