Several of consumers’ concerns and interests during the pandemic, according to NPD
NEW YORK—As people consume more meals at home and settle into sheltering in place, housewares has been the category they turn to to fulfill their needs, with certain products performing better depending on the lockdown phase, The NPD Group said in a recent webinar with the International Housewares Association.
From bread makers driving sales early on to supplement supermarkets’ depleted bread supplies to pet products targeting those pandemic-purchased pets to facial trimmers and home hair clippers ramping up as consumers turned to grooming, this has been booming time for housewares.
“Despite all of the anxiety that is happening, as an industry this is very good for us,” said Joe Derochowski, home industry advisor, NPD, during the webinar “Shifting Consumer Behavior During COVID-19.” “All things related to evolving spending at home are really driving the growth.”
Unlike categories such as footwear, watches and beauty—which have declined since the lockdown began March 15—multiple housewares categories have experienced strong increases, sometimes by hundreds of percentage points, said Derochowski. Small appliances has “grown every single week” since the lockdown began, for example, as it, along with other strong performers such as toys and office supplies, are “part of the essentials of a quarantine life.” Seventy-four percent of the kitchen electrics’ subcategories NPD covers have seen growth. “You heard that right—74%,” he said.
Derochowski examined NPD’s findings from March 15 to April 15.
The NPD Group estimates that 13% more meals are consumed at home now, which includes 9% from what would normally be eaten at restaurants and another 4% at non-commercial foodservice establishments such as hotels and movie theaters.
Lunch is traditionally eaten away from the home, while many people carry breakfast or coffee on their commutes. But now with many consumers sheltering in place, they are consuming these things at home, said Derochowski, and their purchases reflect that. The top five kitchen electric subcategories are counter top microwave ovens, stand mixers, toasters, vacuum sealers and single-serve brewing systems, NPD found.
In addition, the more time they spend at home, the more consumers focus on dinner. Electric pasta makers are up more than 500% and bread makers are up over 400%.
People are also embracing carbs. Pre-pandemic, diets that deemphasized carbs—such as paleo or keto—were popular. Now, however, people are seeking comfort, similar to what they did after 9/11, Derochowski said. “Carb-related behavior is skyrocketing,” he said, as carbs address taste and stress.
NPD also found consumers gravitating toward certain products, depending on what week of the five week period it was. While physiological and safety needs were essential at the beginning of the lockdown, now that has moved to “higher order needs” such as love and belonging, esteem and self-actualization.
While entertaining, health and wellness and sustainability were what consumers were interested in before the lockdown, now those interests address other areas, including boredom, germs/viruses, carbs/baking/activity, new pets and weight gain.
And while consumers now are more cognizant of price, they still want value. If they previously bought their morning latte at a café, they want the equipment to make a similar, good-tasting latte at home, Derochowski said.
“Aspects of the home + housewares industry have been hit hard by coronavirus with many of our friends and colleagues being negatively impacted. But at the same time, it is encouraging to look at recent data that shows hope,” said Derek Miller, president, IHA, in a letter to the industry. “Our industry has persevered through other economic downturns, and we will persevere through this time as well.”