KBB - April 2012 - (Page 18)
Consumers rediscover the value of community
The recent “Great Recession” has changed many aspects of society for the long term: delayed earning power for those under 30; the rise of multigenerational homes as families unite for economic survival; and a new attitude about spending, with the most activity happening at the value and luxury ends of the market. But the recession has also resulted in another more social effect: a return to past values that reflect a community lifestyle.
KEEPING IT LOCAL
Just look at the dramatic rise in farmers’ markets across the nation in not only the summer but also the winter. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, winter farmers’ markets totaled 1,225 nationwide in 2011, up 38 percent from the previous year. The reasons are manifold—part wellness (healthier eating habits), part safety (concern about bacteria), part social (leisure activity) and part economic (supporting local). Consumers are realizing that supporting local business is good for the health of their community. “Cash Mobs,” for example, is a new trend spreading across the country where consumers unite via the web to support a retailer in their community by showing up and paying full price—the anti-Groupon! We are also “Living Streetside,” a term coined by Sphere Trending to reflect our move from hanging out on the deck in a fenced-enclosed yard to actively connecting with neighbors as we reside on the front porch. And suburbia is reinventing itself by including community gardens and playgrounds, while urban living is being favored by many for the proximity it provides to social activities. Why the change? More single and childless households are certainly one key factor. Another is our need to emotionally reconnect with family and friends, particularly as we spend less, live within our means and once again make the home a hub. Even product design reflects a more “communal” nature, as evidenced by the many that can adapt to the user: customizable shower settings; tables that adjust from high to low, depending on need; and kitchens with home office and entertaining areas. Increasingly, we see the home as a dynamic entity that needs to morph for different needs and different users.The nation’s low mobility rate—only 4.7 percent of homeowners moved between 2010 and 2011, according to the Census Bureau—means we are staying in our homes longer and, as a result, expecting more versatility from the space.
The Daybreak community outside of Salt Lake City is reinventing suburbia with community gardens, playgrounds and a lake.
stable.” As observed by Sphere Trending in touring new construction and remodels across the country, kitchen and bath design remains a primary focal point, and even moderately priced homes are incorporating luxury elements, such as tile in new spaces and places for interesting accents; storage pantries for easy access in the kitchen and laundry; and new zoning that reflects experiences—chatting, cooking, relaxing—instead of functions. There is a new emotional engagement that speaks to the various lifestyles currently in play within our society.Young adults in search of their first home are looking for spaces that can “live larger” and reflect their personal interests. Those in the family-raising stage expect their homes to connect, not separate—think open-plan kitchen/family room, bonus rooms, rec rooms.And the rising group of empty-nesters desires dwellings that bring convenience and wellness without appearing institutional. Common among all lifestyles is a desire for inside/out living, whereby a home’s exterior becomes an extension of the interior for seamless movement between the two. Today’s homeowners tend to think about the experience of using a space or product. Does it bring happiness or help the family connect? Does it enhance versatility within the home? As a designer, use verbs to describe product and/or design rather than nouns. Consumers want to be inspired by the possibilities, especially those reflecting a new emotional engagement, which will continue for a long time. n —Maxine Lauer is CEO and president of Sphere Trending (www. spheretrending.com; www.spheretrending.blogspot.com), a consulting firm that tracks trends affecting our environments through a deep understanding of consumer needs and desires, societal changes, technological innovations and retail landscapes.The company then combines these macro trends with in-depth design trends to bring innovative strategies to market.
All this holds positive implications for the kitchen and bath industry. Remodeling will benefit from the longer stay in homes, as living spaces are reconfigured for current lifestyles. The latest American Institute of Architects (AIA) Quarterly Home Design Trends survey indicates “there is more space being devoted to kitchens in U.S. homes, while the emphasis on bathrooms, which didn’t see as much of a decline during the downturn, has remained
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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of KBB - April 2012
KBB - April 2012
Show Director's Note
Road to KBIS
KBB - April 2012