Noted trend forecaster Tom Mirabile.
Noted trend forecaster Tom Mirabile.

During the 2015 International Home + Housewares Show held in Chicago recently, more than 2,100 exhibitors displayed their wares to over 60,000 attendees from more than 125 countries. Also on hand were industry experts to discern which trends would impact the homewares industry, including appliances and consumer technology, this year.

“You have to ask yourself: ‘Am I just putting a product out on the market or out on my store floor? Or am I enabling people to live the kind of lives they want to lead?’” asked Tom Mirabile, senior vice president, global trend and design at Lifetime Brands.

His key piece of advice? “Take the time to focus and invest in innovation,” Mirabile said. “It’s never about luck. The people who are winning have a strategy, and innovation is a big part of that.”

Here are the top six trends that emerged during the show:

Home Automation
There is growing consumer interest in home automation and one research company has predicted the market will be worth $21.67 billion globally in 2020. This market has a strong foundation in the popular robot vacuums and devices controlled from smartphones or tablets. However key concerns remain about the synergy and compatibility, or lack thereof, of multiple devices from different suppliers which may not play nicely together.

Healthy Living
The health and wellbeing trend shows no signs of slowing down. It’s a broad trend covering what we eat, how we take care of our homes and ourselves physically with fitness gadgets.

“From juicing machines to smoothie makers to machines that work with prepackaged recipes, anything that helps save time and ensures healthy choices is a big hit right now,” said Mark Dziersk, managing director of Chicago-based industrial design agency Lunar.

Simply Done
But consumers don’t just want healthier foods; they want products that offer simplicity and convenience, for example set and forget slow cookers.

Dziersk also noted “multipurpose, multifunction designs that save space, money and time are meeting our changing expectations as we continue to attempt to simplify a life overwhelmed with details. Things that work and fit in tighter footprints are hot. As cities become more populated and urban living trends continue to escalate, new ways to save space in the kitchen and pantry are huge.”

Staying Local
Even without an outbreak of Hepatitis A from foreign berries, eating locally sourced food is becoming a key concern for many consumers. Healthy eating for consumers means knowing where their food is coming from. The trend toward purchasing locally grown produce, grains, meats and seafood is on the rise. For electrical retailers this means in refrigeration a particularly important focus will be on keeping food fresh for longer.

Cooking from scratch
Using those locally sourced ingredients to cook from scratch is also popular. Stand mixers, especially with the versatility of optional attachments, and meat mincers/grinders are examples of appliances that allow consumers to take control of their food preparation.

Cooking like a Pro
The popularity of television cooking shows has prompted many consumers to purchase professional-quality and professionally-designed products for example sous vide machines. “Our fascination with cooking as an art we can practice at home is here to stay and it’s driving a desire for professional, quality products in the kitchen…quality materials and a ‘professional’ design signal to our dinner guests that we love to cook and we’re good at it,” said Dziersk.