By Vicki Matranga, Design Programs Coordinator
Learn how to develop and launch the right products for the right customer—with the right methods! Be sure to attend some of the free executive-level educational sessions at the Innovation Theater. These programs will give you a fresh perspective as you walk the Show and will inspire, inform and improve your business.
The four days of the 2015 International Home + Housewares Show will be packed with events and educational sessions. To help you plan your valuable time at the Show, we preview the 21 presentations that will take place in the Innovation Theater in the Lakeside Center. Don’t miss the chance to meet the speakers in person and the opportunity to ask questions relevant to your work. All programs are audio-recorded and will be available on www.housewares.org after the Show.
The American Living Survey™: Color, Design and Pattern Trends in the Kitchen and in Housewares
Sunday, March 8 10:30—11:20 a.m.
Innovation Theater, Lakeside Center, Room E350
We are speaking today with Rick Babick and Janine Michalek. Rick is president and founder of Design Research, the New Jersey-based company he founded in 1998 after a 16-year career as head of research and planning for Lenox, Inc. Design Research uses a proprietary program to test new designs and new product concepts in the consumer durables context. They have applied this methodology in hundreds of research projects to accurately predict which designs or products will succeed and which won’t, thus saving clients time, money and lost credibility. The company also conducts design trends surveys such as The American Living SurveyTM for the benefit of its clients to keep their product development efforts on the right track and to sensitize clients to the importance of communicating with their consumers.
Janine is vice president of market intelligence at Design Research. Janine celebrates her 10th anniversary with Design Research this year after also spending 16 years in research with Lenox, Inc., the last six of which were as corporate director of research. In addition to her primary research activities, Janine spends a great deal of her time focused on trends in consumer behavior with a special emphasis on consumer acceptance of new designs. Janine uses The American Living Survey™ to compliment the design trends information she encounters in proprietary projects. She is passionate about design and about helping clients to bring design-right products to market.
Rick, what is the most exciting or rewarding part of your work? What inspires your passion?
We delight in solving problems for clients. Those problems can range from “which design or product concept should we introduce?” to “how can we grow our business?” to “who is our customer?” Regardless of the nature of the challenges our clients face, the answers are always out there – in the hearts and minds of consumers – and we know how to bring those answers out in ways that guide our clients to the right products and the right strategies. We remove the guesswork and get clients beyond the “we’ve always done it that way” mindset. You might say that our passion is achieved when we see our clients faces light up with the understanding that our results have solved their problems and enabled them to move forward.
In the past few years, what has changed most in your business? How has your company met these challenges in the way you do your work?
Perhaps the biggest change in the research environment has been the decline in the cost of data collection due to the ever increasing size of available online panels. This, coupled with the widespread use of computers and mobile devices has enabled us to conduct surveys faster and less expensively than ever before. We can now test a new product, design or concept for as little as $500 (when multiple products or concepts are involved). That is a tremendous change. It means that smaller companies that couldn’t previously compete with larger companies (and larger budgets) can now compete on a level playing field. And think about that $500 cost in the context of a product development budget. How much does it cost your company to bring one new product to market when you take into account, design and development time, tooling costs, support materials, inventory, shipping etc.? A lot of course. And then think about spending only $500 to know in advance whether that product is going to find consumer acceptance. No company today wouldn’t pay for fire insurance to protect its offices and inventory. Why not pay a modest fee to guarantee that you have the right products—products that will sell because consumers really need and want them.
Why did you choose to speak at the International Home and Housewares Show?
To us, this Show is the most important show of the year. While home products has been our specialty for decades, housewares has been our focus for the past 10 years. We have had the pleasure and privilege of working with many companies in this context and this Show is an opportunity to share our research and trends data with our friends as yet another way we can help guide their strategic planning. It’s also a great way to make new friends too. We meet great people every year.
Tell us what you will be speaking about and how this topic is important for Show Audiences.
We have a three-part presentation this year:
- The first part will present a strategy through which companies can use demographic segmentation to evaluate their product offerings to see if their assortments address all segments or concentrate on only a few. This is a basic but important way to evaluate your product development strategy and to use as a decision criteria to evaluate new products. In order to explain this approach we will be sharing the results of a recent study of consumer needs regarding several housewares product categories.
- The second part will be the third annual update of our American Living Survey™, a study of 600 American Households that identifies trends in colors, patterns, materials and designs in housewares and other products. This wave of the survey will focus on the three-year design trends data to quantitatively illuminate what is really happening in the home and kitchen today.
- The third part of our presentation is a surprise! We will be unveiling a new information tracking service which we know will prove very helpful to IHA member companies.
You’ve presented in the Innovation Theater before. What are you looking forward to most from speaking at the Innovation Theater?
We are very pleased that our audience has grown each year we’ve presented. We know that people are coming back to see our new trends data and we really appreciate that! We hope that people will bring questions this year so that we’ll have additional input to guide our efforts.
What do you see as consumers’ biggest concerns regarding housewares products?
We believe consumers’ biggest household concerns relate to healthy environments and healthy eating, so the degree to which housewares products provide or enhance clean and safe environments and food are the largest concerns that consumers have today. This invites suppliers of food consumption related products to reflect carefully on all aspects of the goods they deliver from factory to table.
What are some of today’s trends or issues that new product development professionals and/or retailers face in the housewares market?
We feel the biggest challenge facing new product developers is sameness everywhere. You can’t be successful by just endlessly knocking yourself or your competitors off. You have to have original products addressed to the needs of specific consumers. The right way forward for new product development efforts does not lie on store shelves today, but in consumers’ needs and wants and its only through research that those needs and wants can be identified and addressed. Please come to our presentation for a more in-depth discussion of this!
Thank you, Rick, for this thorough preview of your topic and approach. Your presentations are always a big draw for Show audiences and this one sounds like an exciting new chapter. We look forward to hearing more from you and Janine on Sunday, March 8 at 10:30 a.m. at the Innovation Theater, Lakeside Center E350.
Learn more about the work of Design Research, contact Rick and Janine:
Design Research, LLC
84 Franklin Corner Road
Lawrenceville, NJ 08648