Industry insiders weigh in on what will be popular for the year ahead.
Outlooks for 2015 appear to be positive. The holiday shopping season is raking in higher sales numbers than in recent years, and a recent survey from Grant Thornton, an organization of independent audit, tax and advisory firms, of chief financial officers reveals that 47 percent of these senior-level executives expect the economy to improve within the first six months of the new year, holding steady with prior results from the 18 months.
According to industry insiders, certain sectors should continue to see increased interest in 2015. Below, we take a look at products likely to be hot next year — and worth adding to your home.
Home automation has become increasingly popular in the last year or two, and manufacturers are eager to get into the market.
New gadgets are constantly being released to help manage everything from security to lighting to water management. The fact that many of these products can be easily linked together through Wi-Fi or Bluetooth technology also makes them attractive, because they are generally easy to install and they work with existing technologies that consumers already own, such as smartphone
But the speed at which new technologies are coming out can make it difficult for consumers to keep up with the most current systems, observes Rick Pontz of The Lawn & Garden Performance Group. About a year ago, Pontz installed a remote-accessible thermostat in his second home in order to regulate temperature prior arrival. A year after installing it, though, the system seems outdated, he adds.
That seems to be the nature of electronics on the whole, but it means that consumers should pay even closer attention to new technologies as they are released to make decisions based on what is current. New releases for 2014 included upgraded geofencing technology to dictate home services; water-management components for increased safety; and increased partnerships with non-home-related entities to better integrate consumers’ lives. Major retailers, such as Home Depot and Lowe’s, are even dedicating new senior leadership positions to exploring the opportunities for the home-automation category in both commercial and residential capacities.
Energy efficiency is another technology factor to watch. LED products have long been popular as an energy-efficiency solution for the home, but solar-powered items may gain more traction as additional merchandise comes to market. There is outdoor lighting, for example, that uses solar panels to better power systems. And there are even outdoor furniture pieces that incorporate solar panels to charge electronic devices. Upgrades in batteries to increase power and lifespan are also making these products better and more popular investments, Pontz notes.
“Homegating is a real thing,” states Andrew Feldman, director of outdoor and seasonal at Brand Source. “People are really making a bigger thing about having friends over during the game and showing off. They want to entertain, and they want to show off to their friends.”
Pizza ovens — Feldman prefers to promote them simply as outdoor ovens — have been a big hit this past year and should continue to be in 2015 as consumers look for versatile tools that allow outdoor living spaces to easily be used for cooking and entertaining. Homeowners who opt to include full-scale outdoor kitchen and islands are also opting for as many bells and whistles as possible, including sinks, and built-in coolers and refrigerators. They often outfit these bigger islands with quality finishes, such as stones, to complete the effect, Feldman notes.
But high-end, big-ticket items, such as high-caliber grills and expansive outdoor kitchens aren’t the only things worth stocking. Homeowners are also likely to flock to inventive gadgets, such as claws to pull pork or robots to clean grills, as additional showcase-worthy grilling tools.
“People will spend a fair amount of money to get a chuckle and show friends,” Feldman adds.
Technology plays a role here as well, especially products that can integrate with other home systems, such as outdoor speakers with Bluetooth connections. Even grills are getting into the smart technology arena, with Lynx’s new Concept Grill scheduled to hit the market in 2015. The appliance will provide voice-activated cooking commands, smartphone monitoring of cooking times and temperatures and text notifications when food is done.
Whether for furniture pieces, appliances or bathroom fixtures, simple designs will be popular purchases for their versatility and modernity.
Some of these offerings are courtesy of technological developments, notes Marla Camins of Frank Advertising.
“There are bathroom products coming from manufacturers that weren’t imaginable just a few years ago,” she observes, such as patent-pending ceramic material from Laufen that will allow the bathroom manufacturer to develop more durable products with increasingly creative designs. Partnerships with architects and designers will likely fuel many of these design innovations, especially in aging-in-place products, and drive interest in recreating for the home the spa-like atmosphere that many consumers experience while vacationing.
“People are really looking to streamline and take away bulky basins of the past,” Camins states. “People go away on vacation, travel the world, then want to create that same spa-like feeling they had in Europe or while away.”
Feldman notices the same trends in outdoor furniture, where consumers are often looking for an extension of their existing style to help tie their inside and outside settings together.
“Price doesn’t matter, but they like the simple styles,” he explains, noting deep seating as a popular feature. “It has to feel like it’s a real extension of their house. If they have something similar in their living room, they’re likely to go with that.”
Varied pieces, such as the Scott Living collection introduced at the 2014 National Hardware Show, is a great example. The colorful accents in the collection also reflect the versatility in personalization that simple designs allow, which extends not just to furniture but to small appliances as well.