4 February 2016
Once upon a time environmental awareness was only appreciated by a niche group within society, however over the last few years, we have begun to witness a refreshing change in consumer habits. In our 2016 Home Insight report we discussed how sustainability is no longer a preference or a bonus but an essential prerequisite that consumers expect brands to reflect with genuine commitment.
Despite this, IKEA’s head of sustainability, Steve Howard has recently spoken out about consumer’s perception that products that are affordable are somehow also disposable. He said: “We’ve got to challenge that. We think it’s our obligation as a business to make sure there are good channels available for people to resell products that are good and when products are actually finished, those are recycled as well.”
IKEA have spoken about ways to respond to this perception since 2011 and have since focused on creating a ‘circular store’, a concept where customers are able to repair or recycle their expired couches, mattresses and rugs. A circular economy is a practical solution to the planets emerging resource problems and if more businesses shared Steve Howard’s vision perhaps environmental issues could be stabilised.
In France and Belgium, ‘IKEA’s Second Life for Furniture’ pilot program lets customers bring old items into the store in exchange for store vouchers. This way, the donor has a wallet of IKEA money ready to spend on something new, leading to the cycle continuing. In contrast to this, the company is also finding it doesn’t necessarily need to lure people with rewards as many consumers are already anxious about waste and care about finding a solution.
Whilst Steve Howard said during The Guardian’s Sustainable Business debate in January, that western consumers’ demand for home furnishings has hit a pinnacle, he carried on to emphasise that the statement didn’t undermine IKEA’s target of doubling sales by 2020. This is due to the furniture giant making steps towards a more environmentally friendly approach – something every retailer should be recognising in 2016 and beyond.
Trend Bible work with a number of furniture and lifestyle brands to help them unpick this notion of longevity, exploring the idea that sustainability does not mean the end of consumption. One aspect of this is looking at ‘needs responsive’ products, predicting how consumers’ home furnishings need to change and adapt over time. We have seen an increase in innovative furniture with a transformative quality, allowing it to evolve and stay relevant as households grow and inhabitants’ needs change. Here we share one of our favourite examples.
Stokke’s Care is a practical storage solution with the transitioning ability to go from a changing table, to a desk and finally in to a bookcase. A piece of furniture that will literally evolve with your child’s, or your own, needs. Similarly, Oeuf’s XL Station begins as a luxurious changing tray but when that function is no longer needed it can be transformed into a sleek hanging unit.
Trend Bible constantly question and probe the nature of sustainability and we spend our time profiling what this might look like in the future. We have helped a number of brands recognise this change in consumption and have helped them evolve and futureproof their sustainability strategy.
As Trend Forecasters, we continually monitor change in consumer attitudes and spending habits and analyse what impact this will have on businesses and in the home. Get in touch today to find out how future sustainability and consumption trends will impact life at home for your customers.
Overall a great day which involved getting everyone's thoughts, ideas and reservations down on paper. I am looking forward to seeing how this information will be overlaid with the vital trend insights we need to drive new product development and long-term business growth.
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