retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Fast Company has a piece about Ikea’s ongoing efforts “to better understand people’s relationships with their homes,” which has resulted in “in-depth sociological studies of its consumers.”

In its most recent study, the story says, Ikea found that “our fundamental notions of home and family are experiencing a transformation. Plenty of demographic research suggests that major changes in where and how we live could be afoot: For instance, people who marry later may spend more years living with roommates. If couples delay having children - or choose to remain child-free - they may choose to live longer in smaller apartments. As people live longer, we might find more multigenerational homes, as parents, children, and grandchildren all cohabit under one roof.”

Ikea’s research also found something else interesting: “Many of the people in its large study were not particularly satisfied with their domestic life. For one thing, they’re increasingly struggling to feel a sense of home in the places they live; 29% of people surveyed around the world felt more at home in other places than the space where they live every day. A full 35% of people in cities felt this way … Ikea also found that a quarter of people leave their home to find alone time, and 60% of people bring their work home.”

You can read the story here.
KC's View:
Ikea, quote naturally, has a significant interest in how people feel about their home and surroundings - its entire business model is predicated on people feeling good about the places they live and about the furnishings they acquire for those abodes.

Which means, if people are going to be living with roommates, or marrying and not having children, or living to advanced ages, that different kinds of homes have to be available to them that respect their needs and desires - which are not, the story suggests, always the same thing.

It also is interested that more than a third of people living in cities feel less connected than one might think to their living conditions; could it be that urbanization, which we talk about here on MNB a lot, isn’t entirely a matter of choice, but rather a matter of circumstance and trend lines beyond the control of many people affected by them?

The reason I direct you to this story is that all these trends, as much as they affect where people live, also are going to affect how people eat and cook and shop for food. These are shifts that food retailers and manufacturers need to pay attention to, because they will affect the size and shape of stores, the packaging used in those stores, and the kinds of products that people are going to want and need - which, again, isn’t always the same thing. These changes are going to require retailers and suppliers to have a far more granular feel for the marketplace than perhaps they have in the past … because if they don’t invest in actionable knowledge and then act on it, they are likely to be left behind.