Values and vanity: how retailers can appeal to nesters

At last weeks Retail NZ’s shop.kiwi event, the CEO of the US National Retail Federation Matthew Shay said a shift in attitudes towards spending means consumers are spending more in houses and home renovations.

While he was referring to the US, we decided to see whether Kiwis have cottoned onto this ‘nesting’ trend as well.

Chris Wilkinson, managing director of First Retail Group, describes nesting culture as the return to heritage values and the comfortable and familiar.

This became clear in consumers’ reactions to the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) of 2008.

Wilkinson says when the GFC hit, consumers began to think twice about what they were spending and re-prioritised where they saw value.

In an effort to save money, there was a lifestyle change where consumers began doing more for themselves including sewing, baking, cooking and repairs.

After the GFC, the hospitality industry’s sales went up but the retail industry remained static, with research showing purchases are more considered, as consumers remain purposeful and conscious of waste.

“People are over buying stuff,” Wilkinson says.

He refers to Fly Buys advertising as one of the biggest fails because it’s constantly referring to “stuff”.

Instead, he says successful businesses are those which can leverage those good old fashion nesting values, something hardware and furnishing stores can do well.

Although consciousness about spending saw an increase in consumers doing things for themselves, DIY home renovations declined.

Wilkinson says there was a fear of renovating homes “because if you spent money, you weren’t getting that back”.

However, as house prices are now increasing, so too has confidence in investing money on homes because consumers know they will be rewarded for it.

According to Statistics New Zealand’s Retail Trade Survey, hardware, building, and garden supplies recorded the largest sales volume increase in the December quarter, up 5.3 per cent.

The value of sales also rose 5.5 percent in the same quarter.

Wilkinson says the bombardment of home renovation media is also boosting consumer confidence in nesting.

He says programmes like The Block push aspirational themes demonstrate the possibilities homeowners can do themselves.

With emphasis put on both building and decorating, hardware stores and furnishing stores are reaping the rewards, he says.

One store making the most of the nesting trend is Farmers, as it recently collaborated with Bauer Media to launch the Your Home and Garden homeware range.

Shelley Ferguson, managing editor of the magazine says entering the retail market with a range of tableware, kitchenware, bathroom ware, bedlinen and décor pieces is a natural extension of the brand.

Your Home and Garden is known and loved for creative interior ideas and this beautiful new range brings the magazine’s aesthetic to life, with quality pieces which mix and match together, at affordable price points.”

Farmers divisional merchandise controller Mark Prusher emphasises the way the new range allows customers to mix and match difference pieces together.

He says it’s patronising when retailers ram the idea down customers’ throats that they should “buy this and it will make your home look a certain way”.

Instead, customers should have a choice in what they put in their home.

By offering a number of ranges that look good together, he says the homeware department satisfies consumers who are increasingly take on the aspirational themes pushed in both editorial and social media.

As a result, the Farmers homeware department is “growing like never before”.

Consumers now feel the need to to express themselves in not only what they wear but also how they dress their homes, he says, meaning they shop for a look, rather than shopping for a particular item out of necessity.

“Home is a place to express personality as well as a place to live. They don’t buy a set of glasses because one broke, they buy it because they’ve seen an image of it and they want it.”

One of Farmers competitors, The Warehouse, is also on top of this trend.

Last week it rolled out a new homewares range that looks like something straight out of a Pinterest board.  

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