A Sense of Home Culture: Connection with Consumers Where They Live

"HOUSE BEAUTIFUL commissioned a comprehensive study to better understand the changing mindset of readers of many different magazines beside the shelter category. The research was conducted in three parts including focus groups with affluent women, interviews with a range of interior designers and online interviews with affluent magazine readers. Everyone was basically n their early 40's, owned their own home and had household incomes between $113,000 and $131,000.  

We found consumers between the ages of 35 and 44 spend about 20% ore than average consumers. Those between 45 and 54 spend 30% more. These two age groups represent about 40% of the US population and spend 50% of the money.

The second wave of Baby Boomers has a greater appetite for home than was originally thought.   They bought later in life largely because sky-high interest rates froze many of them out of the market in the 1980's. The bulk of the Baby Boom market will remain in the trade up market well past 2010. They are demanding bigger and better homes. The full benefit to the economy is greater than the $60 billion of new construction in the recent boom.

Our study also found a major shift in the US from a sense of 'self' culture, a 'me' culture from the 1980's and 1990's to a 'we.'   At House Beautiful, we call it a 'Sense of Home Culture.'   We learned that home has become the consumer's connection to everything in their lives: family, friends and community - to the past, present and future and the world outside.  

The research shows three societal trends driving this shift.  

  • Home continues to deliver as a great investment for consumers. People were already into their homes before 9-11; this event just accelerated the trend.  
  • Home is the best investment both financially and emotionally. Home defines people's personality more than anything else. More than their children, travel, car or clothes.  
  • Home is more than a place of shelter ; it's a canvas for self-expression by communicating a sense of style and personality.
  • Safety surfaced as a real concern for people for obvious reasons. They told us they wanted their home to be a safe haven and they want to know where their children are at all times. The former basement family room has now become the playroom. Home is the connection with the past, present and future. Having friends over is another major trend as staying in touch has become more important; the future is uncertain. Mixing and matching is something else we heard over and over, whether it was using inherited pieces with one's own and new purchases or mixing it up with color. It's interesting to note 50% of our readers are using fine china but their entertaining style is casual. Home is the connection to consumption.

    People who take pleasure in beautiful things look to magazines for their information. Even with the surge in TV decorating shows, magazines are still their primary source and connection for information."

    (above remarks presented by House Beautiful Associate Publisher Jeanne Noonan Eckholdt, October 2003 during the Fall New York Tabletop Market at Forty One Madison)