As we walked the halls of the 2019 International Home and Housewares Show at McCormick Place in Chicago last month, we were surprised by how much hasn’t changed.
But there are new ideas that reflect how differently millennials and Gen Z think. Here’s our list of top trends from the 2019 International Home and Housewares Show:
1. Multi-functional appliances: Once they move out of their parents’ home, millennials tend to choose smaller homes, and that’s affecting the types of appliances and housewares they buy and how they store them. Today, lots of appliances are multi-functional. The most popular item we saw was a MultiPot. The idea is to cook a full meal, or at least a couple of different parts of it, simultaneously, in one pot. There are dozens of versions of this idea manufactured all over the world, include a variety of options from Instant Pot, Aroma’s multicooker, and Cuchen’s IH Robot Cooker (which has nothing to do with robots or artificial intelligence).
2. Micro-appliances: Sometimes appliances don’t do more than one thing. But they’re designed to do that one thing for one person. Micro-appliances such as waffle makers that make a single, small waffle, for example, popped up everywhere.
3. All-in-one storage containers: We were also surprised to see the number of companies that have created containers and storage devices that allow people to carry around with them a full meal on the go. Some of these insulated containers had separate compartments for three distinct food groups: Hot soup, a sandwich and a slice of pie can all be put into one container, but each food type has its own storage unit and can be hot or cold without interfering with the other foods.
4. Containers smarter than a fifth-grader: In this same line, some storage devices or containers, like the Thermos Connected Hydration Bottle with Smart Lid, contain electronics designed to sync with your phone or watch and track your food and liquid intake. So, no more cheating on the amount of water you drink.
5. Everything folds up: From food dehydrators that completely flatten down and laundry baskets that fold up to tables that rise up with the touch of a button, we were amazed at the number of ordinary household products that have been re-engineered to fit into smaller spaces.
6. CBD everywhere: Whether you’re in the legalize camp or totally opposed to it, cannabidiol (CBD), the non-THC parts of the marijuana plant, are coming to housewares items near you. At the show, we were interested to see CBD oil sprays and infusers in many products, but especially in air diffusers, purification systems and filtration systems.
7. Grow your own everything: We’ve seen a number of systems over the years that allow you to grow your own vegetables and herbs, but this year, there seemed to be even more options. Several, including Aspara, by Growgreen, offer LED lighting with variable spectrum and built-in sensors that help you know when to add water to the system. Growing systems don’t come cheap, by the way. Expect your home-grown organic lettuce grower to run anywhere from $100 to $500.
8. The appliance of the year: It’s tough to make great french fries at home. And all that oil makes a mess. But it’s easier if you’re using an air fryer, which, alongside the MultiPot, was ubiquitous at this year’s show. We tried some of the french fries, and they weren’t too bad: Crunchy all the way through. Not sure it’s enough to get us to buy one more appliance. After all, Ilyce still hasn’t taken her Instant Pot out of the box.
Ilyce Glink is the author of “100 Questions Every First-Time Home Buyer Should Ask” (4th Edition). She is also the CEO of Best Money Moves, an app that employers provide to employees to measure and dial down financial stress. Samuel J. Tamkin is a Chicago-based real estate attorney. Contact them through her website, ThinkGlink.com.