Westcoast is part of Europe’s leading window group, Inwido, which encompasses business units covering windows, doors, improved comfort, indoor climate and safety, as well as associated services and accessories for customers and consumers in Europe.
As a European group, it is important for Inwido to understand the variations between consumers in the different markets, because window and door markets are very localised.
In this, their fourth Inwido trend report, they interviewed nearly 3,400 consumers in Denmark, England, Finland, Norway, and Sweden.
What does the Inwido trend report cover?
The Inwido trend report has previously examined the relationship the consumer has with its home (2012), how consumers view the relationship with craftsmen (2014) and the smart home (2017).
In this report, one of the trends focusses on smart homes and here we see clear progress towards the whole smart home via home networks.
Consumers also want to measure and monitor more in their homes, most clearly now with apps that measure and control energy consumption.
Five home trends for the next five years:
1. Energy is top of the home agenda
Although home energy efficiency has been high on the agenda among homeowners in the past, it is now at the very top. Rampant inflation and lower disposable income combined with an energy crisis means that more people not only look to reduce energy consumption, but also examine if and how the home itself can be used for energy production.
Renovating for return on investment:
Where previously home renovators have been looking to improve their homes with luxury items such as hot tubs, jacuzzies and swimming pools, they are now more focused on energy and sustainability. Demand for energy efficient heating systems such as air source heat pumps has increased dramatically in countries dependant on fossil fuels, such as the UK. As investments in green tech surge with increased efficiency and rapid upscaling, solar energy is now the cheapest form of electricity in history, according to the International Energy Agency. Demand for solar panels has skyrocketed, as homeowners pursue electricity production in the home, contributing to a shift in the view of the home only as a consumption arena to an arena for energy production.
GLASS will play an important role in energy-proofing homes
New windows play an important role in energy-proofing homes; reducing draft and thereby lowering energy bills. In the future, energy-producing windows could become increasingly important. Scientists are working on improving the efficiency of transparent solar panels. One startup company has invented a coating which can turn windows into transparent solar panels.
2. Reinforcing the ‘castle’
In turbulent times, “my home is my castle” sums up the attitude of Northern European homeowners. When the outside world shakes, there is a need to equip, strengthen and secure that castle, as it is one of the most valuable things we own.
Building for climate resilience:
Climate change has caused more extreme weather during the last few years and will continue to do so. More storms, floodings and wildfires means more severe damage to buildings, incurring high repair costs and making insurers hesitant to cover disaster-prone homes. As a result, new companies specialising in climate-resistant buildings and materials arise, leading to new methods of construction. Amphibious houses that sit on solid ground but float during extreme storms and floods already exist in theUK, Netherlands, and Japan and is seen as a future possibility elsewhere too.
Smart tech from individual to integrated:
During the last couple of decades, the home has slowly but surely become more digitalised and “smarter”, but not at the pace previously imagined. Smart TVs and robotic vacuum cleaners are common features in many homes, but several different apps are often needed to manage the devices, leading to a cumbersome experience.
As AI continues to improve, and the rollout of 5G allows for a more reliable IoT, we will see more stability and easier management of smart home solutions. A new smart home industry standard launched in 2022 allows devices from companies such as Apple, Google, and Amazon to work together, leading to easier integration and more seamless experiences.
Today, high-end new construction often comes with integrated smart home systems. As the cost of such integrated technology falls, mass adoption is likely to follow. A future where the home and smart tech are more in symbiosis than ever before is increasingly likely, given the integration of the technology in the buildings. In short, gadgets and cables everywhere will give way to seamlessly integrated smart home solutions.
Security – Defending the home and prepping for every eventuality:
A perception of insecurity across Northern Europe has caused homeowners to consider the security of their home. For some, this means securing the home against burglary by installing surveillance cameras or various protective sensors.
For others, it means preparing for social crises, by stockpiling water, medications, food, and other necessities.
3. Green Transition of Home Consumption
A green transition is becoming increasingly urgent for all levels of society. Globally, it is at the top of the agenda, and many eyes are now directed towards solutions to reverse the negative impact of climate change.
Recycling goes mainstream:
The home is not excluded from the green transition, and within its four walls the severity of the climate crisis has made consumers review their habits and how they can be made more sustainable. Recent years have witnessed an increased interest in recycling and secondhand shopping. This is not least reflected in the fact that several large companies have noticed the trend and acted on it: well-known brands have now integrated recycling as a part of existing business models. The furniture giant IKEA, for example, has opened recycling hubs in selected department stores where they buy, restore, and resell used furniture.
Budget sustainability on the rise:
In line with rising inflation and a strained economy for most people, there have been fears that sustainable consumption would lose steam in favour of more basic needs. However, rather than drop off the radar, consumers’ sustainability focus has shifted towards more budget-friendly alternatives (for example, they show less interest in the latest fashion trends in favour of cheaper options). With regards to consumption of windows and doors, Northern European homeowners are clearly still very sustainability oriented –
88% of Northern European homeowners have a sustainability aspect they are not willing to compromise on when buying new windows and doors.
Dreaming of self-sufficiency:
Another aspect of the green transition of home consumption is the dream of living self-sufficiently, where growing vegetables, acquiring backyard chickens as well as solar panels is gaining popularity. A reaction to mass production society, the trend is driven by an urge for a lifestyle where the self-produced is seen as more climate-friendly, economic, healthy, and genuine. The interest in living self-sufficiently is found both in households and in local communities, where digitalisation enables new ways of farming, seen in the exchange of seeds, cultivation areas, and services online.
29% of urban homeowners surveyed for this report would rather live in the countryside
4. Counter-urbanisation in search of great homes
There have been many reasons for urbanisation during the last few centuries; factory jobs, access to work, education, improved infrastructure or simply a longing for urban life.
However, in recent years the urban lifestyle has lost its attraction, with many leaving the UK and Northern European capitals in search of larger homes, a rural life, reduced costs and a better work/life balance. Although the pandemic has a hand in this, the trend does predate the pandemic in several capitals.
Thirst for nature:
The increasingly popular dream of a home in the countryside aligns with a greater societal trend for all things nature and non-artificial. In homes this translates to a ‘clean’ environment, using less plastic and a preference towards natural products, such as lemon, vinegar and bicarbonate. There is also a passion for bringing nature into the home with houseplants and growing your own produce. Sales of greenhouses have increased exponentially, especially among young adults who are prioritising gardens over holidays abroad.
Face lift of second homes:
For those who would like to leave the big city, but are unable, a second home provides the opportunity to have a slice of country life without the full-time commitment. Although previously we were seeing a rise in the purchase of second homes, this has now slowed, however they remain an important factor for those who already own one. In fact homeowners are now planning to invest and improve on their second homes, with 44% planning a major renovation in the next five years.
5. Consumers take and lose control
Many consumers are incredibly well-informed about what they buy, and about their own habits, representing an obvious urge for control. Although equally there are signs they are willing to let go of some decisions, or at least delegate the power to an artificial intelligence.
Control freak consumers:
“Taking back control” has been a feeling amongst consumers in response to the current turbulent times. The urgency of the climate crisis, along with increasingly strained cost of living has made people keep track of their habits to a greater extent. Digitalisation is a major enabler for people to channel this increased need for control and guide them through large and small decisions, in real time. Smart meters help consumers to keep track of energy consumption and cost, while banking apps allow for greater control of their finances. For homeowners, being able to control all aspects of the home is of increasing importance.
Measuring and monitoring mania:
In line with the increased need for control, and because of the opportunities generated from digitalisation, consumers can now track and measure everything around them. This trend is not limited to home consumption, but part of a larger development towards a quantifiable society. For example, home monitoring has long been at the core of home security and has been accelerated by apps notifying the homeowners of suspicious activities. The market for home security systems is growing at a tremendous rate and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 7% between 2021 and 2026 globally. In recent years, a variety of apps measuring and monitoring people’s health status have also emerged, underlining the main take away here: everything that can be measured, will be measured.
Decision support on a new level:
Control and measurement mania has been made possible by digitalisation. The natural step now, in parallel with digitalisation and the collection of massive amounts of data, is the use of AI support in decision making. There are multiple AI-based apps suggesting home decor, wallpapers, or even the interior design for a whole room. Interior AI is an example of an AI-based application generating interior design suggestions by letting the user upload an image of a selected room and choose a preferred style. The free AI language tool ChatGPT went viral quickly after its release, as it can provide human-like answers to virtually any question. Some users have asked the application to generate both real and fantasy design concepts, and used the answers to create visualisations with the AI image generator Midjourney. While the examples above offer a glimpse of what the future of AI decision-making in the home might look like, this is just one of countless areas in which AI has proven successful in decision-making, which is why Gartner has named it a top trend for 2022.
In this report, Inwido looked at the future of homes from a consumer perspective.
Recent years have truly been a rollercoaster for homeowners, where the Covid-19 pandemic and the following inflation and interest rate surge fundamentally altered home consumption.
Together with transformations like climate change and digitalisation, the road for home ownership and home consumption in the upcoming years is looking rocky.
To find out what this means for home consumption going forward, Inwido combined thorough trend research and expert interviews with a survey of almost 3,400 Northern European homeowners from Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark, and England.
The main conclusions are:
- Fundamental home values are rock solid. Homeowners love their homes and see them as havens of stability and peace when the world is in turmoil. Home consumption is not the place for revolutions, but reforms.
- Short term anxious home consumption. In the short term, homeowners will be nervous about the financial situation and behaviours like obsessive energy saving and cost control mania will be amplified. Fear will guide consumer decisions to a high extent, and the focus on energy means that consumers will have a greater influence on home consumption.
- Long term stable home consumption. In the long term, as inflation eventually diminishes, the path leads towards sustainability at a “micro level” primarily regarding materials, and aligned with fundamental home values such as comfort, beauty, and tranquility.
- Counter-urbanization without fully letting go. While there truly is an exodus from the large cities in Northern Europe, home consumers tend not to move far from urban centres, merely to the outskirts of commuter zones. Some let time in their second home quench their thirst for nature. High home and/or second home spending follows the exodus from urbanity.
- AI-guided home decisions rather than gadgets and cables. We face a rise in built-in, app-based, and AI-based smarter homes, instead of gadget-based smart home solutions. The AI-guided home decisions we are beginning to see now are merely seeds of a future, more sophisticated home decision-making process, with person and machine working together.
Homes are going through stormy times in the short term due to a sudden spike in inflation. Although we will experience economic ups and downs in the following years, this report demonstrates that many aspects of home consumption are quite stable in the long term. All in all, after decades of turbulence turning into stormy weather for homeowners and home consumption, we might, when looking towards the horizon, catch a glimpse of what homeowners ultimately want in their homes: serenity and security.
Westcoast is part of the Inwido Group of companies, providing Swedish manufactured aluminium timber composite windows to commercial and domestic customers in the UK.
To contact our UK team please call 01359 241944 or email email@example.com