Upper End Consumers More Brand-Conscious, Survey Reveals

CHARLOTTE, NC — Upscale consumers apparently have very different mindsets than their counterparts with more moderate incomes when it comes to many kitchen-related measures.

That’s the overriding message found from the results in the most recent study – conducted online among a randomly selected group of 1,087 U.S. consumers – by the Research Institute for Cooking & Kitchen Intelligence (RICKI), an independent, membership-based organization of manufacturers, retailers, wholesalers and publications whose revenues come from sales related to activities that take place in the kitchen, including kitchen remodeling.

“We broke out this research to take a look at the data among three income groups, which we call Ultra-High-End, High-End and Moderate,” said Riley Kirby, chief of research for the Charlotte, NC-based RICKI.

Specifically, Ultra-High-End consumers were defined as those having reported a household income of $200,000 or more. By comparison, High-End consumers reported a household income between $100,000 and $199,999, and Moderate consumers reported a household income of less than $100,000.

According to RICKI, while the kitchen is largely considered by most Americans to be the heart of the home, Ultra-High-End consumers “are considerably more engaged in their kitchens, spend more money on kitchen improvements, and are much more likely to say the look of their kitchens reflects on them.”

Specifically, compared to their counterparts in the other two segments, Ultra-High-End consumers are:

  • Significantly more likely to agree with statements such as “I want my kitchen to say a lot about me” and “My kitchen is my favorite part of my home.”
  • Much more likely to spend higher amounts on kitchen improvements. Among those who improved their kitchens within the past year (not necessarily a complete remodel), Ultra High-End consumers actually spent more than three times as much as the consumers in the High-End group and almost eight times as much as those in the Moderate consumers’ group (a median of $16,250 vs. $5,450 and $2,100, respectively).
  • Much more likely to have hired a professional designer or architect for their project. Consumers at the uppermost household income are at least twice as likely as those in the other two household segments to have sought professional guidance from kitchen and bath designers or architects for their last kitchen project (41% vs. 21% and 12%, respectively).
  • Significantly more brand-conscious than consumers in the other two categories. For example, the study shows that consumers in the Ultra High-End group are around twice as likely as those in the other two groups to say that the statement “I believe that the brands I buy somehow reflect on me” describes them completely.

“While income is not the only way to segment consumers, this study does show that income is an extremely good indicator of how consumers will differ in their attitudes and behaviors when it comes to kitchen remodeling and product selection,” Kirby observed.

He further pointed out, however, that some of the study results also reveal similarities among consumers within the three groups.

For example, according to Kirby, “Granite countertops are still the overwhelmingly [popular material] choice preferred among consumers in all three segments. Furthermore, when the respondents were asked to pick from a list of 25 available products that they would want most in their dream kitchens, topping the list across all three of the consumer segments is customized storage solutions for cabinets.”

Kirby concluded: “When asked which specific element they would choose first if they were to begin remodeling a kitchen today, meaning the rest of the remodel would be designed primarily around that element, the top three items selected were actually identical for all three groups – cabinets were chosen first, followed then by countertops and lastly, cooking appliances.”

Study Uncovers American Consumer Attitudes Regarding ‘Green’

Benton Harbor, MI — The majority of American consumers want to live “green,” but only if it’s convenient to their lifestyle, according to a new study conducted on behalf of Whirlpool Corp.

The study, conducted by Harris Interactive late last year among some 2,000 consumers, also found that while finances are top of mind and consumers are hunting for a bargain, many are unwilling to compromise, searching until they “find the right product at the right price.”

Overall, the survey demonstrates that consumers are becoming more savvy about how best to spend – and save – their hard-earned money, according to the Benton Harbor, MI-based Whirlpool Corp., which markets Whirlpool, Maytag, KitchenAid, Jenn-Air, Amana and other major brand names.

In fact, the appliance manufacturer said, more than half of adults (59%) said they would rather spend more money now to save energy (and money) later when it comes to home appliances.

“As consumers begin to adopt a greener lifestyle, and the concept moves from trend to norm, we wanted to see if the collective mindset was shifting,” said Monica Teague, senior manager brand business teams for Whirlpool Corp. “We also know that people are still watching their wallets. What we discovered is that consumers want the easiest path toward efficiency and cost-savings, and will not compromise until they find it.”

According to Whirlpool Corp., 68% of surveyed adults said they do their best to be green to the extent that it fits into their lifestyles and their finances.

The survey also found that the majority of adults (68%) said they will search until they find the product they are looking for at the right price. Opinions varied by region, with those from the South indicating that they will search until they find the product they are looking for at the right price (77%), while Midwesterners indicated that they will buy what is on sale (25%).

Men and women also demonstrated differing opinions, Whirlpool Corp. said. The company noted that more women (71%), as opposed to men (65%), are willing to search until they find the product they are looking for at the right price.