Management Report “Female Shift” analyses the living environments of the future for women and men

The well-being factor is more relevant for women than for men.

The well-being factor is more relevant for women than for men.

The Heimtextil 2013 Management Report entitled “Female Shift” illuminates the changes happening in the living environments of women and men. In collaboration with the Zukunftsinstitut, it succeeded in honing in on six trend areas which will be pivotal in shaping the home textiles industry in the future. “For industry and trade, the report’s findings provide a useful jumping off point to innovatively develop textile living,” reports Olaf Schmidt, Vice President of Textiles & Textile Technologies at Messe Frankfurt.

The key questions investigated in the Heimtextil study were: what influence will the female shift mega trend have on the consumer market? What role will men play as a target group in the home textiles market? Are quality expectations, design and value for products changing? And last but not least, how can manufacturers and retailers innovatively seize these trends and respond to new developments? The Zukunftsinstitut was able to pinpoint the following trends:

Individual requirements trump price

No generation of women has been as highly qualified and ambitious as the current generation. Today women are financially more independent, which in turn means that they make roughly 80% of all purchasing decisions. At the same time, roles and partnership models – not to mention the standards set for living and so too home textiles – are changing. The way something makes these consumers feel is more important than price. Roughly 75 percent are sensitive to whether home textiles positively influence their sense of well-being.

High quality standards with a desire for functionality and flexibility

Both men and women feel that more and more demands are being placed on them, requiring greater flexibility in their professional and private lives. And so they are also expecting more for their own homes. The private living area is no longer reserved for family life, leisure and a place to unwind after work. It is increasingly becoming a “control centre” to manage the complexities of day-to-day living. Quality is key for a feel-good living atmosphere. 70 percent of those surveyed listed quality as a decisive criterion when making a purchase. Lifespan, durability, functionality and practicality were amongst the top five criteria when purchasing interior decorating items for both men and women.

The way to a man’s heart: in-depth support and sales consultation

Women do not just want to be masters of their professional lives, they also want to determine the residential setting of their private lives. 36 percent of women and 31 percent of men say that they would love to keep changing their décor. That fact that most German flats and houses see very little change is simply due to a lack of time and information. That is why speciality shops and consultants that help in the decorating, remodelling and renovating process and give advice are becoming significant, especially for the male target group. Consultation by competent salespeople when it comes to interior decorating is more important to men than women (42 percent vs. 34 percent).

Home as a hyper-personalised space

Women’s growing independence and professionalism, as well as rising mobility, are playing out in a variety of ways on lifestyle and partnership models. Single-person households account for 40% of homes in Germany. But that does not mean that all these people are single. “Living apart together” is becoming the phrase describing an increasing number of couples who maintain their own flats but also cohabitate. Often for job-related reasons, a temporary second home is far from uncommon – and this is becoming more prevalent amongst women. This gives rise to completely different living needs, with one’s home becoming a highly personalised sanctuary. For forward-looking offers relating to home textiles, it will thus be key to address individual needs and so to take into account different target groups, lifestyles and living conditions to a greater extent instead of offering “one size fits all” standard products.

Woman-made: female designers conquer the creative sector

A sector formerly dominated by men is becoming women’s turf. An increasing number of women are completing degrees in design and interior decorating. Over the next several years, female graduates will overtake their male colleagues for the first time ever. Here too the female shift is apparent. While men have shaped the interior decorating and living landscape over the last century – Alvar Aalto, Verner Panton, Eero Saarinen, to name but a few – a new ambitious generation of women designers is emerging. From Kati Meyer-Brühl to Patricia Urquiola, Hella Jongerius and Fanny Aronsen, women are changing the world of design more than ever. Designers increasingly understand and recognise the needs of modern women and offer the right answers with creative solutions for their living environments.

The new man: a good design sense enhances attractiveness

Female shift does not only mean that women’s influence is rising. One effect that simply cannot be overlooked in the women’s empowerment in society is the trend towards a “new man”. Increasing independence amongst women is strengthening their self-awareness, resulting in new standards and expectations for men. Regardless of whether it is on the job or at home, it is becoming more common for men to be judged according to “softer” – formerly “female” – criteria. That requires that they also have a new aesthetic sensibility. Especially when it comes to style and design in interior decorating, women indicated that men have quite a bit of catching up to do. 57 percent believe that men are more attractive when their interior decorating shows good taste. The fact that men agree just as much (55 percent) shows that the message is loud and clear.

The bottom line: the gap is narrowing

The changing lives of women on the one hand has in turn entailed the changing roles of men on the other. There are no longer any hard and fast borders. The answer lies first and foremost in approaching one another while appreciating individual needs and standards across the board.

The detailed Management Report can be downloaded here.

Stefan Jakob

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