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Which trends offer opportunities or pose threats on the European home decoration and home textiles market?

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Millennials and Gen Z people are quickly becoming the main consumers and professional buyers in Europe. As such, they are strongly influencing home decoration and home textile (HDHT) brands and strategies in the market. Their key buying motive concerns how products for the home can improve their mental and physical wellness. Sustainability is one important aspect in this regard. These consumers want brands that are actively trying to make the world a better place through social and environmental responsibility.

1. Sector transformation:Millennials and Gen Z consumers focus on well-being

In the coming decade, the European HDHT market will progress in a largely organic manner from its existing main directions:

  • Sustainability will become a more mainstream value.
  • Distribution chains will become shorter.
  • Digitalisation in marketing and services will become even more important.

The most disruptive transformation in HDHT, however, will take place with regard to the buying motives of consumers. In the 2030s, a new generation of consumers will be in charge: a mix of millennials (who will be in their forties or fifties by then) and Gen Z people (who will be in their thirties). Professional buyers are also increasingly from these generations. Their values will shape the products that are produced and sold, as well as how.

The market will need to offer these consumers products that can help them achieve their personal goals. Their key buying motive is based on how products for their homes can improve their mental and physical wellness. Simply stated, these new consumers want to feel good about their buying. They are likely to prefer offers that improve their well-being and that provide meaningful social and/or environmental benefits. These topics are closely related. For example, 6 in 10 millennials and Gen Z people feel guilty about their negative impact on the environment. Sustainability is thus another core buying motive.

European HDHT companies must adjust

In many ways, European HDHT importers, retailers and brands need to move closer to this new group of consumers in order to fulfil their many personal wellness needs. Marketers need to know what triggers them. They must study which buying behaviours determine the various market segments, how these consumers live and work, and what the disposable income of each group is. This will call for in-depth market intelligence and a more outward-oriented approach to marketing.

Millennial and Gen Z consumers care about social and environmental sustainability. European businesses need to take a stand, actively embracing sustainable values and practices, and allowing complete transparency about their buying and staffing policies. This will trigger more loyalty from the new consumers than traditional branding practices will. In line with this, consumer buying behaviour will be driven by the relative acceptability of certain countries of origin and political systems.

At the same time, the new generations of consumers are more open to new cultures and origins, bringing new design influences and stories. Storytelling creates a way for consumers to satisfy their need to learn about new techniques, materials and cultures, as well as to start developing similar skills themselves. Once consumers have been engaged through storytelling, companies will build loyalty.

To tell these stories, European HDHT businesses also need to use their communications to bring them closer to the new consumers. They should move more of their sales and marketing online and use social media more effectively. They should also be more open to consumer reviews and influencers, as millennial and Gen Z consumers are more likely to trust their peers than they are to trust formal marketing messages. Closeness in communication also relates to content, which should be brief and to-the-point, visual and transparent. More than any previous consumer groups, these consumers believe in proof rather than trust.

Co-creation in design is another form of closeness. Consumers want to be involved in the design process, whether through feedback loops, by having brand champions/influencers from their own group involved in the design of products, or simply by being able to modify products at home.

European HDHT businesses are facing a generation of consumers who demand complete convenience in buying (digital, 24/7, delivered and easily returned). Because they are increasingly urban and living in small spaces, product offerings should be clever and practical to suit a variety of purposes. Shared living  will also demand specific efforts in terms of design and marketing.

Finally, closeness relates to the more fragmented, impulse-based and personal buying behaviour of the new consumer group. This requires shorter selling cycles, which are also less dependent on traditional ideas of seasonality. It also requires shorter production cycles, with less volume and yet with competitive prices.

Business models are evolving

The business models that can deliver the wellness benefits that the new consumers are seeking will be:

  • Sustainable – Value-driven concepts with social and environmental values and practices at their core. Companies that innovate from sustainability principles, stand for something and are proactive in engaging the market in their approach to a better world. Companies that live their values, including in terms of human resource management.
  • Connected – Marketing concepts or outward-looking companies that have created a central place for market intelligence (gradually including big data and artificial intelligence), customer-relationship management (from design to feedback loops from users) and active sales.
  • Creative – In a world and market that will become increasingly complex and unpredictable, winning companies are those who create changes, rather than continuously adjusting to them. For these companies, design plays the leading role in terms of product, production, service, staff policy and marketing.


2. Sustainability: social and environmental responsibility

Sustainability is quickly becoming part of the core needs of consumers, including in HDHT. An impressive 86% of all European consumers consider sustainability either important or very important, and 29% buy sustainable products deliberately and consciously. Rather than consuming less, people want to consume better. The emerging consumer groups — millennials and Gen Z — are committed to creating a better world, and baby boomers are increasingly wanting to contribute. This creates a sense of urgency and consumer power that will reshape the HDHT industry.

Solutions are expected first and foremost from the industry, in terms of improving both their environmental footprint and their social norms and practices. Companies today are expected to take a stand, to engage in important political discussions and to embrace diversity and inclusivity. In addition, they should practise what they preach in terms of the fairness of their own internal human resource and supplier policies. Corporate businesses should no longer be simply ‘businesses’; they are expected to play a visible and leading role in creating a fairer and more ethical society.

True sustainability is a combination of:

  • People: social aspects
  • Planet: environmental aspects
  • Profit: aspects like the affordability, marketability, productivity and up-scalability of sustainable product offerings

Figure 1: CBI webinar on sustainability in the European market for HDHT

The importance of both environmental and social responsibility in HDHT is reflected in the results of a recent survey of British consumers. Only 11% of the respondents said that they did not value any environmentally sustainable or ethical practices in particular for furniture and homeware.

Source: Deloitte

European legislation is also moving towards increased sustainability, thus making it a requirement rather than an option. With the European Green Deal, the European Union (EU) strives to become climate-neutral by 2050. New and updated legislation that will be implemented in the coming years will make sustainability a requirement.

Impending EU sustainability legislation

The European Commission has started to develop a variety of proposals for new and updated green and social legislation. Particularly relevant proposals for the HDHT sector include:

The new Regulation on deforestation came into force in June 2023, and it will apply starting in December 2024. 

One main building block of the Green Deal is the circular economy action plan. In a circular economy, waste is eliminated through such concepts as repair, reuse and recycling.

Figure 3: European Parliament – Repair, reuse and recycle!

Source: European Parliament @ YouTube

A typical product lifecycle consists of five aspects or stages. To move towards a circular economy, the end of a product’s life should start a new cycle. This ensures that waste no longer ends up in landfill, but can be regenerated into new materials, thereby starting a new lifecycle. 

Figure 4: Five stages of a circular product lifecycle

Five stages of a circular product lifecycle

Source: CBI Sustainable Design training material

It is possible to introduce more environmentally friendly and socially responsible practices in each of the five stages. As a producer, you have the most control over sustainable practices in the first three stages: material, production and distribution.

Table 1: Examples of environmentally and socially sustainable practices in each stage of the product lifecycle

Environmentally friendly practicesSocially responsible practices
  1. Material
Using materials that are renewable, local, recycled/recyclable and/or waste products or byproductsFair deals with suppliers, empowerment of the local communities that cultivate your natural materials
  1. Production
Avoiding pollution, producing energy efficiently, recycling waste, using renewable energy (e.g. solar power).Fair wages, equal representation/diversity, proper health and safety standards
  1. Distribution
Reducing transport, packing products efficiently and with sustainable materials, designing products to save space during transportFair deals with distributors, transparency about the value chain
  1. Usage
Designing products to be durable, timeless and/or multi-purposeProduct labels about product content that meet the EU legal requirements provide consumer protection and help prevent accidents during the use of the product. Care labels help consumers prolong the quality and lifespan of items.
  1. End-of-life
Using biodegradable materials, designing products to be easily dismantled, offering take-back policiesTake-back policies help consumers to reduce their waste and contribute to a better climate. ‘Right to repair’ policies help consumers prolong the lifespan of items and give them the feeling that they are leading a less wasteful life.

Ashoka Exports offers a wide variety of jute and cotton bags, including shoppers, laptop bags and pouches for bathroom accessories. To achieve their mission of ‘Greening Growth Globally’, they use verifiable and transparent social and environmental compliance measures — including the Sedex social audit SMETA, and the GOTS (organic cotton) and GRS (recycled cotton) standards. Ashoka also provides medical insurance to its employees and consistently invests in development projects for the community through its association with the local chapters of Lions Club International.

One topical trend related to environmental sustainability is material innovation, which involves developing alternative sustainable materials and end products for the HDHT market.

Material innovations can be divided into three categories:

  • Recycling post-industrial or pre-consumer/post-consumer waste: well-established practices, including re-using off-cuts from the garment industry in home textiles, or using ocean plastics in furniture or curtains
  • Engineering ‘from the lab’: especially on the part of big industry, using technology or chemical processes to reduce the use of polluting or scarce resources and create (e.g. dyes or faux leather) from bacteria or molecular engineering
  • Applying agricultural side products or excess harvests: possibly the latest in material innovations in HDHT, including the creation of new textiles from pineapple-leaf fibres or orange peels

Figure 5: CBI webinar on sustainable innovations for your HDHT business

Source: YouTube

Malai has developed a durable and compostable vegan bio-composite material, made entirely from organic and sustainable bacterial cellulose grown on agricultural waste from the coconut industry. The company works alongside Southern India’s coconut farmers and processing units, whose ‘waste’ coconut water would normally be released into the drainage system and cause pollution. Malai rescues this coconut water and uses it to create a flexible material that works as faux leather for bags, as well as for home and fashion textiles.

Figure 6: Malai — Circular material based on coconut waste

Source: Malai @ YouTube

In another interesting development, colour trends in HDHT are slowing down. The designer and trend forecasting communities are questioning the endless and fast-moving cycles of colour innovation. Many colours have the potential to last much longer, across more than one season. Mix Magazine by Colour Hive refers to such longer-lasting colours as ‘continuity colours’. Viewpoint Colour also supports this approach: ‘We believe that colour trends must slow down [...] and this forecast aims to promote slowly evolving cycles that consider colour longevity and endurance’.

If colour trends slow down, product life cycles will become longer, as products will become unfashionable less quickly. Instead, consumers will appreciate certain colours longer, making products more timeless. This will reduce ‘throwawayism’ by the same consumers, as well as in retail and manufacturing — thereby creating less waste and helping to slow down the use of the earth’s resources.


Millennial and Gen Z consumers will be the main force in the market for the coming decades. They have a sense of urgency and activism, and they believe that they can influence things through their buying behaviour. More specifically, they wish to buy from companies that contribute to a better world. In addition, sustainability is a central and integrated part of their wellness needs. The COVID-19 pandemic increased the importance of sustainability for millennials and Gen Z people even more than it did for older generations. This trend is likely to continue growing, given that these generations will become the dominant consumers and professional buyers in the coming decade.

Figure 7: Kave Circular

Source: Kave Home @ YouTube

According to a 2022 Deloitte survey, 34% of British adult respondents had stopped buying certain brands or products due to ethical or sustainability-related concerns — a 21% increase since 2021. Although cost is generally a major barrier — 72% of the respondents in a 2022 survey conducted by GlobeScan thought environmentally friendly home furnishings were more expensive — there is demand. Despite the current cost-of-living crisis, 55% were still willing to pay more for products or brands that work to improve society and the environment.

The growing importance of sustainability in HDHT is also reflected in a 2021 survey by Maison & Objet, in which 62% of responding HDHT retailers had noticed that their customers were increasingly interested in ethical products:

  • 92% of their customers considered natural materials either important or very important.
  • 77% valued socially responsible production methods.
  • 71% cared about recyclable/recycled materials.

Figure 8: The popularity of ethical products amongst clients of HDHT retailers

The popularity of ethical products amongst clients of HDHT retailers

Source: Maison & Objet Barometer – Issue 1

In 2023, 80% of responding HDHT professionals had noticed a growing interest on the part of their clients in recycled products, with 72% expressing increasing interest in upcycled products and 63% expressing increasing interest in pre-owned items.

The EU Green Deal will rapidly grow in force and significance, which will also provide a legal aspect to social and environmental sustainability. This will help transform sustainable corporate behaviour into a ‘must do’ issue. Well-known sustainable initiatives (e.g. BSCI, ETI, Sedex and the WFTO Guaranteed system) and certifications (e.g. FSC, GOTS and OEKO-TEX Made in Green) can help you prove your sustainability to buyers and consumers.


  • Recycling/upcycling materials from local consumption/production can be a major opportunity. Waste or offcut materials from industry are often readily available and relatively inexpensive. The market is ready for such concepts.
  • Consumers are very interested in the story of your value chain — not just to make sure that materials are really recycled, but because it is fun to know that an item used to be part of something else (e.g. a billboard, office furniture or second-hand clothing). This makes good storytelling very important.
  • Being well-prepared for the new EU legislation can give you a competitive advantage.
  • Social/environmental certification can add value and credibility to your concept.
  • Positive gender values can make you stand out in the market.
  • Use your cultural heritage to introduce new patterns and colours to buyers and consumers and make your products unique. You can mix these designs with elements of Western or global culture.


  • Western designers are also creating concepts based on recycling and upcycling. This means that design expectations are quite high, and that competition is coming from European designers as well.
  • Although taking a stand can create a following, it can also be annoying to others. Non-confrontational communication is important in order to avoid irritation in the market.
  • In the long term, the European trend of buying local (‘Made in Europe’) to reduce environmental impact may become a threat to you. Read also about the trend of changing global supply chains.
  • Sustainable products do not automatically bring a higher price. Consumers regard saving the planet as a primary responsibility of the industry. Design value is what has a positive influence on price.


  • Actively promote the environmental and social sustainability of your products. This will help you stand out from your competitors. Use your website, social media and participation in trade fairs to tell your story.
  • Take advantage of low-cost waste materials for recycling and upcycling. Negotiate well with suppliers (e.g. clothing manufacturers, advertising companies). Explain the costs and benefits of taking their garbage (free of charge). Set up an effective supply chain to collect and process the materials. Any costs saved at this stage will multiply in your price to end consumers.
  • Be bold. Counter your cultural traditions if they do not offer equal opportunities for all. Consumers will reward you.
  • Study good practices of innovators in sustainability, like La Termoplastic F.B.M. cookware (Italy), fairly traded home accessories from Kinta (the Netherlands) and Schou (Denmark) garden furniture made from materials like rice, wheat, coffee fibre and ocean plastic.
  • For more information, see our special study on sustainability in HDHT, our tips for going green  and tips for becoming more socially responsible , and our webinars on sustainability in the European HDHT market and sustainable innovations for your HDHT business. See our studies on buyer requirements and how the EU Green Deal will impact your business for more information about existing and new legislation. Our study on buyer requirements also provides information on sustainability initiatives and certification schemes.

3. Wellness

The search for health and happiness has become an important focus. Many millennials and Gen Z people live under stress from peer pressure on social media and the difficulty of finding housing in urban areas. The climate crisis is a major concern. To improve their mental and physical wellness, the following is a key question for these consumers: ‘How can I buy better to feel better about myself?’

This includes:

  • Feeling more connected to others
  • Improving one’s knowledge and skills
  • Living a healthier, more active lifestyle — closer to nature
  • Becoming more creative

Products that help achieve these personal goals will appeal to millennial and Gen Z consumers, for whom climate change is a more personal issue than it was for their parents’ generation. For them, therefore, buying better to feel better also emphasises the key question: ‘How can my purchases contribute to saving the planet and creating greater diversity?’

Sustainability has thus become a core wellness issue — a personal goal to achieve. This makes sustainable buying more firmly and more centrally rooted in the buying motives of new customers than has been the case for any previous consumer group. Simply stated, the new generations of consumers want to feel good about their buying. If products lack convincing social and/or environmental benefits, that goal will not be met and there will be no sale. The new consumers need to be deeply satisfied in terms of their personal well-being.

In a 2021 survey conducted by Young Living, 48% of all respondents stated that they were making wellness and self-care a top priority. More than half (53%) had developed new wellness habits during the pandemic, including at-home spa experiences, and 36% expressed the desire to maintain these new habits. These results are echoed in a 2022 GWI survey, in which two-thirds of responding consumers were more conscious of looking after their physical/mental health than they had been before the pandemic. For 73% of consumers, wellness is an essential element of any brand’s strategy.

The home is closely connected to mental wellness. In a survey conducted by Life at Home, 40% of respondents who reported feeling more positive towards their homes also perceived that they had a positive impact on their mental health. Many associate clean, decluttered spaces with a greater sense of calm. Sleeping and relaxing (for example, by reading) are the most important activities for achieving a sense of well-being at home.

Figure 9: URBANARA – Ethically produced bed textiles made of Tencel and linen

Source: URBANARA @ YouTube

This focus on wellness translates into several important trends in the HDHT market:

  • Wellness categories (e.g. yoga, spa, leisure, garden) will be in demand.
  • Social and environmental values are part of the primary wellness values of this new group of consumers. Sustainable offers and practices are therefore dependent on the preferences of these consumers, for whom buying good means buying green.   
  • Marketing communication concerning products and brands will highlight specific wellness benefits (e.g. healthy, natural, sustainable, cultural, creative). They will also take a stand in important social and environmental issues, albeit in a gentle — non-confrontational — tone of voice (e.g. spiritual, playful, inviting).
  • Storytelling will focus on stories about the making and makers of products, thereby giving consumers the opportunity to learn about new (sustainable) materials, techniques, processes and cultures. Additional interest can be created by courses that enable consumers to learn new skills (e.g. handloom weaving, tie-dyeing, furniture making). 
  • Design trends will attempt to be ‘bio-centric’, meaning that they will give full consideration to the planet. Examples include the use of natural dyes and finishes, as well as the creation of more timeless products for the home. 
  • Convenience through digitalisation will increase, as millennials and Gen Z are accustomed to shopping online, with 24/7 access to products and services, with online reviews as a part of their shopping journeys. They are not accustomed to waiting long periods for deliveries, and they are open to marketing, provided it is relevant, targeted and through their favourite socials.

The tagline for the Craft Resource Center (CRC) is ‘Sustainable, Ethical and Fair’. Guaranteed by the World Fair Trade Organization WFTO, this company offers a broad range of home accessories and gifts in a variety of materials, including textiles, ceramics and paperware. The company strives to ‘impact the lives of artisans in as many ways as possible’, in addition to creating self-sufficiency amongst artisan groups. Its storytelling concerns the organisation’s impact, including saving the environment, breaking social barriers, empowering women and promoting urban employment. The company proves that bottom-up artisan empowerment is very much alive and relevant.


Wellness will be the most prominent trend in HDHT in the coming decade. For this reason, all developments described above will start, continue, grow stronger and demand a more central place in the marketing of both European HDHT companies and exporters from developing countries. Millennial and Gen Z consumers are becoming dominant, and they are seeking to fulfil their personal well-being goals through their shopping. These generations will also increasingly come to dominate the population of professional buyers, basing their purchasing strategies on wellness benefits as well. The trend is thus likely to persist.

Sustainability is becoming a primary concern for a consumer group for whom benefits to people and the planet have become part of their journey towards greater personal wellness. When sustainability becomes personal, it is enduring.


This trend offers opportunities for products/product groups that:

  • Are related to the various aspects of wellness, including garden furniture, spa and yoga items (soap, hammam towels), easy chairs, luxury bed textiles and travel accessories
  • Include natural raw materials/fibres or natural colours
  • Are related to leisure, hobbies, sports, toys and games
  • Appeal to the new ‘young old’ consumer, as the relatively wealthy older generation is fitter than ever
  • Offer attractive stories of making and makers
  • Are socially and environmentally sustainable and transparent


  • For Millennial and Gen Z consumers, sustainability is personal and directly linked to their well-being. Moreover, because products without clear social and environmental benefits do not help these new consumers improve their well-being, they will be ignored.

Figure 10: CBI webinar on wellness in HDHT

 Source: YouTube


  • Follow the discussions around this key trend through a specialised source (e.g. the Global Wellness Institute) or more general sources (e.g. McKinsey). Wellness is a broad concept that is still expanding.
  • Communicate the specific wellness benefits of your products — in the classic wellness categories (spa, yoga), as well as in areas that can be applied to wellness uses (e.g. cooking and dining). For example, highlight how consumers can become more ‘connected’, skilful, knowledgeable, broadminded and green. 
  • Collaborate to offer one-stop shopping to European importers and retailers. For example, if you offer soap, you could cooperate with colleagues to offer a complete and coherent bathroom collection, including bathroom textiles and accessories.
  • Study good practices. For example, the Dutch fair-trade brand Madat offers items for both spa and yoga practice. The French company Comme Avant sees itself as part of the necessary ecological transition. It offers handmade organic and zero-waste soaps, cosmetics and sustainable clothing/linen.

4. New circular business models

Millennial and Gen Z consumers are committed to sustainability. They are also introducing new values (e.g. ‘sharing over possessing’). These topics are key drivers of new circular business models that focus on extending the lifecycle of HDHT products.

As discussed, true circularity aims to regenerate end-of-life materials into new materials and processes. In most cases, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in developing countries have little control over the process. For this reason, full circularity is generally not (or not yet) feasible for these companies. At the same time, much of the innovation in the HDHT industry is aimed at achieving full circularity. Recycling, upcycling and experimenting with alternative materials are popular ways of moving towards circularity, and you could participate in them.

Another way to extend the lifecycle of HDHT products is through such retail concepts as sharing, leasing, buy-backs and reselling. These business models minimise environmental impact by keeping products in use for as long as possible. They also provide flexibility and make products available to consumers with smaller budgets. This is a welcome option in light of the current cost-of-living crisis. For example, according to a 2023 YouGov survey, second-hand furniture is a well-established market in most countries, and strong growth is expected.

* in selected markets

Source: YouGov

The combination of sustainability and affordability makes such concepts especially popular amongst millennial and Gen Z consumers. They are environmentally conscious and value sharing over owning. They also generally have less disposable income than baby boomers. The flexibility offered by these concepts also makes it easier for them to adapt to life events, including moving house (often rental) and starting a family.

One example of a company that is rolling out such new business models is IKEA. The company aims to make its product range 100% circular by 2030. It focuses on products that can be repaired and reused again and again, before being recycled or remanufactured. In addition to offering spare parts and publishing disassembly instructions for various products, IKEA has launched buy-back (and reselling) programmes in several countries. It has also been piloting leasing/rental concepts amongst students and businesses.

Figure 12: IKEA — Why the future of furniture is circular

Source: IKEA @ YouTube

In addition to IKEA and other large retail chains that are experimenting with circular business models, companies are emerging with these concepts at their core. For example, Selency and Whoppah are online marketplaces for used home furnishings. Yourse focuses on making designer furniture available to a wider public through leasing, with the option to buy.


As the influence of millennial and Gen Z consumers grows, the popularity of circular business models is expected to rise. In a 2019 study amongst customers of Germany’s Connox, the most common reason for never having rented furniture before was simply that they had not yet thought of it. This observation supports a 2018 study conducted for the European Commission, which concludes that increasing consumer awareness of the second-hand, renting/leasing and repair markets enhances engagement in the circular economy.

As circular concepts become more and more common, consumer awareness is growing. In April 2023, HDHT professionals reported an increasing demand for circular products:

  • 80% noticed that their clients are becoming increasingly interested in recycled products.
  • 72% noticed increasing interest in upcycled products. 
  • 63% noticed increasing interest in pre-owned items.

Most HDHT retailers now offer products made using recycled materials and upcycled products, and just under half of them sell second-hand products. At the same time, 64% of all HDHT retailers think that it will be essential to offer second-hand/pre-owned products in the future, as compared to 41% in October 2021.

The growing demand for circular options is also reflected in a 2022 Deloitte survey amongst British adults, which illustrates that consumers are taking various actions in an effort to lead a more sustainable lifestyle. With regard to circularity in furniture and homeware, in the previous 12 months:

  • 43% bought second-hand/refurbished items. 
  • 39% repaired/fixed an item instead of replacing it with a brand-new equivalent item. 
  • 20% hired/rented items instead of purchasing them new. 


  • Using pre-consumer/post-consumer and post-industrial waste can reduce material costs.
  • Circular business models can open up new markets dominated by millennial and Gen Z consumers.
  • Adding sustainable values to your identity allows you to stand out and broaden your appeal.
  • Teaming up with distributors to create buy-back/re-selling and refurbishment programmes could facilitate longer-term buyer loyalty.
  • Recycled and vintage materials allow you to create a luxury positioning based on a ‘limited edition’ concept.


  • Recycled materials may run out. This could force you to phase out certain product lines, even if they are in high demand.
  • The effect of the EU’s impending Directive on corporate sustainability due diligence on the use of recycled materials of unknown origins is not yet clear.
  • Using recycled materials may create new concerns about the precise material content and the relevant legal requirements.
  • ‘Big Business’ usually has more control over the lifecycle, from supply to consumption. This may be difficult for SMEs to compete with.
  • Refurbishment, reselling and similar concepts may decrease the need for new production.


  • To innovate towards the use of sustainable materials, you could invest in developing a new material (in collaboration with others), outsource to specialised material designers/developers or buy an existing material. It is important to ask the following questions. Is developing new materials part of your core business? Do you have a strong R&D department? Do you make structural investments in R&D? Does your market demand continuous innovation in terms of materials? For more information, see our webinar on sustainable innovations for your HDHT business.
  • To facilitate a long product lifecycle, you should take circularity into account even when designing your products. For example, designs should allow for easy replacement of parts that are prone to wear and tear, and materials should be durable (and preferably recyclable). One interesting example is the new circular Peak chair by Occony, which is made of recyclable waste materials. All parts and materials can be separated, thereby allowing the chair to be reused, refurbished and recycled.
  • One resource that could provide inspiration and further information on how to design products that are suitable for new business models is provided by IKEA’s circular product design guide .

5. Changing global supply chains: Spreading risks

In marketing, distribution channels are becoming shorter. For example, wholesalers are creating business-to-consumer (B2C) e-commerce marketplaces, and manufacturers are skipping wholesale and selling straight to retail. Physical distribution is concerned with the actual, logistical supply chains of materials, semi-products and end-products. In this regard, various forces are making the supply chain more complex and, in some cases, longer. 

Global supply chains have been under pressure for quite some time, due to various disruptions, including the trade war between the United States and China, the COVID-19 pandemic, natural disasters linked to climate change, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. European importers have realised that political shocks can severely disrupt distribution. In addition, markets and governments have imposed bans and tariffs on some trade routes and goods. Moreover, consumers want to know where products come from and whether it is consistent with their moral values to buy products from certain origins.

The following are several ways in which importers have been trying to make their supply chains less vulnerable:   

  • Second sourcing – Businesses are contracting multiple suppliers for the same (or a similar) product to spread the risk of non-delivery or political trouble.
  • Vertical integration – Importers are taking more control over their supply chain in two ways: by building the capacity of their existing suppliers and by actually taking over suppliers. They also expect this to have a positive effect on their margins. This expectation is based partly on a more inclusive attitude on the part of manufacturers, service providers and importers. All members of the supply chain need to understand the reality of their partners. They must support them in making the chain stronger, so that it will remain intact during disruptions. 
  • Pre-stocking – Companies are building inventories of finished and semi-finished goods, which can be sold in case of new disruptions. In many cases, manufacturers are asked to keep such stocks (which are unpaid) until needed.   
  • Reshoring – European manufacturers are contracted to produce at least part of existing collections that were previously imported from outside of the EU, again in order to reduce risk. 
  • Longer lifecycles – When supply chains are fragile, extending the lifecycle of products could be a fruitful strategy. This can be done by recycling, using more sustainable materials, offering repairs or creating more timeless (i.e. less trend-driven) collections.

According to McKinsey, value chains that shifting away from their current top producers (as in the case of second sourcing) could represent a real opportunity for some developing economies in sectors like HDHT. Despite the current popularity of the concept of reshoring, it is often not easy in practice. Redesigning supply chains takes time, and its effects may not be visible until the longer term. In addition, reshored HDHT products often do not offer as much value for money. As reported in the June 2022 Maison & Objet Barometer26% of HDHT stakeholders were planning to localise part of their production or sourcing, and 22% were not.

Figure 13: Obstacles to reshoring for HDHT stakeholders

Obstacles to reshoring for HDHT stakeholders

Source: Maison & Objet Barometer – Issue 4

The changes in supply chains will create a more secure distribution system for supplying Western European businesses. At the same time, however, the changes will make the supply chain more fragmented, less efficient and more costly. These costs will be passed on to companies and consumers. Although the benefits should be shared as well, they may be less clear to the average consumer.

The first consequences of the new way of thinking are now becoming clear, especially with regard to redirecting imports from China. Even if Western importers are starting to second-source end products from neighbouring Eastern Asian countries, many manufacturers there are still sourcing vital components or accessories from China (e.g. silk yarns for the home-textiles industry). This is making the chain more tangled, less transparent and, possibly, more costly.


Governments will increase their direct involvement in trade through tariffs and other instruments, as well as by encouraging and facilitating sourcing from closer to home. This is for political reasons (i.e. to increase security in the delivery of goods), as well as to reduce footprint and stimulate social compliance in distribution chains.   

Consumers will become accustomed to the occasional unavailability of some items, as well as to longer lead times and higher prices. They may choose to buy more quality than quantity (i.e. choosing timeless rather than trendy), learn to like products longer and/or start sharing and exchanging items with other consumers. This is in line with the trend of new circular business models. If supply chains are fragile, extending the life of products can be a good idea. Consider recycling and repairing.

Millennial and Gen Z consumers are also likely to ask more questions about the origins of products and whether they are compatible with their outlook on life. These questions could include who benefitted in making and selling a product and what the brand stands for in terms of social and environmental values. According to the June 2022 Maison & Objet survey, 88% of responding HDHT professionals confirmed that their clients were becoming increasingly concerned about the origins of products and raw materials.


  • Importers will look for second sources — especially in East Asia — as a means of becoming less dependent on single sources.
  • This may also lead to a more favourable financial context for East Asian exporters, including government subsidies and improved terms for working capital and investment capital from banks.   
  • Businesses with verifiable sustainable practices can build a competitive advantage.


  • The increasing dependence of East Asia on China for its inputs may make this region’s bargaining position less favourable relative to its key supplier of materials and intermediate products.
  • Some production may be reshored to suppliers in Europe.
  • Chinese direct investment may replace the original ownership of East Asian manufacturers and exporters. 


  • Be a preferred partner for importers looking for second-sourcing opportunities. Key factors in this regard are production capacity, value for money, excellence in communication and social and environmental compliance, preferably verified by internationally recognised certifications.   
  • Improve your linkages to important stakeholder groups (e.g. financial institutions, material suppliers, government bodies and labour pools). This will improve your efficiency and readiness to take advantage of opportunities when they arise. 
  • Be unique: offering unique materials and techniques can prevent you from being replaced by EU-based competitors. 
  • Tell your stories. Stories about the making and makers of products can add value to your offerings, especially in a market where the new generations of consumers and professional buyers are looking for offers that will make them feel good about their purchases. 

6. Home sweet home

In times of mass migration and war, consumers react with a deep appreciation of the comfort and safety of their own homes, their family units and their circle of friends — a revival of ‘cocooning’. The ‘home sweet home’ trend involves people (across generations) enjoying each other’s company, entertaining each other, cooking and dining, or simply relaxing. This aspect of the trend relates to items that create a cosy atmosphere, as well as cookware and dinnerware for ‘slow dining’.

At the same time, however, the ‘home sweet home’ trend contains an element of disconnecting from the troublesome outside world. For older consumers with relatively high disposable income, the home forms a retreat — a place of luxury, with high-quality furniture and decoration, often in styles that refer back to bygone periods (e.g. art deco, neoclassical). Popular materials include comfortable, heavy textiles, dark wood and lots of metal. Patterns are bold, but colours are cosy and warm, including darker, rich reds and purples, sophisticated blues and browns.

Figure 14: John Lewis – Retro revival

Source: John Lewis @ YouTube


As millennials and Gen Z people start new families, cocooning will take flight and become a mainstream lifestyle trend. Although older consumer groups will last a while, they will gradually decrease. Their preferred luxurious retro styles will therefore fade or need to attract a new and younger group of affluent consumers.

During the pandemic, people spent more time cooking and socialising as a family/household. This development was particularly prominent amongst younger generations, as older consumers had probably already been spending more time on these activities before the pandemic. Many expect this change to be permanent. For example, of those who started cooking more at the beginning of the pandemic, 65% were still doing so a year on. According to GWI, 44% of all consumers plan to cook at home more, due to the current cost-of-living crisis.


  • Part of this trend represents a premium segment, which may offer good margins. 
  • The style is not trendy, but is based on supreme artisanry and a stable colour palette. With the proper marketing mix, you will be able to find a steady position in this segment.
  • Interior decorators carrying this style are found at all major HDHT trade fairs in Europe.
  • The cocooning aspect of ‘home sweet home’ has growth potential and will move along with the lifestyle and buying preferences of younger generations. Following these patterns will be essential in order to make inroads in this trend, which will become mainstream in the coming years.     
  • The cocooning aspect of ‘home sweet home’ is particularly promising for specialists in home textiles, home accessories and Christmas, as well as in the cooking and dining categories. 


  • The luxury trend is nearing the end of its lifecycle. Although the margins may be good, volumes tend to be relatively small, with low turnaround. 
  • The cocooning trend will move into the mainstream and mid-market segments, thereby attracting suppliers capable of producing good volumes at accessible prices. 


  • Study the history of interior design, as this trend is firmly based on classical and historical styles. Use home magazines focusing on the luxury segment (e.g. Architectural Digest and Coveted).
  • Follow terms like hygge (Danish) and lagom (Swedish) in marketing communication. These translations of the cocooning style of ‘home sweet home’ indicate that this has already become an international trend, with a strong presence in Scandinavian design.
  • Study good practices. For example, Versmissen offers charming products that create ambiance for wealthy consumers. RV Astley’s lighting is inspired by art deco. Eichholtz targets nostalgic baby boomers, and Anke Drechsel’s luxury velvet cushions appeal to upper-end cocooners. 
  • Visit the websites of the Maison & Objet and Ambiente trade fairs to find distributors working with this trend.

7. Shared living and tiny space

At present, about 55% of the world’s population lives in urban areas. The UN expects this percentage to grow to 68% by 2050. In the coming years, more than a million people are expected to arrive in urban areas every week. The world will be crowded with more than 40 megacities — especially in Asia — with 50 million or more inhabitants. Europe will mainly be home to small to medium-sized cities, which are currently growing at twice the rate of megacities. This rapid urbanisation will exert pressure on urban space and push up housing prices.

As a result, consumers are adjusting to living in and decorating tiny urban properties. They are also increasingly adopting new forms of shared living, often in clusters of multiple generations. Homes are being adapted or designed with shared and private spaces, each decorated differently. This creates new directions in the development and consumption of HDHT products.

Furniture and accessories for tiny and shared living spaces need to be more flexible. Product values related to convenience and multipurpose are more important. Such values are found primarily in the middle and lower ends of the market. In their private spaces, consumers consider it especially important to display their personal styles. This adds importance to values related to differentiation, eclecticism, personal taste and style. These values are mainly associated with the mid-high to premium ends of the market.

Seeking to improve their well-being, consumers in small urban spaces are creating a sense of being close to nature through fresh flowers and plants. Tiny balcony gardens are particularly trendy, offering clever seating and gardening solutions for urban consumers with just a small balcony.

Urban consumers are also increasingly working from home. This further adds to the required multifunctionality of their living spaces. Given that many people wish to continue remote working after the pandemic, the need for flexibility could be a longer-lasting trend. For example, in the Netherlands, 43% of the working population had invested in HDHT products for their home offices by June 2021. Up to 44% of remote workers intended to make further upgrades.

Figure 15: OAKO Denmark – adjustable desk

Source: OAKO Denmark @ YouTube


The world of the future will be an urban place in terms of population and economic power. Rich in networks and opportunities, cities are hyper-productive, hyper-consumptive magnets — attracting talent and producing innovation. Cities will continue to play host to an increasing concentration of global and national wealth, talent and creativity. As urbanisation grows and hybrid working becomes the norm, urban consumers will be looking for suitable solutions.

Obra Cebuana is a Philippine manufacturer of furniture and home accessories. Their collection of expressive stools combines the styles and amazing artisanry of Visayan culture with the abundant natural resources of the country. The Porcupine Stool uses a rattan folding technique that resembles origami. The Aloha Stool is an unusual combination of fibre glass with laminated rattan slats. The Poof Stool is of rattan strips with an expressive colourful wash. Obra proves that tiny living does not mean that furniture has to be boring.


This trend offers opportunities for products/product groups that:

  • Can be used around the house (e.g. occasional furniture)
  • Are lightweight, collapsible, flat-packed and easily stored
  • Are multipurpose (e.g. cookware that also presents well on the table)
  • Consist of items with components that can be rearranged according to use or taste, or several style options to cater to individual preferences

Because shared living creates demand for both volume (shared spaces) and value (private spaces), there are opportunities across the market, from low-end to high-end segments. With the forecasted growth of megacities, domestic city marketing may offer an alternative to overseas markets.


Products with values related to convenience and functionality are often positioned in price-sensitive segments. This means that you can expect price pressure and high-volume requirements.


  • Take into account the need to offer clever solutions for tiny living quarters and gardens when designing for urban consumers. Offer products that allow folding, nesting, flat-packing, stacking and similar features. Take multifunctionality and modularity into account. 
  • In producing concepts for shared living there are two options: 1) Control your costs and improve productivity to compete in the shared-decoration segment; 2) develop high-level design for private quarters. Focus on only one of these options, as each requires a quite different marketing mix.
  • For more information on market segmentation, see our study on market channels and segments in HDHT.
  • Study good practices from players like IKEA and Habitat. They offer collections based on functional design for large segments of the lower-middle and middle markets. For the higher-end markets, look at distributors with identity-driven assortments. Examples include Pols Potten (home decoration), Iittala (tableware) and Le Jacquard Français (home textiles).
  • Use sources like home magazines, industry portals, trade fairs and our HDHT market intelligence to stay informed about urbanisation and urban consumers. Financial consulting firms and institutions often publish megatrend analyses, including how they influence work and living. These are good sources of information on market projections. Examples include the European Commission’s 2030: The mega-trends and Peter Fisk’s Megatrends for 2020–2030.

8. Playfulness

Play is an essential part of being human. People play in order to have fun and fulfil their need for optimism, escape and invention. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, people have expressed optimism that the pandemic will lead to positive change — a world that is more caring (with greater understanding between people) and more creative.

In HDHT, concepts that invite consumers to play are everywhere. Play stimulates social connection, thereby reducing loneliness and isolation. It is a powerful form of escapism, distracting consumers from worries about politics, the environment, trade wars, cybercrime and other contemporary concerns. Millions of consumers are therefore embracing new opportunities and concepts to imagine, escape, explore, create and connect.

At the product level, playfulness can find expression in a number of ways. For example:

  • Items can be bold in colour, shape or pattern (e.g. Jonathan Adler’s style).
  • Functional items are made figurative, as if they were intended to be played with (e.g. Alessi kitchenware).
  • Modular items allow consumers to ‘construct their own products’ (e.g. HAY’s Kaleido trays).
  • Items are using cultural styles in surprising ways (e.g. Kitsch Kitchen’s style).
  • Items are designed to appear badly made or damaged (e.g. the Clay chair by MAARTEN BAAS).
  • Items use ‘dark’ or surreal humour (e.g. those by Ibride).

Figure 16: MOBJE – Rearrangeable fabric vases made with traditional hat-making techniques

Source: MOBJE @ YouTube

The popularity of garden and outdoor spaces is accompanied by an increased interest in outdoor toys and games, with a strong focus on construction toys (like Kapla) for both indoor and outdoor use.


The Millennial and Gen Z cohorts are young, playful and creative, and they will push this trend further. The combination of play as an essential human need and the current crises in our world makes this a trend that is here to stay. As many people continue to worry about the many crises we are currently witnessing, they need distraction now, perhaps more than ever.


  • This trend represents an expressive style (bold, colourful, ‘loud’) in all segments, from low to premium, and it has a deep and permanent link to the taste palettes of European consumers. 
  • This trend also encourages consumers to practise playful interaction and co-creation through flexible and customisable concepts. Given its deep connection to wellness, creativity is highly relevant to a wide customer base in HDHT.



  • If you offer games and toys, consider expanding into playthings for outdoor areas (e.g. garden, beach, park). 
  • Give your own cultural patterns a twist to create the desired effect of playfulness. Do this respectfully. 
  • Use modularity to give consumers the opportunity to ‘create’ from the components you offer. Modularity is possible in any product group in HDHT, from candle holders and tableware to furniture and lighting. 
  • Imagine you are a child yourself when designing for this trend.
  • Develop collections that are both playful and sustainable. Although sustainability tends to be quite serious in style (e.g. natural, spiritual), it does not have to be.
  • Study good practices of brands with a playful style, like those listed in the examples.

9. Digitalisation in marketing and services

Digital technology becoming more important in every aspect of our lives, particularly in terms of consumerism. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated digitalisation. After the initial outbreak, digital adoption amongst both consumers and businesses made five years’ worth of progress in just eight weeks. In 2022, 15% of European consumers ordered furniture, home accessories and garden products online (in the 3 months preceding the survey). This varied from up to 10% in mainly Eastern European countries to nearly 30% in countries like Denmark and the Netherlands.

In general, consumers prefer to buy from brands with both an online and a physical presence. Such hybrid or multi-channel retailers allow them to gather information and inspiration online, as well as in the physical store. Online is considered ‘better’ than offline across many criteria, including variety, reviews, price, comparison of brands and products and — perhaps surprisingly — fun. Online is inferior in only two aspects: the ability to try the right product, and advice from staff. This is why shoppers still want to go to a physical shop as well: to try that chair or feel the texture of that decorative cushion.


Selling directly to European consumers through your own website can be complicated and costly. You are responsible for factors like aftersales obligations and consumer payment systems. For most exporters from developing countries, this is not feasible. In addition, the new General Product Safety Regulation requires you to have an ‘economic operator’ in the EU who is responsible for product safety. Supplying to a European wholesaler or retailer with a strong online presence is more feasible, as the importer will then take responsibility for stock and financial risks, along with most other aspects of marketing.

Online channels can also help consumers (and professional buyers) find out where products come from and how they are made. In addition, the HDHT sector has digital solutions specifically adapted to consumers and professional buyers looking for sustainable options. For example, the consumer platform Avocadostore brings together sustainable fashion and home items. Linking Maker & Market is a sourcing platform with SMEs from developing countries that are or have participated in CBI programmes. The Ambiente Ethical Style Guide lists sustainable trade-fair participants.

Important European HDHT trade fairs have now become hybrid, combining a permanent online presence with online business-to-business (B2B) marketplaces. Examples include Maison & Objet’s MOM platform and Messe Frankfurt’s affiliated nmedia.hub (formerly Nextrade), which facilitates direct B2B transactions. Such platforms allow convenient B2B sourcing and one-stop shopping. Other relevant marketplaces include Faire for small independent retailers and brands, and Fairling — particularly for sustainable and eco-friendly retailers and independent brands.

Digital innovations

Digital innovation is moving rapidly, including in other trade-related services, communication and design. In e-commerce, this ranges from smart assistants (chatbots, like IKEA’s Billie) and ‘voice commerce’ (replacing endless typing on a phone) to cashless payment, cryptocurrency options, automated buying (e.g. on subscription), social selling (through social media) and buying on and through the Metaverse.

Digital design aids (e.g. digital printing and FabLabs) are increasingly being used in HDHT. In fashion, digital sample-development technology is already being used to replace costly and lengthy physical sample processes. This will undoubtedly also become available in HDHT in the near future.

In combination with developments in blockchain technology, mobile phone applications, digital communication tools and digital payment systems, digital design aids will push the use of digital technology forward — including in the HDHT sector.


Millennial and Gen Z consumers are already online-focused and digitally savvy, and consumers in general are increasingly comfortable with digital technology: 68% were more comfortable with technology in 2023 than they were the year before, ranging from 36% of people older than 65 years to 77% of those between the ages of 25 and 34 years. More than half (58%) of all shopping worldwide is now online, and this is predicted to grow to 64% in the coming decade. Growth is driven by working from home, given that 65% of consumers reporting shopping online more as a result.

Digitalisation and digital technology will only become more relevant for exporters from developing countries. This will be driven by many aspects of business, including marketing, communication, sustainability and production. In addition, the home is becoming ‘smart’. IKEA  is a frontrunner in this regard. Digital solutions range from Bluetooth-driven apps that remind users to water their plants to built-in phone chargers in bedside lighting and smart window blinds that can be programmed to filter the light in a room. These developments are expected to grow, playing into the consumer’s need for convenience.


  • Online marketplaces and trade fairs can be a cost-effective way to achieve global distribution.
  • The online shopping trend is global. Exporters gaining experience (either direct or indirect) with e-commerce in export markets can exploit this in their domestic markets and create effective online concepts, and vice versa.
  • Artificial intelligence (AI) can be a useful tool for creating marketing campaigns, especially when language barriers exist. Chatbots (e.g. IKEA’s Billie) can be applied to facilitate information gathering on websites, especially when time differences play a role in international marketing.


  • Digitalisation generally speeds up communication and service delivery, as well as expectations concerning response time. Consumers (and therefore distributors) are likely to have less patience. Your system and team should be prepared for this.
  • In online shopping, price is a leading motive for buying. Price competition is expected to grow.
  • Digitalisation is the subject of considerable discussion with regard to mental health, especially amongst younger generations. This may generate a countertrend in which consumers return to offline shopping, around the corner, for home-based brands, thereby decreasing their environmental footprint.
  • Digital communication within a global context demands high levels of written and spoken English, as well as promotional materials that are accurate, to-the-point and inspiring. Although AI may be able to help with basic communication, it cannot replace your own, authentic tone of voice and story.


  • Embrace digitalisation wherever you can, starting with marketing through online marketplaces and trade fairs. This can give you global access more effectively than ever before.
  • Increase your visibility online by having an attractive website and using social media. For more information on this and on digital B2B platforms, see our tips for finding buyers.
  • Ensure that relevant staff members are computer-literate and well-versed in the use of social media and websites. Invest in training in these areas, as well as in copywriting and photography skills.
  • See our special study on alternative distribution channels for more information on international B2C e-commerce.
  • For more information on digitalisation in HDHT in general, see our tips for going digital.

10. Increasing prices

Price increases are a hot topic in today’s market. The prices of HDHT products are heavily dependent on the cost and availability of raw materials, energy and transport. The COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine have had a negative impact on all of these factors. Occasional cost increases are not usually passed directly on to the consumer. Instead, they exert pressure on the margins of exporters (like you), importers and retailers.

Current disruptions have resulted in longer-term cost increases. In the period January–February 2022, HDHT professionals estimated their costs to be 19% higher. Since then, costs have increased even more. By October 2022, 42% reported that their businesses had been strongly impacted by the energy crisis. This continuing pressure on their margins has forced many HDHT businesses to raise prices, also leading to higher consumer prices. For example, consumer prices for furniture and home decoration in the Netherlands increased by 13% between June 2021 and 2022.

At the same time, the current cost-of-living crisis has made consumers hesitant to spend money. In response to the situation in Ukraine and the subsequent energy crisis, European consumer confidence fell sharply in March 2022. This reflected a large drop in the expectations of households concerning the general economic situation in their country, as well as about their own future financial situation. Consumer intentions to make major purchases also fell. In a consumer survey conducted in Europe in Autumn 2022, about half of all respondents reported a decrease in spending on home and furniture.

The combination of high prices and low consumer confidence may lead to a crowded mid-end market. Increasing prices can push low-end products towards the mid-end. Consumers may also be pushed in this direction, due to low confidence. Because they are not willing to make major purchases, they are likely to prefer affordable alternatives to high-end options when they do spend money on HDHT items. As a result, competition in the mid-end market may increase. The premium/luxury market will remain relatively unaffected, as more affluent consumers will continue to spend.


During the pandemic, consumers spent money on re-decorating their homes. At present, however, consumption is apparently focusing more on experiences (e.g. travel). In response, HDHT retailers are cautious about investing in new stock. They are tending to order conservatively, purchasing similar items from familiar wholesalers in the effort to avoid risk. In addition, many retailers are now repaying the government support they received during the pandemic, and they are not always managing. In the short term, we expect the retail landscape to consolidate in favour of retail chains and towards the lower price segments.

Consumer confidence has been gradually recovering towards its same period in 2022. Consumer spending forecasts for 2023/2024 are modestly positive. The results of the April 2023 Maison & Objet Barometer seems to reflect this, with most HDHT professionals reporting that sales had remained the same (45%) or increased (29%) in the preceding four months, as compared to the same period in 2022. Their sales forecasts for the next four months had strongly improved since October 2022: 50% were neutral (+2 pts), and 38% were positive (+20 pts). Only 13% were negative (-21 pts). These developments are promising.


  • Exporters who are lean, cost-effective and able to supply large volumes for the middle and lower ends of the market should focus on larger importers who have a longer-term presence in the market and who cater to large networks of retailers. They have the continued buying power and trust relative to retailers to help them stay in business.
  • Smaller exporters can sell directly to small and individual retailers, although this also reduces margins. In addition, it requires keeping stock in Europe and using fulfilment services. 
  • Private and public festivities call for gifts, and consumers will always celebrate. Within the domain of HDHT, gifting is stable and relatively unaffected by economic hardship. 
  • Connecting or reconnecting with the domestic market may make sense for many manufacturers in developing countries, as tourism is recovering and expats are usually a relatively affluent customer group.


  • There is a trend amongst European importers to buy closer to home, for reasons of both cost and efficiency. This makes Eastern European countries, many of which have sophisticated production systems and a favourable business climate, a particularly strong competitor — especially in the middle and lower-end markets. After the pandemic and political upsets involving China and Russia, European countries are also promoting manufacturers in their own countries or regions as an alternative to imports from outside Europe. 
  • Consumers are spending more of their disposable income on experiences (especially holidays and travel) rather than on consumer goods. This trend may affect sales in the HDHT sector. 


  • Be aware that consumers expect added value for their money in the mid-end segment. You must meet consumer standards in terms of design, trendiness, sustainability and other aspects. Take this into account if you have changed your target segment to compensate for increasing costs.
  • Connect with your colleagues to start joint export-marketing approaches, which could allow you to offer both greater volume and broader, more lifestyle-focused collections for HDHT. Joint investments in physical and online marketplaces, design innovation and promotion could help you create one-stop-shopping concepts for larger importers, bring stock into Europe and generally the reduce cost of doing so.
  • Consider combining shipments with other exporters in your area to lower your transport costs.
  • Be authentic by using special materials, ensuring high-level craftmanship and adhering to sustainable values and practices. This creates differentiation in a market that is likely to be price-sensitive, whilst continuing to value quality, beauty, stories about making and makers, and increasingly social and environmentally friendly practices.
  • For more information about the mid-end market and how to appeal to these consumers, see our study on market channels and segments in HDHT.

Globally Cool B.V. in collaboration with GO! GoodOpportunity and Remco Kemper carried out this study on behalf of CBI.

Please review our market information disclaimer.

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Craft needs a strong design component to stay relevant. The new Gen Z consumer values handmade only when it combines traditional techniques and history with a thoroughly modern design. 

David Shah, Publisher & Editor @ View Publications