Survey Spotlights Millennial Buyers

by Ashley Lapin Olian

WILMINGTON, NC — Millennial homebuyers appreciate the importance of the kitchen in their lives and are even more likely than older generations to “hang out” in that living space, trying new recipes, listening to music, chatting with family or friends, and conducting personal and career-related business.

That’s the key conclusion of a recent survey conducted by the Research Institute for Cooking & Kitchen Intelligence (RICKI) into the kitchen preferences of millennial homeowners – a generation, currently aged 18 to 35, that’s likely to have a profound impact on the $340-billion residential remodeling market, including the kitchen and bath niche.

Millennials, also known as “Gen Y,” currently represent the largest generation in U.S. history, consisting of one in three adults and heading about nine million households.

“Millennials comprise the largest segment of homebuyers today, representing 44% of all buyers,” said the Wilmington, NC-based RICKI, exclusive research marketing partner of Kitchen & Bath Design News. “For most of those buyers (78%), it’s their first home, and they’re spending money on improving their homes, including the kitchen.”

According to RICKI, nearly half the surveyed millennial homebuyers undertook a kitchen remodeling project within the first two years of purchasing their home. And although they’re waiting longer than previous generations to purchase a home, most millennials say they’re more likely than older adults to be planning to buy a home or undertaking a kitchen remodel in the coming year, RICKI added.

While location is the top reason for buying, millennial homebuyers place a greater value than their older counterparts on “investment potential and child-friendly spaces,” RICKI found. For instance, half the surveyed millennial buyers bought a house with an open floor plan, a feature that heavily influenced their buying decision, RICKI pointed out. The kitchen’s look and layout were “very important” to a majority of millennials, especially for those with children or in higher-income brackets, the research organization found.

While millennial homebuyers generally seek advice from friends and family when it comes to buying a home, they are not turning to those traditional sources for ideas on kitchen projects, RICKI said. Instead, Gen Y homebuyers conduct research “the old-fashioned way, watching shows and thumbing through magazines for ideas more than any other sources, although their viewing may be on a device other than a TV, and the magazines are often digital,” RICKI noted, adding that half the surveyed millennials visited kitchen-related websites to get information, read product reviews and watch videos.

“Paying attention to nuanced behaviors of this group and creating unique experiences online and in-store can help companies stand out among this tough-to-please crowd,” RICKI observed.

When asked for one thing they feel kitchen product manufacturers don’t seem to understand about homeowners their age – perhaps not surprisingly, given their life stage – millennials talk budget, RICKI commented.

“But if you knock off the sentiments around money, you’ve still got millennials wanting stylish, quality products focused on functionality,” the researchers concluded. ▪

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