Editor’s note: Jacqueline Tan is a research analyst from the home and technology team at Euromonitor International. This is an edited version of a post that originally appeared under the title, “The future of home is smart and sustainable.” 

The home and garden industry is a dynamic category. Given how digital connectivity underpins the existence of connected consumers and has altered all aspects of life, no industry is immune to the impact of digitalization. At the same time, the world is undergoing a radical shift toward sustainability, and brands need to adapt and respond to changing consumer values.

Connectivity creates opportunities in the kitchen

The Internet has been one of the most transformative innovations in the modern era, driving fundamental shifts in the way consumers live, work, shop and play. One area of the smart home that has great potential for growth is the smart kitchen, due to the benefits that integrated, connected kitchens can offer to consumers.

The latest product innovations are simplifying meal preparation, making it faster and easier for consumers to prepare and consume healthy meals. Products like the Gourmia Cool Cooker and Mellow smart sous vide machine can keep ingredients chilled until users start the cooking process remotely via their smartphones. The Tovala smart oven and meal subscription service let users skip the cooking process entirely.

The popularity of cooking television shows and celebrity chefs has fueled interest in home cooking among consumers. Internet-connected pans and sous vide machines tap into the desire to create culinary masterpieces at home. Smart pans, from brands such as Hestan Cue and Ztove, have built-in temperature sensors that link up with smart induction hobs via Bluetooth, while Internet-connected sous vide machines, such as ANOVA and Joule, gain popularity as the sous vide method helps users to avoid overcooking proteins.

Recipe apps like Kitchen Stories, Innit and Yummly can guide consumers through the cooking process, teaching the basics to consumers but also helping experienced cooks experiment and learn. Manufacturers of kitchen appliances, particularly Bosch, Electrolux, Whirlpool and General Electric, are partnering with or acquiring recipe apps because recipe guidance is seen as a key component of connected kitchens.

Ethical living trends support sustainability investment 

Environmental awareness, particularly around plastic waste and the sustainable use of resources, is set to gain traction in the coming years, leading consumers to reconsider the environmental impact of products in their homes. Concerns about plastic pollution lie behind the rising preference for glass food storage containers and eco-friendly storage solutions, such as reusable silicone pouches and reusable wraps.

Thanks to growing access to information about brands and manufacturing practices, sustainable sourcing is becoming a key priority for the furniture industry. Given the difficulty and the length of time it takes to implement sustainability initiatives into the supply chain, companies should prioritize sustainability because responsible business practices are quickly becoming a baseline expectation for consumers.

Manufacturers are acknowledging that the traditional linear economy approach, where raw materials go from factory to user to landfill, is no longer a sustainable model. The circular economy uses the reduce, reuse and recycle approach to minimize waste and maximize the use of our limited resources. This reduces the environmental impact of consumption, delivers cost savings for manufacturers and meets consumer demand for more environmentally friendly products and services.

Nonetheless, adopting circular economy principles can be challenging as it requires a fundamental redesign of product development, manufacturing processes and supply chains.