The Hygge Trend’s Impact on American Retail

How can retailers maximize on the new trend of staying in and getting cozy?


Throughout history, people have turned to different forms of escapism to recharge and refuel from their increasingly high-stress lifestyles. After the 2008 recession, younger generations spent more time at home. Watching movies, playing video games and crafting home-cooked meals, they did everything they could to keep things affordable and convenient in the comforts of their cocoons. Turns out, they liked it—and decided to stay.

Today, not much has changed. People still want to create a sanctuary amid their hectic lives. The only difference this time around is that they have more toys to play with, and we now have a name for it: hygge.

So what is hygge, and what are U.S. consumers buying to achieve it? Hygge (pronounced "hue-guh") is a Danish-born term that refers to “the constant pursuit of homespun pleasures,” involving things like candlelight, fires and fuzzy knitted socks. The essence of hygge is a feeling of comfort, well-being, safety and togetherness. It’s no wonder the Danes are the happiest people on earth.

Coming out of the well-being movement, U.S. consumers are increasingly mindful of both their physical and emotional health and have fully caught this hygge bug. The proof is in the home industry’s 2016 growth. “Today’s consumers are spending more time in the home and are willing to spend more for products that will help enhance their home lifestyle,” said Joe Derochowski, executive director and home industry analyst at NPD. “Another key element of hygge is the casual style of home environments people are aspiring to create. U.S. consumers are seeking out a more relaxed and warm ambiance instead of formal surroundings,” Joe added.

npd hygge trend


Major home appliances experienced the most year-over-year growth of all home segments (think fridges and washing machines), followed by non-electric housewares (like portable beverageware and cookware), home environment appliances (think robo vacuums), personal care appliances (like electric tooth brushes and hairstyling tools), and small kitchen electronics (like fryers and coffeemakers). It’s worth noting that only four of our tracked industries grew in Holiday 2016 compared to Holiday 2015; two of these industries were small appliances and housewares. Bottom line—Americans want to create meaningful experiences in their homes, and products that help them keep clean, healthy, creative, and comfortable at home will come out on top.

Do a quick Google search of “hygge”, and inevitably candles pop up as crucial elements to creating cozy atmospheres, both for the aroma and light they emit. Scentiments, NPD’s suite of consumer insights and tools for the U.S. fragrance industry, allows them to take a deep dive on this trend. The NPD Scentiments online survey found almost half of respondents age 18 or older use scented home products to create an inviting atmosphere in their homes. Beauty industry analyst Kissura Craft said 77 percent of U.S. adults use some sort of scented home product, be it a candle, diffuser, linen spray, or air freshener. Home scents are the fastest-growing segment in fragrances, outpacing the other segments anywhere from 18 to 21 points in the 12 months ending February 2017. What types of candles do U.S. consumers fancy when they want to get hygge? Nest’s Holiday Candle, Jo Malone’s Lime Basil Mandarin Candle, and Diptyque’s 6.5 oz Baies Candle were the top three best-selling candles in the U.S. during this time period.

Call it a form of escapism. Call it a slow movement. As a nation we’re indulging in some much-deserved “me time,” seeking out the comforts and safeties of our own domiciles. At a time when Americans savor experiences and human connection, “home” has become the intersection of these needs. Home offers a safe haven to refuel in times of turmoil. U.S. consumers are spending on things that allow them to curate comfortable surroundings. As a brand or retailer, are you offering them products that fulfill their highest hygge desires?

GDA Staff | News & Commentary

Lenise Willis, editor in chief; Anne-Marie Earl, managing editor; Cammie Collier, art director; and Brianna Glenn, assistant editor, love reviewing new products for Gifts and Decorative Accessories . The team stays on top of the latest trends in bath and body, candles, gourmet items, stationery, home décor, fashion and more, and love chatting about their latest finds. Check in each week for more of their latest picks on GiftRap, and see more of the team on their new bi-weekly video series, Thoughts That Count.

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