Making a beautiful home is a priority for the majority of consumers because it is central to a person's identity. As one survey respondent explained: "I am house proud. The house is the single biggest investment you will make in your lifetime and you want it to reflect the care and love you put into it." Another says: "You want the look of your home to reflect you."

The importance of the home is magnified for women who do not work outside the home. "As a stay-at-home mom, you don't have a job that you get reassurance from, that you are worth something—that boost you get from your work. You get that feeling from your house and how it looks. You end up doing the same job over and over again. It gets tedious, but if your house doesn't look good, you aren't doing your job as a woman and mother." Another woman explains: "The house and how it looks is your responsibility. It all gets down to a reflection on yourself." For about 80 percent of those surveyed, beautifying the home is an important motivator for buying things they don't need. For these consumers, the home—how it looks and how it is decorated—is a reflection of the individual's identity, values, and self.

Cleanliness in the home is another aspect of beautifying the home. A clean home is a beautiful home. As one respondent explained: "Bathrooms are made for the SOUL. That is where I go to relax. A clean bathroom is also critical. It has to be clean and stay clean." Utilitarian products often offer cleanliness as an essential benefit. Because cleanliness is next to Godliness, the consumer connection to cleanliness is very deep, almost spiritual.

Demographic Distinctions

While men value a beautiful home, women are more highly motivated to purchase products for home beautification. The more youthful consumers, those aged 25 to 44, are the most intensely interested in home beautification. Households making $35,000 or more annually consider beautifying the home a higher priority in purchasing decisions than do those living in lower-income households where it is viewed as of little or no importance in their purchase decisions. Single-person households are less motivated by beautifying their home than are consumers living in two-or-more-person households and those with children.


Being better educated, that is, learning something new, gaining new insights, understanding, and skills, is an important motivator in discretionary purchases for over 80 percent of those surveyed. It is worth noting that the more education Americans get, the more education they crave. Today's American consumer is more educated than ever before. As recently as 1980, only 16.2 percent of the adult population aged 25 and older had completed four years or more of college. By 1999, that percentage had risen to 25.2 percent. Achieving more education will continue to be a primary driver for important discretionary product segments, especially books, magazines, newsletters, computers and related hardware, software, art, and even entertainment products.

Researching a new purchase—getting educated about the product category, the available brands, and price points—comprises a part of the anticipation cycle that gives so much pleasure to consumers. One of our respondents explained the time-consuming process that her family went through to select the right model and to get all the right features on a new SUV. "We just bought a new Ford Expedition. We used the Internet to learn about the different models, then went around to all the dealers, looking at the different models, to see which was right for us. Then, when we settled on the Expedition, we needed to do more research about the model and what features we wanted. For me, the search adds to the anticipation."

Demographic Distinctions

Women respond more strongly to education as a motivator for discretionary purchases than do men. Younger-to-middle-aged consumers, aged 25 to 54, rate education as more important than both those older than age 55, and the extremely young, aged 18 to 24. Consumers older than age 55, in particular, rate education as of little or no importance in their buying decisions. Unity Marketing predicts that the baby boomers who are just now entering their mid-50s will behave differently than the current generation of mature Americans (born prior to 1946) in terms of their desire for education. Boomers, the most educated generation in history, should continue to be ravenous consumers of products that incorporate an educational aspect. We also predict they will return to the classroom upon retirement or as their single-minded focus on career shifts. Black consumers give higher importance to education, suggesting that this market segment views education as a key to improved quality of life. In purchasing discretionary products, families with children place the highest emphasis on education.