Home furnishing retailers who hope to migrate to the new Retail Renaissance must know their value proposition and their market. It’s well known that the purchasing cycle for furniture, appliances and bedding is often triggered by life-changing events. Getting married, buying a new home or downsizing to smaller accommodations are historical drivers for the industry.
But a new trend is emerging. Millennials, now the largest consumer demographic is becoming established, forming households and searching for products that match their lifestyle. According to Forbes, more than half of all mortgages last year in the U.S. were provided to first-time home buyers in this age bracket. And this trend will only accelerate as Millennials drive the housing market and the home furnishings industry for the next decade.
While these new buyers are price-conscious they’re also prepared to spend. They want furnishings that are fashion forward, durable and technology-enabled. Unlike other generations, Millennials are digitally dependant, constantly mobile and research savvy.
You can be assured most Millennials are not looking to buy heirloom furnishings.
Millennials are experienced-focused and are always ready to share their new discoveries with their engaged online followers. They value product and retailer reviews above all else when deciding what to purchase and where.
So, how do you tap into this massive (and growing) market? Be there. Millennials are online and expect their buying options to be there as well. An e-commerce enabled website is a table-stakes for retail success in home furnishings. It’s also critical to leverage social media, digital marketing and be prepared to offer an exceptional, seamless in-store and online customer-focused experiences. If you can’t supply what your market wants, you can bet your competitor is only a click away.
This is also the perfect opportunity to clearly define your value proposition. You can try to be all things to all people – but it’s a strategy that seldom works. If you can’t separate yourself from the middle-of-the-road competition you will struggle to find your place in this new era.
You can position your business as a price-based retailer offering value pricing – which appeals to cost-conscious buyers on a budget. Or, you can offer curated products, such as modular units with integrated technology (think cable management, charging stations and the smart home) designed with a fashion look that resonates with the eco-conscious, green living Millennial.
Whatever your choice, be prepared for continuous change as Millennials rapidly adapt to new, Smarter Living trends that make their life more efficient, economical, integrated and sustainable while driving the Retail Renaissance.
By Brad Geddes
Brad Geddes, CEO & President of ZucoraHome regularly shares insights about the Canadian home furnishing market, changing consumer behaviours, and the process he’s leading to transform ZucoraHome into a smarter living business that leverages IoT (Internet of Things) technologies with professional home services.