Furniture News #412

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SUPPLIERS Nicolle Hockin (MD, Devonshire Living) The approach to cabinet furniture buying appears to change with each generation, and not always in a linear way. To generalise at the most basic level, it seems to me that the Boomer generation (currently 55-75-ish) still wants neutral furniture that lasts a lifetime. Gen X (40-55-ish) is a little more adventurous in design, but still wants quality. Millennials (25-40-ish) are more fashion-based, and grew up with the internet and IKEA. They are used to having a lot more choices, and cheaper materials that they could switch out every few years depending on the trends. Gen Z are only just breaching the period where they are starting to move out and buy their own furniture. They typically have less surplus cash, and less permanent housing prospects, as well as a stronger global focus on sustainability. They are more likely to thrift, Facebook Marketplace, and upcycle pre-loved furniture. As an SME, you can’t be all things to all people and do it successfully. Our core customer base is still predictably the older market, because quality, long-lasting furniture is what we know and what we’ve always done. Therefore, in order to adapt to the younger consumers, we’ll need to take a new approach. Rather than try to appeal to the Millennials (of which I am one) and cheapen our products or look for more outlandish designs, it may be that we need to skip that market altogether and focus our longevity instead on the newer generation of more eco-conscious consumers. Rather than focus on new products exclusively, I would imagine that reclaimed materials and closed-loop recycling is the way to reach the consumers of the future – reusing old product to make something new.

Paul Little (sales and commercial director, Airsprung Group) A disconnect between seller and buyer may be true of some parts of the industry. However, we strategically transitioned from a traditional bricks-and-mortar strategy to an omnichannel approach very early in the digital revolution. This shift allowed us to connect with younger customers on various platforms, where they actively engage and make purchase decisions. For many years, we were constantly told that people wouldn’t buy mattresses online, even

though we could see the evidence for ourselves. We have been fortunate to collaborate with among the best and most experienced players in the digital field. Their expertise and analysis of customer behaviour provides invaluable feedback. By leveraging data analytics and customer insights, we gain a deep understanding of what resonates with our target audience, and can tailor our offerings accordingly. In the ever-evolving landscape of the bed industry, differentiation has become the key challenge. To stay ahead, we recognise the growing need for more and richer content. By combining an omnichannel approach with expert digital partnerships, we have successfully aligned our strategy with the desires of younger customer cohorts, securing a competitive edge in the dynamic bed market.

Carole Nolan (category manager, outdoor furniture, Gallery Direct) I’m lucky that I have five children who are young adults, and the Gallery team includes a range of ages, including many young adults, so I get a lot of feedback and input from the younger generation, and others, which I feel is really important, as we want to offer products to suit all tastes. It is interesting to note that not all young adults choose contemporary-style products, which is what many people would maybe expect. They are a discerning audience, who have a wide range of tastes to suit their own personal style, homes and lifestyles.

Gavin Boden (sales director, Rhenus Home Delivery UK) It seems that every generation is very different today, from Gen Z to Boomers, Gen X to Millennials, they are all looking for something different with regards a ‘buying experience’, because, let’s face it, that’s what we’re talking about. We could split it down further and include location, demographic, sex and profession, not just by generation. In the old days, everyone used to take the time and have a day out to visit a few shops in the same town/area and have a look-see what was out there. Depending on where they would go, they’d get a welcome smile and some kind of sales patter, but they also might get a place where they could have a complimentary beverage, maybe somewhere to

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