‘Consumer Regret’ Focus of KBDN Breakfast

LAS VEGAS — Kitchen and bath product manufacturers, working in conjunction with their design and retail partners, can take a series of concrete steps to minimize the homeowner regret and under-spending that often results from major remodeling projects.

That was the message conveyed to approximately 100 manufacturing executives who gathered in Las Vegas for Kitchen & Bath Design News’ fifth annual “Insights” breakfast. The event – entitled “The Regret Factor: Overcoming Under-spending in Kitchen and Bath Remodeling” – was staged during February’s Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS) under the co-sponsorship of KBDN and its exclusive research partners, the Research Institute for Cooking & Kitchen Intelligence (RICKI) and Wray Ward, a Charlotte, NC-based marketing communications firm serving leading brands in the residential design and construction market.

The insights that were presented were culled from a recent multi-part study conducted by RICKI among kitchen/bath design professionals, as well as homeowners who undertook major home-remodeling projects. The study found that some 44% of surveyed homeowners who remodeled their kitchen or bath in the past year would have spent more money if they had to do the project over.

According to RICKI’s findings, regret most often occurs because remodeling spending was unrealistically low; homeowners experienced “choice overload” (in other words, having too many options from which to choose); homeowners settled for less-expensive products they later wish they’d upgraded, and homeowners were unaware of product costs in advance.

“Many homeowners simply underestimate the cost of home remodeling projects,” observed Brenda Bryan, executive director of the Houston, TX-based RICKI. “Kitchen remodels, more than any other single renovation project, reflect the greatest variance from what was anticipated,” she added.

Bryan reported that the top product kitchen/bath spending regrets involve cabinetry (62%), countertops (36%), lighting (29%), flooring (27%), refrigerators (21%), faucets (19%), dishwashers (15%) and tub/shower (12%). The top three design elements that consumers wish they’d spent more money on were making the kitchen larger (20%), adding organizational features (18%) and reconfiguring the space (18%).

According to Leslie Gillock, director of insights for Wray Ward, simplifying the remodeling process would go a long way toward helping to minimize homeowner regret. Gillock suggested the following ways manufacturers and designers can work together:

  • Listen: Closely listen to homeowners – for example, their frustrations with their current space, how they live in their home, their budget and their product and design priorities;
  • Prioritize: Insight culled from listening will allow homeowners to prioritize, decide what they are willing to do without and understand how their decisions will impact the project;
  • Reduce: Based on these insights, provide homeowners with a small set of thoughtfully curated options based on their needs and priorities, to help make the decision-making process simpler and less overwhelming;
  • Solve: “It’s easy for homeowners to get lost in a sea of ever-increasing ‘features,’” Gillock said. “Focus instead on how to enable the homeowner to achieve a high-priority desire. Don’t assume the homeowner can easily draw the line between feature and benefit.
  • Build confidence: “Fear of making the wrong decision can lead renovators to make no decision at all,” Gillock noted. “Helping to build confidence along the way can help your clients reach a satisfying decision.”

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