LAS VEGAS — Demographics, technology and design meta-trends are converging to drive rapidly changing consumer demand for new products, features, price points and marketing support – and it’s more critical than ever to identify emerging opportunities and seize them.
That was the message conveyed to more than 100 manufacturing executives at the sixth annual “Insights” breakfast event, co-sponsored by Kitchen & Bath Design News at last month’s Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS) in Las Vegas.
The hour-long presentation – co-produced by the Research Institute for Cooking and Kitchen Intelligence (RICKI) and Wray Ward, a Charlotte, NC-based marketing communications firm – was aimed at identifying how the kitchen/bath market is evolving in terms of its customer base, and how design pros are adapting their businesses to deal with current and anticipated household compositions, lifestyles, buying habits and product preferences (see related Editorial).
“Dealers, designers and manufacturers must tap into the latest insights to ensure that their products and marketing efforts align with the most promising client segments,” said Wray Ward’s Director of Insights Leslie Gillock, who led the presentation, which was based on a comprehensive, two-phase research study conducted recently by RICKI.
Key current and emerging customer segments were identified as follows:
- Younger Starters: People in their 20s or 30s who are in the market for, or have recently purchased, their first home. This customer segment, which is only beginning to make its mark, is seen by surveyed kitchen/bath designers as the most challenging of the four key groups, often possessed of unreasonable expectations based on online sources, TV and other forms of “inspirational programming.”
- Moving-Ups: Homeowners in their 30s or 40s who are earning higher-than-ever incomes and buying a move-up home. This client cohort is seen as having major growth potential, but must be carefully guided because customers often want more in the way of product and design features than they can afford.
- Midlife Made-Its: Homeowners in their 40s or 50s who are at the peak of their earning years and want an upgraded kitchen or bath. This influential client segment, which remains the “sweet spot” of the market, doesn’t like to compromise and is willing to spend.
- Older Next-Phasers: Homeowners in their 50s or 60s who are at, or nearing the end of, their traditional work lives and are planning for, or entering, the next phase of their lives. High-quality products that provide the lifestyle, healthy home and Universal Design features these clients desire are priorities for this customer segment.
To address growth-oriented customer segments, design pros are increasingly shifting their marketing efforts to digital platforms, utilizing cutting-edge technology – including social media, 3D design software and virtual reality tools – revising their marketing strategy and/or messaging and altering their product mix, according to Gillock.
Design firms also see updating their showrooms as a top priority, and design firms report they’re increasingly applying resources in making showroom upgrades, Gillock added.
Among the products seen generating the highest future demand are custom cabinetry, smart/connected appliances, specialized storage, luxury plumbing fixtures, countertops with high-end features and unique ventilation hoods and backsplashes. A high percentage of surveyed designers offer or plan to offer more in the way eco-friendly products, the RICKI research found.