Key Customer Groups Identified at KBDN ‘Insights’ Event

by Anita Shaw

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 fifth 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 & Kitchen Intelligence (RICKI) and Wray Ward, a Charlotte, NC-based marketing communications firm – was aimed at identifying how the kitchen and bath market is evolving in terms of its customer base, and how design professionals are adapting their businesses to deal with current and anticipated demographic changes, lifestyles, household compositions, buying habits and product preferences.

“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, based on a comprehensive, two-phased research study conducted recently by RICKI.

Key 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 cohort, which is only now beginning to make a mark, is seen by surveyed kitchen and bath designers as the most challenging of the 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 more money and buying a move-up home. This client cohort is seen as having major growth potential but must be carefully guided because it often wants more in the way of product and design features than it 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 updated showrooms as a top priority, and design firms report they are increasingly applying resources in that direction, 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 eco-friendly products.


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