Opportunities, Challenges Seen Emerging With Changing Client Base

by Anita Shaw

EVANSTON, IL — Today’s evolving base of kitchen and bath customers is creating new opportunities – along with new challenges – for design professionals confronting an ever-widening range of lifestyles, homeowner needs, buying habits and product preferences.

That’s the key conclusion of a major new survey aimed at determining 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.

The online survey, which polled nearly 300 kitchen/bath design pros, was conducted by the Research Institute for Cooking & Kitchen Intelligence (RICKI), exclusive research partner of Kitchen & Bath Design News. Four life-stage customer segments – “Younger Starters,” “Moving-Ups,” “Midlife Made-Its” and “Older Next-Phasers” – were explored.

The segments were defined as follows:

  Younger Starters: Those in their 20s or 30s who are in the market for, or have recently purchased, their first home.

  Moving-Ups: Homeowners in their 30s or 40s who are earning more money and buying a move-up home.

  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.

  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.

According to the survey’s findings, the key customer segments for today’s kitchen/bath design professionals are “Midlife Made-Its” and “Older Next-Phasers.” Most surveyed design pros believe, however, that the segments with the greatest growth potential in the next five years will be “Moving-Ups” and “Midlife Made-Its.”

Kitchen/bath design pros also feel that “Younger Starters” are the most-challenging customers, followed by “Moving-Ups,” the KBDN/RICKI survey found. The primary challenges, designers say, emanate from the vast sources of information these customers access (often online), with expectations based on TV and other forms of “inspirational programming.” The result, designers say, are kitchen/bath remodeling projects that are conceived with an unreasonable wish list and a limited, often unrealistic budget.

To address growth-oriented customer segments, surveyed designers and dealers say they are – or soon will be – utilizing an increasing range of new technology, revising their marketing strategy and/or messaging, changing out showrooms and altering their product mix.

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, the survey found.


Editor’s Note: An in-depth exploration of “Profit Opportunities in Today’s Changing Customer Base” will be the focal point of the Sixth Annual “Insights” breakfast event, co-sponsored at the 2020 Kitchen Bath Industry Show (KBIS) by Kitchen & Bath Design News, RICKI and Wray Ward, a Charlotte, NC-based marketing communications firm.

The invitation-only event, aimed at manufacturing and marketing executives, is scheduled to take place Wednesday, Jan. 22 at the Renaissance Las Vegas Hotel, adjacent to the Las Vegas Convention Center, the site of KBIS.

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