Stay up-to-date with home furnishings consumers
I was recently speaking to a retailer who was making a case for how much the furniture business has changed.
He noted that back in the days when Buddy Holly and the Platters had hit records and cars had big tail fins, retail, especially furniture retail, was often conducted on a gut-level.
A retailer had a hunch that a collection would sell, placed his order, then lived or died by his intuitive prowess, he told me.
Fast forward 50 years, he said, and you will find today's retailers are armed with statistics, analytics, demographics and mountains of in-depth reports that literally get inside the heads of modern day shoppers.
Those reports, he opined, are critical because today's consumer lives in a completely different world and as such, her concerns are vastly different from those of her counterpart living in the 1950s.
And speaking of consumer studies, I recently came across a very interesting survey conducted with 20 women in order to "study the consumers of furniture and attitudes toward the retailers from which they make their purchases."
One of the findings underscored our industry's need to be more consumer-centric. Specifically, the respondents indicated that shopping for furniture was an "ever-existing dilemma," and further described the shopping experience as being marked by frustration, bewilderment and confusion.
In terms of what impacted the respondents' decisions, the group was evenly split between price versus "style and appearance."
The survey also revealed that a lack of confidence in terms of buying furniture resulted in the consumer putting her furniture purchase on the back burner.
While those surveyed said furniture is perceived as an "aesthetic good," they added that in order to appreciate this good, one must possess "good taste."
The challenge, the study found, is that while the majority of those interviewed said they felt they should have this fashion sense, only a few felt that they actually possessed it.
The feeling that they should be able to do something they believe they are unable to do creates a feeling of anxiety about the entire process of shopping for home furnishings.
As you are reading this, if you agree that this indeed underscores some of the challenges of selling today's consumer, I have a confession to make.
While this study is legitimate, it was conducted by the Chicago Tribune back in the heyday of rock' n' roll - 1959 to be exact.
So maybe the old saw that observes that the more things change, the more they remain the same, still has teeth.
What do you think?