The home furniture sector has long been influenced by developments in other industries. Today, the following factors related to social media, mobile technology, and more, are affecting the industry in a number of ways:
Pinterest Leads in Social Media
Consumers still prefer to shop in-store for their home furnishings, but the social media giant Pinterest plays a crucial role in the planning process. According to a study conducted by eMarketer, 93 percent of respondents used the platform to research and plan for a purchase, and nearly half of respondents admitted that the site influenced their purchase decision. As of June of 2016, the percentage of Millennials utilizing the network to research home furnishings stands at 60 percent.
Millennials Buy More
In 2014, Millennials eclipsed Baby Boomers, becoming the generation with the largest purchasing power in the furniture industry. Baby Boomers made up 29 percent of transactions during the year, while Millennials peaked at 37 percent. This reflects a steep increase from 2012, when Millennials represented a mere 14 percent of furniture-related purchases.
Omnishoppers Change the Buying Experience
An omnishopper is someone who leverages technology to gain a comprehensive shopping experience. He or she shops online, inquires about products over the phone, researches potential purchases on mobile devices, and visits brick-and-mortar stores to view and possibly buy items in person. Omnishoppers are demanding and always connected. Most importantly, they value convenience.
Furniture/Today recently conducted a home decorating survey with the readers of the Apartment Therapy website to gain a better understanding of this demographic. Of the more than 1,000 participants, 75 percent utilized online resources to make decisions regarding upholstery pieces, although 45 percent stated they would never buy any upholstery online. More than half of the respondents went to a physical store to shop for upholstery products, and 43 percent of people “pre-shopped” area rugs at a brick-and-mortar location prior to buying. A big complaint from the group was that it was hard to shop via mobile devices because of the difficulties associated with zooming in on an item on a small screen.
People Prefer Vintage
The 2016 Furniture/Today survey also revealed an interest in vintage furnishings, particularly in younger buyers. In fact, over half of the respondents favored vintage furnishings over newly manufactured items. Likely contributors to people wanting vintage pieces are a desire to be eco-friendly by reusing products and a lack of disposable income. Experts also suspect the do-it-yourself (DIY) trend and the thrill of hunting for a special item play a role.
The rising popularity of this style has improved sales at second-hand stores and used outlets. Together, these two segments achieved retail sales in excess of $4 billion in 2015.
Everyone Wants a Different Size
While there is no clear-cut way to determine the perfect-sized couch, certain demographics lean toward similar choices. For example, people living in urban areas, where many dwell in apartments, tend to want smaller sofas. The same is true for those with lower incomes. In contrast, most members of Generation X prefer larger sofas, and 62 percent want a motion sofa.
Mobile Takes Over
In 2014, nearly half of consumers relied on mobile devices to make decisions about buying home furnishings. During the second quarter, mobile sales increased by 47 percent for a total of $6.8 billion.
To determine how the trend was progressing, Furniture/Today tracked web traffic to the site FurnitureDealer.net as far back as November of 2012, when 26 percent of visits to the website came from a mobile device, such as a smartphone or tablet. By February of 2014, mobile traffic reached 45.8 percent before slightly dipping to 42.3 percent two months later. As of October of 2014, the number stood at 47.1 percent, thus indicating that mobile will remain a significant tool in driving furniture sales.
The Wealthy Value Quality Living Spaces
Affluent consumers backed away from buying furniture following the recent recession. However, this population still values quality living and will purchase furniture that reflects their style as long as the product is made from well-crafted, high-quality materials. Affluent customers do not have a preference regarding where they shop. They patronize affordable places, like second-hand stores, as well as luxury home furniture retailers. This demographic is also drawn to lifestyle stores, where, according to a 2014 survey, their primary purchase is accent chairs.