2019 Kitchen and Bath Forecast Changes Part III

By Thad Whittenburg

Well, now it’s time to get down to the most important segment of this whole series. The consumers.

At the end of the day, your business doesn’t exist without them. I always get concerned when I hear dealers complain about customers and how their expectations seem to be harder to meet.

Interesting, since we are all consumers and every one of us has higher expectations of the companies we purchase from. When we experience something that is easier, more convenient, user-friendly, etc. it sets our own bar higher so why would your customers be different?

The bottom line is that it isn’t going to change so we better get used to it and try and get ahead of the curve.

So, let’s outline where and why customer expectations are changing:

1. Value – I often hear that customers want the cheapest price. If that was true, then all the lowest-priced products would have the highest market share. Far from the truth. But please keep in mind that we went through one of the longest recessions since the Great Depression. That has a big impact on how people spend money. They are a lot more conservative. Now it’s true that mid and lower-priced products are growing in market share but that’s also due to their quality, not just the cost. This doesn’t necessarily mean that all customers are going to gravitate towards the lower price, but that they need to feel like they are receiving a superior product coupled with an amazing experience if they are going to spend more money. That trend is not going to reverse itself any time soon.
2. Presentation of product and designs – Whether it’s Property Brothers using NEEZO Renderings or Fixer Upper (Chip and Joanna Gaines) applying SketchUp in their presentations, people love seeing their projects in VR. Companies like Ikea and Lowe’s already have it available. Design software like 2020 and ProKitchens offer these options as well, but only a small percentage of companies are utilizing them. I am pretty sure that’s going to change this year. So, get trained, and make it a standard when it comes to your presentation process.
3. Positive Experience – This is the most important one. This includes a convenient, personalized, easy, and fun process. Yes, fun! If you haven’t already outlined your customer’s purchasing journey, you need to get started on it now. If you aren’t delivering touchpoints that are creating amazing memories, then don’t count on your customers to be one of your raving fans. They can be your best salespeople but not without a process and culture that makes it special. The bottom line, these days they expect more.

On a positive note, if you can become a company that is innovative and passionate about the customer experience, you will certainly be in a good position to grow your business much quicker than your competition.

Please be sure to come by and visit us at our booth next week at KBIS if you are there. We’d love to meet you in person.