In this article we will talk about the opportunities for growth and innovation in the furniture and design sector.
Today, the context in which operators in the sector are moving is complex, but in strong recovery. Although rising raw material costs and delays in sourcing have delayed deliveries and increased costs for the final consumer, the market is currently reacting positively, more than expected especially with regard to B2C.
Many entrepreneurs in the sector have said that - between this year and last year - they have seen a flow of purchase 50% higher than in the previous period.
Although it is positive news, which demonstrates the unassailable value of the sector, it is still necessary for companies to continue to face and integrate the changes that have occurred in this last period, both in terms of the relationship with the B2C market, and especially for B2B.
It is also interesting to note how this difficult situation has helped to raise awareness of its potential and has generated new opportunities that can be seized even at a long distance.
In this article we will tell you what are the best solutions to face the months and years to come.
Value China: the bridge between the West and East
Thinking about the growth of the sector from a global perspective, it becomes essential to consider a country in profound transformation like China: a market, that of Chinese furniture, which in recent times has evolved rapidly, so much so that it represents a great opportunity for international brands.
In fact, young Chinese consumers today fully embrace Western influences in design, especially Italian ones.
This “tasteful” evolution is a reflection of a change by Chinese consumers, who now require a wider variety of styles and aesthetic influences, in addition to local ones.
Chinese artists and designers have created a mix of Chinese and Western elements to create sophisticated and contemporary environments in the style defined as "contemporary Chinese minimalist".
Brands that want to expand in China have the primary objective of clearly defining and identifying a target audience. It is of paramount importance to fully understand the target audience by successfully delineating their lifestyle interests.
It becomes easier at this point to identify and adapt the product to push into the market and work on an intelligent online and offline development strategy, including both physical and digital retail. In addition, finding the right communities and KOLS to collaborate with is essential to better communicate your brand to the right consumers.
To achieve this goal and expand its market in the Far East, Value China represents the best consulting, marketing and digital transformation agency for China, able to support companies in enhancing their market presence, improving their visibility, awareness and KPIs.
Mixed Reality for forniture and design
The furniture industry must be able to get customers to touch the products themselves. However, this does not mean that most of the public - at a stage prior to purchase - decide to inform themselves through digital channels.
Usually, after searching on Google or browsing through some design magazines, interested users inevitably end up visiting the brand's website, eager to see and learn more about the products. At that moment, on that touchpoint, the possible buyer makes a decision: go to the store to maybe buy, or continue the search.
It is therefore essential that the brand offers an engaging and effective virtual product vision experience, which stimulates the user's interest and convinces them to head towards the store.
This applies to B2C, but also - especially today - to B2B.
Mixed Reality is a solution for virtual experiences that brings together two similar technologies conceptually, but very distant as modes of use: Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality.
The first uses a tool - mainly the smartphone - to place 3D models of objects, including animated objects, with which the user can partially interact, in the surrounding environment.
The second, on the other hand, requires a dedicated viewer, which, once worn, projects the user into a totally virtual reality, where they can move freely and interact with the environment.
What are the applications of these technologies for furniture?
As Ikea Place has taught us over the years, there is no better tool than Augmented Reality to allow users to test how furniture is positioned within living spaces. The success of the experience proposed by the Swedish giant shows, if therewas still a need, that the public is ready and wants such an offer.
With regard to Virtual Reality, this technology has proved particularly effective for B2B, as it is able to offer buyers an engaging virtual experience, which is not limited to the physical presence at trade fairs.
For example, by sending the visors directly to the interested parties, they will be able to discover and interact with the new collections. Open a sofa bed to see what's inside? It can be done. Put the extension cord on a table? Also. Today this technology has reached unimaginable quality levels.
Enriching the pre-purchase stages has become essential.
The value given to the customer experience, today increasingly focused on digital, is the discriminating between success and failure.
Customer Data Platform
Without going into technicalities, in this section we will explain what are the advantages of adopting a Customer Data Platform (CDP) and implementing strategies to acquire the contact and personal information of users and customers.
Often companies that sell furniture, both B2C and B2B, make a mistake: they forget to retrieve customer data.
As for B2B, the motivation is only one: as medium-small buyers (architects, restaurateurs, etc.) turn directly to third parties, their data remains with retailers and does not reach the brand.
With regard to B2C, on the other hand, in addition to the discussion on retailers (equally valid), there is another very simple reason: those who buy a kitchen, a sofa or sanitary ware are unlikely to repeat the purchase in the short or medium term; for this reason many companies decide not to retrieve customer data to contact and retain it. The common view is that this is an overly costly and dispersive activity, which does not bring any real benefits.
In doing so, the company loses an opportunity to establish a link with the customer who, although perhaps not in the immediate future, will undoubtedly bring advantages.
Let's imagine that a lawyer - an amateur but passionate cook - has to renovate his house. He shows up at a retailer and buys the kitchen of his dreams. The brand retrieves the data of the new customer. He asks him to activate the kitchen guarantee on his website. It then stores its data and inserts it into its Customer Data Platform.
A few days later he sends an email to the customer offering a discount on a cooking class.
After a month, however, he gives him a discount code for the purchase of professional cooking utensils.
The second month he writes to the customer to invite him to participate in a competition: by completing the questionnaire he will be able to win a dinner cooked at home by a three Michelin star chef.
As time goes by, a link will be created between brand and user.
When the customer will have to recommend to friends which kitchen to buy, he will recommend his own. When he has to change his kitchen in the beach house, he will always buy from the same brand.
The same applies to B2B: perhaps the manufacturer in this case - after the purchase - will offer discounts for the tiles of a partner, or architects a masterclass with a famous international designer. The more benefits the brand offers, the more professionals will return to purchase.
In any case, the discourse is always the same: creating a relationship with customers is what allows a company to grow over time, with the awareness of being able to count on a solid base of enthusiasts.
The Customer Data Platform serves precisely this purpose: to create relationships, to make contact with the public easier, thanks to automation and customization, and to facilitate the management of customers and their data.
Ultimately, for the furniture and design sector it is time to change some operational and strategic paradigms, to continue to grow and bring the quality of Made in Italy throughout the world.
If you are interested in exploring the applications of Neosperience technologies in the sector, please contact us by clicking on the link below.