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Competition Gets More Intense as Shoppers Buy Home Furnishings Less Often, and on Sale

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A new consumer insights study on the home furnishings market released by Unity Marketing (www.unitymarketingonline.com), covering furniture and decorative accents, reveals that the percentage of consumers that bought home goods in the past year dropped dramatically from the previous year. “Purchase incidence — the percentage of adult consumers who purchased specific home products in the past 12 months —  dropped on average 15 percentage points across the 20 different categories of home goods included in the 2004 survey.  The average amount spent in 11 of the 20 categories also declined, reflecting shoppers’ preference for discounters, dollar stores, warehouse clubs and mass merchants for home furnishings. “With fewer consumers buying home furnishings and spending less when they do, home retailers and marketers must take a fresh look at their marketing and branding efforts to make sure they align with consumers’ changing priorities,” says Pam Danziger, president of Unity Marketing and author of Let Them Eat Cake:  Marketing Luxury to the Masses — as well as the Classes.   Already the impacts of a more intensely competitive home retail market is being felt, as Pier 1 just announced comparable store sales declined 9.1 percent in November and Furniture Brands International, the country’s largest home furnishings manufacturer with  Broyhill, Lane, Thomasville, Henredon and Drexel Heritage brands, cautioned stockholders about weakness in fourth quarter results.    Consumers are not cocooning and feathering their nest like they used to; Consumers’ new priority is eliminating clutter and organizing what’s left The cocooning trend was very good to home marketers while it lasted, but today an entirely new sensibility is taking over.  Consumers are downscaling, downsizing and eliminating clutter.  Touch points of the new consumer trend are magazines like Real Simple, dedicated to doing more with less, and shows like TLC’s Clean Sweep and HGTV’s Mission: Organization.  Even the popular home decorating shows like TLC’s While You Were Out and Trading Spaces are not about the materialistic cocooning lifestyle, rather they reflect a new do-it-yourself home decorating approach that is about doing more with less.  The cocooning lifestyle peaked in 1998 when the typical household spent $1,601 on home furnishings and it has been falling ever since.  In 2003 the typical American household spent only $1,497 on home furnishings, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer expenditure survey. “This research predicts the new direction for the home furnishings market and opportunities for marketers and retailers to profit from the changes,” Danziger says. About the insights contained in the Home Report 2004 The consumer insights study, Home Report 2004:  The Who, What, Where, How Much and Why of Home Furnishings Shopping (180 pages), provides details of a telephone survey among 1,000 home furnishing buyers. The results of the 2004 report are compared with comparable results from surveys in 2000, 2001 and 2003 providing a longitudinal perspective on the changes in the home furnishings market.  The study provides industry sales and growth estimates for 20 home furnishings product categories and details of consumer purchase incidence, spending, and where they shop for each product category: -Aromatherapy and/or scented household products, such as potpourri, steamers or sprays -Art, including original art or prints, lithographs, posters and other art reproductions -Baskets, boxes, vases, pots and other decorative holders -Candles and/or candle accessories, such as candle holders -Decorations, such as Christmas and/or other seasonal decorations including party decorations -Collectibles -Figurines and sculptures -Florals and greenery, including dried flowers and wreaths, for indoor use -Flowers, seeds, shrubs and trees for outdoor landscaping -Furniture and occasional furniture, including mattresses and/or box springs, upholstered, case goods -Garden equipment and decorative items for garden or patio - Greeting cards and/or personal stationery -Home textiles, including rugs, throws, pillows, table linens, bed linens, etc -Household storage systems, containers, and other storage solutions -Kitchenware and accessories, such as cooking utensils, pots and pans, and other housewares -Lamps and accent lighting -Picture frames -Tabletop china, crystal, silver and/or casual dinnerware,, glassware, flatware, including serving ware, bowls, and centerpieces -Wall decor, such as sconces, mirrors, shelves, and tapestries -Window coverings, blinds, curtains and other window treatments Five Different Personalities of Home Shoppers Are Discovered There are five different personalities or segments in the home furnishings market, but only two of five spend more than average on home goods.  The report reveals insights into the psychology of selling to each of the five home shopper personalities, their turn ons and turn offs. 15 Key Findings Revealed and 9 Strategic Opportunities Explored The research reveals 15 key findings of changes, shifts and movement in the home furnishings market.  Nine strategic opportunities for home retailers and marketers to grow their sales and expand their share of market are included. Added-Value Special Report:  Luxury Shoppers Are the Home Marketers’ ‘Sweet Spot’ Luxury consumers (incomes $75,000 and above) lead in purchase incidence in 19 of  20 categories in the study and spend more than anyone else.  Luxury consumers’ average spending on home furnishings is 138 times more than the average.  A special section of the Home Report focuses on the latest insights on the luxury home furnishings consumer, including eight things that every home marketer needs to know about the luxury consumer.