Leadership Conference Sheds Light on Significant Consumer Trends
The 2015 Furniture Today Leadership Conference, which took place from Dec. 1-3 in Naples, FL, treated a sold-out audience to impactful insights true to its theme of “Furnishing Tomorrow’s America Today.” An impressive roster of speakers honed in on important consumer demographic trends and what they mean for the home furnishings industry.
MicroD sponsored the keynote presentation, “Generation Next: Are You Ready for Millennials?” In his introduction of the speaker, MicroD CEO and President Manoj Nigam shared some observations about key characteristics of the Millennial generation. Millennials currently account for 30 percent of population, as do Baby Boomers, but Millennials are expected overtake Baby Boomers in numbers in just two years.
Millennials want to engage with businesses online, not just receive information, Nigam said. Social media is one way these consumers like to interact with their favorite brands. Millennial consumers also are “device agnostic” in that they will use all sorts of devices, from phones to tablets to PCs. Members of this generation also want to be entertained when they shop, which makes features like product virtualization all the more important, he said.
To help its customers keep pace with the industry’s evolving needs, MicroD is committed to creating new ideas for innovation and improvement every six weeks. To illustrate the sense of urgency needed to respond to rapidly changing demographics, Nigam quoted racecar driver Mario Andretti, who once said, “If everything seems under control, you’re not driving fast enough.”
In the keynote address, speaker Curt Steinhorst of The Center for Generational Kinetics discussed how to best manage and motivate millennial generation employees. He said millennials value innovation and want to make a difference on the job from day one. They value challenges and ongoing feedback and want to be more than “just a number,” even if that means earning less pay, he said. Millennial employees also prefer to learn by example, such as through YouTube videos, Steinhorst shared.
Conference attendees interviewed by Furniture Today shared their own strategies for both employing and selling to the millennial generation. Nebraska Furniture Mart CEO Irv Blumkin said millennials make up two-thirds of his company’s buying team, helping to ensure it stays in touch with the market. To cater to younger consumers, the company also has digital maps in stores and is active on social media.
To attract millennial shoppers, Belfort Furniture added a wine bar and showcases regionally made furniture, a draw for consumers who value the “farm to table” local sourcing approach, said executive vice president Matt Huber. Millennial shoppers enjoy choosing custom finishes and fabrics for home furnishings but expect custom goods to be delivered quickly, Huber told Furniture Today.
The conference also highlighted trends among female shoppers over age 45. Presenter Stephen Reily of VibrantNation.com said these consumers influence many furniture buying decisions — for their millennial children, for second homes and for their own down-sized homes. The latter often need to be completely furnished with new smaller-scale pieces.
Contact [email protected] for more conference highlights.