Consumers are more diverse than ever, which means today’s bedroom furniture must have broad appeal.
More and more consumers want their bedrooms to be a retreat, a restful haven to escape from the daily grind. How that request translates for every individual can vary. Fulfilling that expectation involves many things, not the least of which is the bedroom furniture designs that consumers purchase. Today’s manufacturers have to meet this broad range of demands—from designs that suit the scale of different living spaces to a variety of styles that appeal to consumers’ growing awareness of design.
For retailers the trick is staying on top of what your consumer is interested in and which manufacturers can meet those needs. RetailerNOW talked to a range of manufacturers to get their insights into what the latest trends are for bedroom furniture.
Sized to fit every home
The furniture industry and the housing market are closely intertwined; the fortunes of one can rise and fall with the other. The past several years have seen a rebound in home sales, which always benefits furniture manufacturers and home furnishings retailers. But when it comes to today’s homes, one issue that manufacturers are faced with is the diverse spectrum of home sizes in America, from apartments to townhomes to single-family dwellings with a mix of square footage.
Randy Wells, a vice president for Stanley Furniture, cited the range of home and room sizes as one of the challenges bedroom case good manufacturers must address. “There are a lot of different room sizes out there,” he said. “One of the things we work hardest at is designing bedroom furniture that works with different room sizes.”
Wells feels that although there are a lot of scale variables to consider, ultimately this creates both opportunities and challenges in terms of design. “You have to be careful to not box yourself out of a group of buyers,” he said.
Another area manufacturers must factor in is the range of generations making purchases. “Baby boomers want to reflect their youthful spirit and downsize, Gen X wants to declutter and manage their work/life balance,” Wells explained. “Millennials want to be in urban centers as much as possible.”
A broad spectrum of style
With three generations currently making bedroom furniture purchases, the range of styles has to be pretty diverse. Patricia Bowling, vice president of communications, for the American Home Furnishings Alliance, sees a swing toward contemporary. “In my opinion, this is a result of fatigue with mid-century modern,” she explained. “It’s only natural for designs to keep moving along the contemporary spectrum, which seems to always precede a pendulum swing back to more traditional.”
Wells has a similar opinion. He said Stanley hears a demand for more modern and contemporary, but that for every request there are just as many definitions of what defines modern or contemporary.
“For the purist, it’s most often the period between 1920 and 1950,” he has found. As a manufacturer, Stanley has focused on developing modernized designs “that speak to that clean, uncluttered style we think all three generations like. Boomers often want more eclectic, Gen X likes nostalgic, but not cluttered and embellished, and Millennials like reclaimed and industrial looks.” The trick is finding the balance in that, Wells said, depending on which groups are most important to your business.
But Dave Jaros, vice president and brand director for Heritage Home Group (including Broyhill and Lane) has a different viewpoint based on his customers. “Transitional still drives the Broyhill engine,” he said. “Our customers are still a little more conservative and are not big fans of contemporary bedrooms.”
Max Dyer, vice president, marketing for La-Z-Boy, feels consumers in the mid-priced market continue to gravitate toward traditional bedroom furnishings.
Obviously knowing the likes and tastes of your consumer is essential if you want to keep them satisfied. There is no one size fits all answer in terms of design taste any more, if there ever was.
Offering form and function
Customers will always be drawn to design, but functionality is rapidly catching up in terms of what consumers demand from bedroom furniture. A bed is no longer for sleeping only. Storage drawers continue to grow in demand as do power and USB outlets in nightstands or even in the bed itself. Consumers have wanted multi-purpose solutions in other aspects of their homes for some time, now that request has crept into the bedroom. “Our belief—and it’s obviously not exclusive to us—is that any time you can add function to the bed it’s a good thing,” said Blake Frankovich, vice president of marketing, Riverside Furniture.
Another way of looking at how function in bedroom design has shifted consumer demands and buying practices was voiced by Jaros.
“Bedroom pieces such as armoires have gone the way of the big, boxy TVs that they hid out of site. HHG has re-engineered the armoire to include closets and customized shelves as opposed to the old fixed drawers,” Jaros said. “HHG also continues to focus on the details, such as cedar-lined bottoms in their dressers and jewelry trays as the top drawer.”
Help for the retailer
A true partnership between the manufacturer and the retailer can be beneficial to both groups, obviously. By working together, both presumably will sell more and better serve the consumer. One way this can be accomplished is via education. For example, Dyer shared that their Kincaid division offers retailers an educational video for their sales staff, as well as a training room in High Point. “It’s all about educating them and having them see all the benefits to the work behind our beds, our dressers,” said Dyer. “Too often I think our industry sells our customers short. They don’t always leap at the lowest price. Sometimes they do, but I think if we tell them what (Kincaid) has to offer we can get them hooked. I think that holds true for other (manufacturers) as well.”
Trends on the horizon
Bowling came away from the fall furniture market seeing a lot of focus on drama beds—beds designed to be the centerpiece of the master bedroom—and bed-end benches. While she felt that many of these designs were room stealers themselves, making them unsuitable to pair with the dramatic bed trend, for retailers she saw the benches as a great add-on sale opportunity. “Every bedroom collection includes at least one, if not multiple bed-end benches,” Bowling added.
When it comes to bedroom furniture, a consistent trend is add-on sales according to Venessa Rollins, customer service manager, for Robert James Collections. “The advantage is the customer usually wants nightstands, chests and armoires which is great for upselling,” she said. Another trend that retailers should be aware of in Rollins’ eyes is consumers opting for a headboard only, to address an interest in downsizing or to fit smaller rooms.