The past few years have been incredibly kind to the kitchen and bath market, particularly from the remodeling standpoint. Consumers are projected to drive some $162.4 billion in revenue for the industry this year — a 14 percent decline compared to 2022, but still a strong year when you look back further in the National Kitchen & Bath Association’s research history. Further, with interest rates still high and consumers staying put in their current homes, the remodeling market is expected to drive most of that revenue, according to NKBA.
All that said, there’s been plenty of interest throughout the industry in understanding how independent kitchen and bath showrooms have fared throughout the pandemic and what their outlook is for the next few years. And, to that end, NKBA recently completed its first-ever study of that particular segment. The report gathered insights from 158 different independent showroom dealers, 142 designers and 750 homeowners who completed a kitchen or bathroom remodel within the last two years. The intent of the study was to learn more about how all three of those segments view the current and future state of independent showrooms. NKBA shared the findings of that research during a webinar this week.
At its highest level, the report showed that homeowners still place a great deal of value in the in-person experience at the independent K&B showroom. While a majority of consumers (63 percent) may let the professionals (designers, general contractors, etc.) make the final purchase of new hardware and other remodeling products, they tend to stay very involved throughout the installation process. And, I mean, who wouldn’t want to be a key contributor in some of those decisions when, after all, it is your house that these products and other finishes are ultimately going to be installed in?
Regardless, the study revealed several findings that stood out. Findings that showed just how much of an opportunity there is for dealers in the K&B space to boost business in a variety of ways and just how much consumers value — and prefer — shopping at independent showrooms.
Let’s dive into three of them.
Spending goes up 31 percent when visiting a showroom.
If this was an article about the most important data point from the survey, my vote would be for this one right here. NKBA’s report could’ve told us nothing else other than this, and it would’ve still been worth it. There are the anecdotal insights we gather that talks about the value of the in-person experience for the consumer, but this data point right here proves just how valuable it can be for the dealer.
Consumers surveyed by NKBA for this report mentioned that they have limited knowledge of the K&B market when they go into a showroom. Their main objectives (or their designer’s main objectives for the homeowner) are to see and touch product, get demonstrations and side-by-side comparisons and to view product in an actual kitchen or bath setting — and, of course, to ultimately purchase the product.
However, when the homeowner gets into the showroom, they often find that their expectations are exceeded in terms of products they intend to purchase. In other words, while they may have done some research and set a budget for themselves, when they go in person to a showroom, they end up significantly upgrading their product package by an average of 31 percent. In numbers sense, a client with a $41,000 kitchen remodel budget walks into an independent K&B showroom and will end up spending nearly $54,000 after seeing and experiencing the full range of available product.
According to NKBA’s survey, in-person product upgrades happen 86 percent of the time.
60 percent of consumers do a virtual tour before visiting in store.
The numbers aren’t as significant as traditional retail, but a majority of consumers still initiate their K&B showroom shopping journey online, according to NKBA’s study. Nearly two-thirds of consumers said they did a virtual tour of the showroom before deciding to visit in-person. Another 14 percent said they didn’t do the virtual tour only because it wasn’t an option.
What this tells us is that no matter the industry, dealers — or in this case independent K&B showrooms — need to ensure that their digital space is on par with what they’d want a consumer to see when they walk through the physical doors of their showroom. More often than not today, the virtual experience is the first touchpoint that a consumer will have with your brand, and it could make or break that relationship.
So, if you want to get potential clients into your showroom, you first have to impress them with a meaningful experience online.
62 percent of consumers rank independent showrooms as a high influence on purchase decisions.
And once the client does come into your store, it’s likely that you have a major role to play in their purchasing journey. According to the NKBA’s study, the three highest rated influences on a homeowner’s product purchasing decision were in-person experiences. The designer ranked highest (identified by 65 percent of consumers), followed by big box stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s (63 percent), and then independent showrooms.
Independent dealers ranked equally as high as social media as an influencer on the product journey (62 percent) while outranking the likes of YouTube (61 percent), design websites (57 percent), network shows like HGTV (56 percent) and product manufacturer websites (53 percent).