In my previous column, I discussed the emerging wave of Generation Y consumers and why it’s essential to keep them in mind as you plan for the future of your business. I would next like to address how we should consider reinventing our showrooms – at least partially – to capture the business of this group of 80-plus million customers.
Generation Y consumers are now entering the age when they will be making their first major financial decisions beyond college. Will a well-designed kitchen and bath be a priority for this group?
Most likely, according to Masco Cabinetry’s GenShift 2011 Report, which surveyed 1,027 homeowners (www.genshiftkitchen.com). The report confirms that the kitchen will remain the heart the home – and that today, this generation spends more time in the kitchen every day than other generations.
That, combined with a wide availability of affordable homes, makes Generation Y a ripe market for the kitchen and bath market. If we don’t prepare to capture them now, it may be a lost opportunity. Those businesses that are able to engage and connect with Generation Y shoppers will position themselves for long-term viability.
So how do you do that?
Give your showroom a good, hard look – not through your eyes, but through the eyes of Gen Y. Do they like what they see and experience? If you don’t know the answer, now is the time to find out, so that your changes and investments match where the market is going.
Traditionally, the showroom and design center has been the starting and ending point for a consumer’s purchasing decisions. Today, the showroom is often the second or third destination in the planning experience, coming after a considerable amount of research on the Internet, and/or viewing educational television like HGTV. That’s why your Web site – your “virtual showroom” – has become your “first impression.”
If you don’t have a Web site, you need to get one. Be sure that it’s engaging, well designed and informative. A bad first impression made by a sloppy, dated Web site is just as detrimental as the first impression made by a dirty, dated physical showroom.
Another fast way to disqualify you among the Gen Y crowd is to have a slow Web site that makes the shopper wait while information loads slowly onto the screen. Gen Y wants it now – and that includes digital communications. Your Web site should not only contain photos and descriptions of your products, but plenty of video as well. Short, two- to three-minute snippets should get to the point, be well done and invite the viewer to visit your showroom for more information.
Your Physical Showroom
I suggest that you keep your Web presence consistent with the feel and appearance of your showroom design. Let them know that they are in the same great place they visited on their laptop and smart phone. The transition from your virtual showroom to your physical showroom should be seamless.
While the Internet age has changed the shopping habits of the young consumer, physical showrooms are still important. However, it’s essential that they are used correctly to cater to the demands of Generation Y.
Serving this powerful crowd by making their decision-making easy may ensure the business of the generations that follow. Be sure that there’s a connection and a relevancy to new emerging audiences, and that you utilize the right display and merchandising formats.
As you rethink your showroom for the next generation, consider the following:
- You don’t have to have a huge showroom for Gen Y. But you do need to have their selections.
- Don’t complicate it. You need to keep your showroom and displays simple. Let them find what they want to make their decisions.
A key element in your showroom should be a large meeting desk or table where customers can relax, spread out and consider their options. Provide room so photos, samples and drawings can be compared and allow for discussion where ideas can emerge and grow.