Survey Profiles ‘Discriminating’ K/B Shoppers

CHARLOTTE, NC — Discriminating consumers – the prime prospects for upscale kitchens and baths – exhibit a distinct shopping pattern and are drawn to kitchen/bath remodeling firms that are characterized by high levels of professionalism and knowledgeable, helpful salespeople.

That’s one in a series of insights contained in a recent study co-sponsored by the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) and the Research Institute for Cooking & Kitchen Intelligence (RICKI), an organization of manufacturers, retailers, wholesalers and others tied to the kitchen market.

The study, aimed at exploring the consumer’s decision-making process when undertaking a kitchen or bath remodel, was conducted among 677 kitchen and bath consumers who were identified as “discriminating” because they sought information from a variety of sources, visited showrooms, used a professional designer and spent substantially more on their project than non-discriminating consumers (a median amount of $34,400 compared to $8,750).

The study found, among other conclusions, that discriminating consumers seek information about the kitchen and bath products they purchase from a wide range of sources, with manufacturers’ Web sites and showroom sales personnel leading the list of the “best” sources. Other sources include books or catalogues, showroom displays and magazine/newspaper articles and ads.

Discriminating consumers are also marked by their tendency to “cross-shop” from a variety of places, including kitchen showrooms, custom cabinet shops, home center chains and specialty (for example, appliance, lighting, flooring, plumbing) stores. While the Internet is used by a significant number of discriminating remodeling consumers (41%), very few (5%) actually buy any products for their kitchen remodeling projects online.

Other study findings included the following:

The recommendations of professional designers and installers/contractors have the greatest influence – far greater than word of mouth, location, ads and other factors – on the stores these consumers shop in and the products they purchase.For both kitchen and bath remodels, the store characteristics that drive overall consumer satisfaction the most generally relate to the sales personnel in the store – sales professionals who can give advice about kitchen design questions, salespeople who are interested in the customer’s project and friendliness of the salespeople (see related graphics right).

The top five shopping attitudes of discriminating remodeling consumers are as follows:

1. “The Internet has become an important tool that I use for shopping.”
2. “If I have to choose between my perception of the quality of a product over price, I almost always choose quality.”
3. “I am less likely to shop a store if I don’t approve of their business practices, even if it saves me money to shop there.”
4. “I will go out of my way to get a good deal.”
5. “I will go out of my way for more personal service.”