Market Pulse February 2006

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“I feel that vignettes are definitely more helpful than full room displays. That’s because when you have a full display, people tend to get overwhelmed. From my experience, the vignettes work a lot better for me than full kitchen displays. I can show more with vignettes, [which is important when space is limited], and I believe that being able to show more product gives me an advantage. Because of the way we have it set up, and each vignette is angled, potential customers can see all of the kitchen displays when standing outside the showroom. The vignettes also work well because they limit the customer to a small section of the kitchen. They can get a sense of what they want. If they see a huge kitchen, or a full display of a kitchen, they can’t visualize what it will look like in their kitchen. With the vignette, they don’t have a visual aspect of the kitchen – they just see what is there. Therefore, we generally update our vignettes every year or two. It depends on what sells.”
Derek Zylewiscz, president,
Urban Homes,
New York, NY

“Full displays are definitely more advantageous in my opinion. We do the full display with some other vignettes of the same product so that we can show as many of the incidentals and upgrades as possible. You can’t do that with vignettes alone because you don’t have enough cabinets to do that correctly. I used to have a small showroom, and the vignettes worked only because we had smaller space. But if you have the room, it’s better to put in at least one full kitchen and the vignettes in the other areas. We have a full kitchen and three vignettes, and we have sold more from the full kitchen than anything else. If you are going to have different things, they need to be very different. For instance, we have nine bath vignettes on display, but they are all so different. That way, it’s not as confusing for the customer. If you have three cherry lines on display, it does get confusing for customers. We probably change displays every three or four years. We’ve had our new showroom for three years now and have already changed out one kitchen, simply because it was a popular size, but [the manufacturer] changed the door style a bit. For our purposes, we have the main kitchen that will attract 70% to 80% of the people, and a couple of vignettes that will attract 20% to 30% of the people. That is what works best for us.”
Joe Christenson, owner/president,
Remodel Works Bath & Kitchen,
Poway, CA

“I think full displays are more advantageous, especially from the viewpoint that it allows consumers to see what a kitchen could look like. Of course you have to factor in the cost aspect of displays. Quite frankly, I’ve been able to sell several kitchens without any displays. I think it all comes down to the amount of confidence that you can generate in your customer. If you are an experienced design firm, where a lot of your business comes from referrals, then I think you can get by with vignettes. I think more of the selling process has to do with the consumer’s confidence in the designer. Even if we use a small display, we try to improve features in the display that set that line apart, such as the roll-out shelves or lazy Susans, for example. You want that, even in a small display. However, we probably only update our displays every few years. But a lot of times, it depends on the customer and whether or not they become overwhelmed by this – some may not want to change a thing.”
Mae Zagami, owner,
Creative Designs in Kitchens,
Stow, MA

“Our showroom has full displays right now. We’ve always done much better using full displays rather than vignettes, as most of our vignettes typically consist of a 36" furniture piece. This is something you can easily resell after three or four years go by and changes in cabinetry occur. Usually people like to see a small or medium-size full display. We also show appliances with them for several reasons, although we don’t get involved selling appliances with customers. When you put in a 3' refrigerator, you don’t have to spend money for a 3'-tall cabinet. It also makes the kitchen look more complete. It helps our selling approach because it shows people how a wood front would look on a dishwasher, for instance, and people can visualize how everything will look. Inevitably, once customers see the kitchen, they will ask if we sell appliances, and we can direct them to someone who does. It allows us to give the customer a complete kitchen, so they don’t have to go out on their own and look for appliances. It really allows us to help them, and educate them, during the selection process. We are constantly updating displays. In fact, we just installed two and are installing two more now. If you don’t start showing the new fashions in kitchens, you’re not going to have customer interest.”
Al Dekker, president,
Customwood Kitchens,
Westmont, IL

“I prefer a mix, because I think a little bit of full display is necessary to give people a feel for the space. However, I don’t have a lot of square footage here, and I want to be able to show a variety of product. It really helps in our sales approach and creativity. In terms of sales approach, I need enough kitchen to talk about the flow of space and how things sit together, and why it is important to have enough counter space in enough areas. “If I was selling appliances, I would probably opt for doing full displays. So I want to show more design ideas with the space that I have here. I really try to watch the market trends in our area, and the national trends, which are usually ahead of us here in Montana. I try to anticipate what the market here is doing to be sure I have a good representation of products. However, it’s hard to be all things to all people. I know that a lot of dealers are putting that digital imagery on a screen in the showroom that continuously plays, and that gives you the opportunity to have multiple displays for people to view in one space. In fact, I can see that a lot of people do business without even having a showroom. But I really think that people like the hands-on feel – they want to experience the soft-touch glide, and they want to see it in your showroom.

“Theoretically, I would like to change our displays every five years, but sometimes we’re too busy. What I noticed is that the interior features change as fast as – or faster than – the exterior. The benefit of just changing the look is sometimes not enough. So many times, it’s the interior features that drive my display changes, far more than the exterior.”
Kristie McPhie, CKD,
McPhie Cabinetry,
Bozeman, MT