In a time when google is the ultimate information resource, “friends” are a commodity found on Facebook and everything from phones to refrigerators are “smart,” it’s easy to assume the whole word has gone to the technophiles. And, indeed, technology continues to have a growing impact on everything from the way information is accessed and how products are ordered to how the industry markets kitchens and baths to consumers.
Yet most kitchen and bath dealers prefer to take a middle ground approach that blends elements of high-tech communication with the human touch – balancing magazines and newspapers with Web sites and online videos, trade shows and live conferences with Webinars and online interactive training courses, and e-Newsletters with good old fashioned word of mouth.
In the age of modern technology, kitchen and bath pros have decided that they want the best of both worlds – so that they can access what they need, when they need it and in the format they need it in – whether that’s “live,” online or some combination of the two.
That’s according to a recent KBDN survey that polled more than 540 kitchen and bath dealers and designers about their technology habits and preferred sources for gathering information.
Multiple Information Sources
In a tight economy, information becomes a more valuable resource than ever. So it’s no surprise that kitchen and bath professionals are tapping into multiple information sources to stay abreast of the latest news, products, trends and more.
While online research is popular for its speed, ease of use and 24/7 accessibility, respondents who were polled about where they get their kitchen and bath industry information and news actually cited industry trade magazines as their number one information resource, with 92% of those surveyed citing this as a key source for industry news and information (see Graph 1).
The second most popular information source, not surprisingly, was manufacturer Web sites. As one dealer noted, “The market is still changing fast enough that you need to constantly stay on top of specs, and most manufacturer Web sites are very good about keeping this info up to the minute.”
After manufacturer Web sites, consumer magazines (50.8%) and industry conferences/trade shows (43.4%) were cited as top sources for industry info, followed by e-newsletters (41.4%), magazine Web sites (40.1%) and word of mouth (34.1%).
Webinars were cited by 27.6% of respondents, TV was cited by 19.9% of those polled, live seminars won 19.3% of respondents’ votes and blogs were named by 16% of dealers and designers surveyed.
Twitter was seen as the weakest source of information by those polled, with only 4.3% viewing it as a credible source of industry news or information.
Using the 'Net
The Internet provides both myriad opportunities for seeking out knowledge and numerous platforms for accessing that knowledge. However, not all of those platforms resonate with kitchen and bath professionals. For instance, while 71.3% use the Internet to research product info and literature and 68.9% use it to read news stories, a mere 3.5% of those polled download apps and only 3.3% seek out company social media sites (see Graph 2). Likewise, online opinion forums, which were all the rage a few years ago, seem to be falling by the wayside, with only 1.1% of those polled saying they use the Internet to post on these online forums.
More than one third (38.1%) go online to watch videos, 13.3% sign up for alerts or newsletters, 11.8% purchase products online and 10.9% sign up for Webinars and read blogs, respectively.
Perhaps the best thing about the online medium is how it has evolved. A somewhat static resource in its early years, the Internet has grown into a highly interactive arena where kitchen and bath professionals can not only research information, but also engage with clients, manufacturers and each other.