Social media is one of the most popular places kitchen and bath dealers and designers use to interact online. However, there does seem to be a bit of a schism here, with dealers and designers either loving social media sites or hating them. In fact, while nearly half of those surveyed say they use social media at least several times a week (and more than one third say they’re on daily), another quarter of those polled say they never use social media (see Graph 3).
“It’s a huge time suck,” explains one such kitchen dealer, who says she sees friends and colleagues losing hours a day to the social media world, without any tangible gain in business to show for it. “It’s easy to get caught up in the whole social media thing, because everyone’s doing it, but in a tight economy, you have to look at what’s going to generate revenue and what’s just a waste of time. I haven’t seen any real evidence that social media brings in clients or generates profits,” she says.
However, another survey respondent had a very different take: “Today, more than ever, it’s all about being out there and making connections. Potential clients can go to my Facebook page and not only learn about my business, but also see designs in progress, read client comments and feel like they’re getting to know me and my business. It creates a comfort level that gives me an edge, which is important when everyone is out getting multiple bids before choosing a designer.”
While not as popular as social media, online videos seem to be gaining traction with kitchen and bath professionals, with 44% of those surveyed saying they watch online videos at least several times a month (see Graph 4). Another 30% say they watch these videos a few times a year, while only a small percentage (6.6%) say they never watch them.
Likewise, Webinars are making slow inroads into the kitchen and bath industry, as greater time constraints and reduced travel budgets have encouraged kitchen and bath dealers and designers to consider educational options that don’t require expensive travel.
That said, according to those polled, Webinars are still something that dealers and designers participate in sparingly, with 42.2% of those polled saying they attend Webinars only several times a year (see Graph 5). By contrast, only 21.6% say they participate in Webinars once a month or more, while 25% never attend Webinars.
But this trend may well grow due to its convenience and time-saving aspects. As one designer states, “Being able to squeeze in some extra training in an hour while I’m eating my lunch is very helpful. Continuing education is important to me, but time is tight, so this gives me the best of both worlds.”
While technology is always growing by leaps and bounds, smart phones in particular are in high demand. And dealers and designers are no exception here, with many jumping on the smart phone bandwagon. In fact, some 22.7% said they currently use an Android-based smart phone, 20.6% said they use an iPhone, 16.6% use a Blackberry and 5.3% use some other smart phone.
But not everyone is fully on board with this trend; more than one third of those polled said they’re still using a basic mobile phone. However, a good number of these said they hoped to upgrade in 2012.
Despite the growing interest in smart phones, the majority of respondents said they don’t use most of the functions on their smart phones, primarily using them to talk, text, send emails and take photos. Only 5.9% said they download business-related apps, 3.2% watch industry-related videos, 1.5% read blogs, and 0.5% attend Webinars with their smart phones.
When asked about their phone purchasing plans for 2012, 16% said they will purchase an iPhone, 7.7% said they will buy an Android-based model and 2.8% planned to purchase a Blackberry (see Graph 6).
When it comes to iPads or tablets, only 12.8% said they currently have one, but nearly one third said they expect to purchase one in 2012, suggesting that tablets will increasingly become a part of doing business in the kitchen and bath industry in the coming year.
While many respondents expressed a desire to upgrade everything from laptops to cell phones in 2012, the economy continues to impact the industry; 38.7%of those polled said they will not be making any technology related purchases in 2012.