Rise Of Experiential Centers In Furniture Solutions Segment In India
Brands are realizing the potential of experiential centres as a sustainable competitive advantage. This strategy is all about creating a meaningful experience that’ll engage the audiences, in relevant ways.
According to marketing experts, experience Centers is the 'New-Age' Marketing in India. The core of this approach is to establish a positive and interpersonal engagement with consumers that lasts as a memory, of experience, of what it made them feel, of how they spent their time and shape their perception toward a brand. Brands are realizing the potential of experiential centres as a sustainable competitive advantage. This strategy is all about creating a meaningful experience that’ll engage the audiences, in relevant ways.
In the Furniture Industry, the market scenario has changed drastically over the years. The Indian consumers being educated and price-sensitive was always more inclined towards the local markets and invested their faith and money on the local carpenters manufacturing wooden furniture. Over the years, this perception has faded slowly with exposure to the Global markets and interior designs of International quality. Today, consumers are accepting furniture made of particle woods and MDF boards as they are light in weight and looks trendy. The purpose of furniture shopping is changing; consumers are investing in furniture for shorter durations and not to be used by generation after generation. This shift in buying behaviour can be seen more in metro cities where the infrastructure is getting denser leaving very little space for constructing houses and apartments. There are brands in the market that had introduced roller shutters for kitchen cabinets almost a decade ago. The demand for the product was negligible at that time but has now been installed at every apartment considering its 30% space-saving feature. Thus, as per industry experts, compact furniture is the future of the Furniture Industry as it looks trendy and also saves space.
Rise of experiential centers
The age-old furniture designs are going out of market making way for new designs and an average Indian consumer is always skeptical before investing on something new. The furniture industry took no time to realize this aspect of the consumer behavior and thus several brands came up with experiential centers. These experiential centers are designed to give a real-time experience to the consumers on how the furniture will look at their homes. The consumers get the liberty to touch and feel the end product before purchasing which helps them to make a prompt decision. The increased footfall directly impacted the sales in a positive way and the furniture industry witnessed the rise of brands offering experience stores.
Today, there are various brands that are following the same path to generate more revenue. The growth of the organized modular furniture industry is growing with a CAGR of more than 20-22% and the format of the retail experience centers is growing at 1.5 times more than the CAGR of the furniture industry. Brands like Godrej, who were the pioneer in the industry, have also launched their experiential centers to develop a better bond with the consumers. On the other hand, there are brands, which were initially only into furniture component manufacturing but stepped into modular kitchen segment and now has come up with experiential stores focusing on Retail Furniture segment foreseeing the revenue generation capacity of the segment.
Physical vs Virtual Experience
To sustain a growing business, a brand must understand the change in demand of the consumers and experiential centres helps a brand to connect directly with those consumers and understand their requirements. For example, when a consumer is exploring a modular kitchen cabinet at an experiential centre, it becomes easier for him/her to understand what could have been better or what was not required in the set-up. This feedback from a consumer helps a brand to recognize the latest trends and demands in the market and eventually help in staying ahead in the competition. COVID-19 did affect the footfall at these experiential stores but it simultaneously boosted the online sale of space-saving furniture. Consumers are more inclined towards buying compact office furniture which can be used at home as well. However, with the majority of the population getting vaccinated and stores maintaining all the social distancing norms, brands are again reviving their experiential stores. The consumers are again moving towards offline mode as experiencing a product physically always helps build trust more than a virtual experience.
Future of organized Indian Retail market
The experience stores are going to grow with organized retailers like IKEA setting its foot in the Indian market. This is going to encourage retailers like Walmart also, to come to India, and join hands with the local manufacturer which will expand the Indian furniture market. Like International markets, India is also expected to have organized retail stores in the coming years.
The author of the article is Manish Arora, Vice President- Furniture Solutions, REHAU South Asia
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