Affluent soccer moms? Niche groups could lead furniture buying next year

Joanne Friedrick//Research Editor//October 10, 2023

NEW YORK — The furniture industry can take solace in the fact that about two-thirds of U.S. shoppers plan to buy home furnishings in the next year, but the biggest spenders are likely to be from niche groups.

The Provoke Insights fall 2023 study, conducted in conjunction with Furniture Today, reveals that shoppers expecting to spend $1,000 or more on furniture come from three distinct demographics: high-income individuals (65%), parents (53%) and Millennials (52%).

Looking more generally, 68% of those surveyed said they planned to buy furniture of any price in the next year. Interest was strongest among Gen Z (82%) and Millennials (72%), as well as parents (81%), those in a good financial situation (73%) and urban dwellers (77%).

The survey showed monthly furniture purchases inched up slightly this fall, with 13% saying they made a furniture purchase in the past month vs. 12% who did so in spring.

Inflation remains a concern among consumer as 32% of furniture shoppers have noticed a price increase. This number has held steady since 2022.

However, respondents have seen the impact of inflation to a lower extent in the furniture store category than in other retail channels in which they may also shop for furniture such as big box/superstores (58%), department stores (56%) and e-commerce sites (41%).

The leading categories on consumers’ furniture shopping lists are sofa/loveseats (34%), mattresses (32%), bedroom furniture (31%) and lamps/lighting (30%). Those numbers mirror fairly closely what respondents said in a spring study when mattresses took the top spot, followed by sofas, lighting and bedroom sets. Baby furniture and buffets/sideboards rank lowest among all categories offered for the fall survey.

The majority of respondents (62%) continue to make furniture purchases in person vs. using a computer (25%) or a smartphone (15%). This fits with the 52% of planned purchasers who said they enjoy browsing through store aisles. And even 39% who aren’t making a purchase still like the window-shopping experience.

A little more than one-fourth of respondents (27%) noted that brand names were very or extremely important to them when making a furniture purchase, while 23% said brand was not important at all. The remaining half categorized brand as being somewhat or moderately important.

When compared with other product categories, furniture is among the lowest in brand loyalty, which sees its highest numbers in electronics, beer, vitamins, video games and airlines. Only apparel and home improvement products have lower brand loyalty than furniture. The ranking was based on the percentage of respondents who stated they mostly purchased a particular brand or only purchased that brand.

More important to furniture buyers is the sustainability message, with 81% agreeing they would pay more for sustainable items. How much more? About one-fifth (19%) would pay between 10% and 24% extra, while 38% would ante up between 5% and 9%, and about the same number (37%) would only opt for a premium of between 1% and 4%.

Social media is also having a bit of an impact on furniture shoppers. One-fifth said they remember furniture ads the most when they come from YouTube, and 17% acknowledged they are more motivated to learn about a furniture brand after seeing an ad on Instagram.

For its fall survey, Provoke Insights polled 1,500 U.S. participants between ages 21 and 65 during September.

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