What’s Next For the Over-Baby-Boomered Home Furnishings Industry?

The Home Furnishings Industry Is Over Baby Boomered!

OK, Folks… I am a Baby Boomer and proud of it. I happen to like the fact that I was born in the fifties and experienced the last vestige of real freedom from too many government regulations and the dying breed of people with good manners.  Common sense was quite common for Baby Boomers… and still is.

So with that said, I must now gripe about the current state of the Home Furnishings Industry which is OVER BABY BOOMERED! Yes, we have demonstrated great talent, brains, product ideologies… and, alas… now fading beauty! We have done well. Super!

OK …

So what’s next for the Home Furnishings Industry?

Are we just all going to die and leave the industry to flounder and become a Baby Boomer graveyard?

Succession Planning is a must!

It is necessary NOW, and it cannot be brushed under the polypropylene carpet anymore! Of course, this is not a “news flash” to anyone who has really thought about the dilemma.

As an aging Baby Boomer, I will now reveal that my first glimpse as a student in High Point was in 1972.  My, my…it seemed to me that High Point represented a vast ocean of successful “VIP” straight males who figuratively “ran the show” and/or sold the heck out of furniture. The demographics were heavily weighted, of course, towards the upwardly mobile male Baby Boomer.

Haven’t things changed? Today when attending the High Point International Home Furnishings Show or the World Market in Las Vegas, I see women everywhere now and gay males! So… what’s wrong with this picture?  Good grief!… nothing ‘cept the vast majority of these demographic representatives are also aging Baby Boomers …….. that’s what!

Here’s another scoop!

When I conduct my not-so “clandestine” web analytics of some major Home Furnishings Industry Suppliers’ websites (who respectfully shall remain nameless), I find that the predominant profiles of visitors are females between the ages of 55 and 65. This demographic alone, in a nutshell, describes a huge, scary problem for the Home Furnishings Industry… a problem that represents a challenge!

Who better to find a solution to this than …
You guessed it … Baby Boomers!

Suppliers, there are virtually no young buyers even shopping online at your website suppliers! YIKES!

Hey… I love us guys, too, but this is ridiculous.

The industry is replete with aging Baby Boomers, and the succession planning has yet to be addressed in a comprehensive way. Select “not for profit” organizations within the Home Furnishings Industry are doing “their part,” like WITHIT (Women In The Home Furnishings Industry Today). However, the vast majority of suppliers, buyers, wholesalers and retailers are aging Baby Boomers. I see only a small minority of anyone between the ages of 21 to 30 during Markets in Las Vegas, High Point, New York or Atlanta for that matter.

When I look at other niches that are attracting young people as cottage industry participants, I see where fashion reins supreme. A trip to MAGIC was most revealing in that there’s a boatload of young faces who are spinning their dreams with fashion. Granted, the barriers to entry are lower, but this is where you will find the entrepreneurs who are jumping out to claim their fame and fortune… not in Home Furnishings. Yes, they are tweeting, digging, facebooking and gmailing, plus they are exhibiting their designs at fashionista related trade events. They are super charged and psyched.

So…what’s wrong with us?

In my opinion, the U.S.A. Home Furnishings Industry needs to innovate with a national, comprehensive, public relations/awareness campaign integrating internet marketing genius and social media (which is both available and affordable) with television, radio and print media to get the message out there that:

  • This is an industry to consider for a career and
  • There are mentors, capital and resources available to those who are savvy enough to want to be a part of something great.

I am convinced that the capital resources must come from those “captains” or “angels”  in the industry who have experienced great success in days past and who are interested in benevolence and/or the thrill of incubating entrepreneurial innovation. Most classic venture capitalists are not interested in taking chances in this industry sector.

Bright, young entrepreneurs are needed in all sectors –  manufacturing, retail, wholesale, design, etc. – who will also attract their contemporaries to realize that there is a “real” business here.

If not, sooner than later, the shrinkage of the industry will continue. There are already too many suppliers, not enough buyers, a retraction of retailers, and a huge deficit of Gen Y’ers and Millennials in the buying marketplace.

‘Nuff said.

Let's go Back to the Future in Home Furnishings!

Let's Go Back to the Future in Home Furnishings!

Linda Carey
Home Furnishings Industry Veteran
Online-Offline Marketing and Planning Consultant