As the population ages, new purchasing groups and profiles develop; older clients with more traditional values age and leave the design market, younger clients with fresh ideas emerge. Consider this as both a challenge and an opportunity. Most traditional customers valued long-term relationships with both their designer and the products they purchased from art to upholstery. Once a designer found footing with a developing family they may well have that family in their portfolio for years starting with the parents and working with the children for decades. The acquisition of fine art and furniture were passed from generation to generation. Each generation wanted something fresh but not a dramatic departure from their familial home.
With the passing of time a new group of wealthy, young clientele has emerged, labeled as – Affluent Millennials. This new buying group consists of young adults with fresh, new and bold ideas which are dramatically different from their parents. They desire new design esthetics for their interiors… modern, fresh, clean, and uncluttered. This totally opposite of furnishings of inherited antique furniture or rugs.
More importantly, the design process and the purchasing behaviors are dramatically different. Most, but not all, affluent millennials are working professionals who spend equal time at work and at leisure. Ideas (both conceptual and concrete) as to what they want their homes to look like and “feel” are initially found by searching the web. They also research on-line catalogues and social sites such as Instagram or Pinterest; it is then the designers receive a call from the prospective customer. The designer must “listen” to what this new consumer group would like to have in their interiors and what they want the “feel” to be. Not much thought is given to the long-term investment but rather to the current objective. This is not a negative but it is very much a change in consumer buying patterns.
Is there room to promote long-term thinking? Is there an opportunity to educate younger clients and propose mixing-in some good investment pieces that will add character and individuality to today’s interiors? Design is creating and selling. How can we merge design today incorporating traditional values and ideas with the desire for fresh, clean aesthetics? Can we sell designs tailor made for the client rather than solutions found?
New thoughts for the New Year! What do you think? What challenges or opportunities do you face in your design practice?
For more information read Jeff Fromm’s article: “Affluent Millennials Expect Brands to Become A Resource.”