Business of Design

Design Business Blueprint: a designer’s most precious commodity, time

Staying ahead of the curve allows you to adapt to industry changes without compromising the quality of your work.

Making 2024 a profitable year for your design firm

The vast majority of interior designers are in business to make money. It’s not a hobby or volunteer project, right? But some designers aren’t giving the business side of their firm the attention it deserves, according to findings from a Pearl Collective survey. We look at some areas you might want to address to make next year your most profitable year ever.

Design Business Blueprint: burning bright instead of burning out

While the excitement of taking on every design job that comes your way can be hard to quell, discernment is key. Saying “no” isn’t a rejection of the opportunity, it’s a strategic decision to maintain balance in your busy schedule and life.

Demarc designs for work-life boundaries

With the creation of their HQ system, Demarc set out to design a home office system that ‘demarcates’ the office space when opened up and can be closed up to create physical and mental separation from the living space when the work day is over. 

Decor News Now is collaborating with interior design business strategist Yudi Kaufman, YKD Associates, for an exciting discussion at Feizy’s High Point Market Showroom

As a multifaceted business strategist, entrepreneur, and creative, Yudi Kaufman, founder and president of YKD Associates, is uniquely a left-and-right-brainer. With over a decade of experience successfully navigating the home furnishings and interior design industry from the inside out, he is announcing an exciting collaboration for High Point Market, with an informative talk on How to Grow Your Design Business. Yudi commented, “In these turbulent times, where the design industry’s landscape can change overnight, the need to focus on creative strategies and business growth has never been more pressing.”The collaborative talk titled, “Design Business Blueprint: Discover How to Strategize and Grow Your Design Business” will feature an exclusive one-to-one chat between Yudi Kaufman, Founder & President of YKD Associates and Business Development & Licensing Expert, and Courtney Porter, Editor in Chief of Decor News Now.

How ‘zero’ consumers are driving business

A new cadre of consumers are emerging: the “zeros.”
These shoppers have zero boundaries, zero interest in middle-market goods, zero loyalty and zero patience, according to a report from global consulting firm McKinsey published in its McKinsey Quarterly journal.
But brands, retailers and designers who understand their motivations and priorities could cultivate these consumers, adding zeros to their bottom line.
Let’s take a look at their traits, one by one:
Zero boundaries
Consumers continue to favor an omnichannel retail model, moving frequently (and hopefully seamlessly) between in-store and online shopping. When they choose to shop through which channel depends on a host of factors, including what they’re buying, their mood, how much time they have, and if they happen to be near a store or cozily ensconced on their sofa when they remember they need something. McKinsey notes that “even grocery, once a stubbornly store-based category, is becoming solidly omnichannel, with nearly 40% of U.S. consumers saying they do at least some of their grocery shopping online.”
Overall, about three-quarters of consumers still prefer to purchase furniture in-store, but that’s driven by older consumers and a desire among all ages to feel/lie down on big-ticket, comfort-focused items like sofas and mattresses, according to new Consumer Insights Now research. (Consumer Insights Now research is conducted on behalf of Decor News Now and its sister publications to provide actionable information for furniture buyers ahead of the High Point Market each fall and spring.)
But if you dig into the CIN numbers, you’ll see that younger shoppers are more likely to buy all categories of furniture online, and home furnishings shoppers of all ages more evenly split their shopping between e-commerce and brick-and-mortar stores when they are buying smaller items like rugs, lighting and decorative accessories.
Today, omnichannel retail extends beyond the typical brick-and-mortar/e-commerce dichotomy and into shopping via social media and relying on influencers and celebrities for product information, McKinsey notes. CIN research shows more than one in 10 shoppers relies on social media posts from influencers/celebrities for product guidance. That figure doubles to two in 10 shoppers when considering just adult Gen Z shoppers (ages 18-26) — and they are helping to define the future of retail.
Zero interest in the middle
We’ve been seeing a bifurcation across consumer product markets for some time, with consumers, as McKinsey puts it, “either scrimping or splurging.” The report notes that the total share of consumer dollars spent on midpriced goods and services has dropped nearly 10% in the past five years. The trend is being accelerated, in part, by economic realities. Consumers on the bottom rungs of the economic ladder are getting hit harder by inflation, with wages that aren’t keeping up, and are looking for bargains. Consumers on the upper rungs often want the quality, durability and prestige that can come with higher-priced goods.
Concerningly, it appears that more consumers may be in that first group. McKinsey notes that last spring, 80% of U.S. consumers said they were “trading down to lower-priced options.”
To help cover the costs of furniture that might be immediately out of reach, about one in four shoppers plans to use financing options (such as personal or retailer-branded credit cards) that allow for monthly installment payments to pay for big-ticket furniture like dining tables, sofas, recliners and mattresses, CIN research found. And about four in 10 are more likely to buy from a store that offers financing options — and that’s a way retailers can step shoppers up to higher-end goods.
One group that has money to spend is older consumers with disposable incomes. I wrote about these vibrant mature consumers recently.
Zero loyalty
There was a time when one way many families identified themselves was by the car brand they favored. There were Buick buyers and committed Cadillac owners. (Truth be told, I have a Honda habit.) In some ways, the same was true of furniture. My family was a fan of Ethan Allen, and I still have inherited pieces from that brand in my home.
But brand loyalty is waning. “About half of consumers reported switching brands in 2022, compared with only one-third in 2020,” McKinsey notes. “What’s more, about 90% said they’ll keep switching.” That doesn’t mean companies can skimp on brand-building efforts, but it does mean they can’t rest on their reputation. Instead, brands, retailers and even designers need to continually innovate and offer new products and services that meet consumers’ evolving needs and give them a reason to return.
Zero patience
Consumers want what they want — and they want it now. We see this most clearly when it comes to free standard shipping, an expectation driven by Amazon’s next-day and same-day delivery service, as well as buy online, pick up in-store services offered by many retailers. “A plurality of customers today report that three-day shipping is the slowest they’ll tolerate before looking to other retailers,” McKinsey notes.
Consumers shopping for larger furniture pieces are a little more patient, CIN research shows. For instance, 37% of those in the market for dining room furniture are willing to wait two to three weeks for their purchase to arrive. But more than one in 10 expects delivery in less than a week, and two in 10 want their furniture in a week. The expectations are similar when it comes to delivery of reclining chairs, according to CIN.
Thankfully, supply chains once bottlenecked by pandemic closures have returned to almost normal. Bringing production back to North America is also helping many brands deliver orders more quickly to both retailers and consumers. Such improvements are helping designers better meet the needs of their clients, too. Some designers are also offering smaller, preset design packages that allow clients to enjoy a speedier makeover of a room or two.
These zero consumers don’t have to be thought of negatively. Success is just a matter of calculating how you can best meet their needs.

Design Business Blueprint with Yudi Kaufman

Welcome to “Design Business Blueprint” – the monthly column that will reshape the way you envision the future of your interior design business. In these turbulent times, where the design industry landscape can change overnight and uncertainty looms, the need to focus on business strategy and growth has never been more pressing. Let’s delve into why business development is paramount for designers and creatives, regardless of the current industry trends or global circumstances.

Building a successful design firm with Kate FitzGerald-Wilks

Fast forward 9 years and now she is the one offering the tips and tricks. We ran into one another at High Point Market and she caught me up about the current state of her booming business. Click play on the video below to watch our conversation to learn how Timeless by Kate Fitzgerald-Wilks developed into the successful firm it is today

Can retailers survive a rise in DTC brands?

Online shopping and cheaper, faster shipping options have facilitated the rise of DTC brands, and with online shopping continuing to grow, it makes sense that DTC would grow, too.

How does design taste differ geographically? Watch the panel from Universal Furniture

Universal Furniture hosted a Learning Lab series of panel discussions in their showroom. Decor News Now Editor-in-Chief, Courtney Porter moderates “Discover the Art of Design: Big Cities vs. Small Towns,” with Marta Mitchell of Marta Mitchell Interior Design Group, Robert Ventolo of Crain + Ventolo, and Christian Daw of Christian Daw Design. The discussion includes the dynamic relationship between location and design style, wants and needs; and the unique design needs and styles of urban and rural clients.