The big 4: Consumers’ priorities when choosing furnishings

Consumers consider many factors when choosing furniture, but our exclusive Consumer Insights Now research indicates that manufacturers and retailers who focus on four key factors can earn their business: quality, durability, design/style and color.

The extensive survey, done in conjunction with our sister publications Home News Now and Casual News Now, asked consumers who were planning to buy home furnishings in the second half of 2022 about their shopping habits, buying process, product preferences and more.

When asked “What’s important to you when buying a sofa?” the majority of respondents listed those four factors as key to driving their purchasing decisions, and that’s the case across five regional breakdowns of results, which we’re releasing week by week. (A sofa, by the way, tops consumers’ shopping lists, according to the research.)

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For instance, in this week’s regional report on what’s called the East and West South-Central regions (Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee,  Texas), 77% of consumers said a sofa’s quality is most important to them, followed by durability (76%), “style/design I like” (69%) and “colors I like” (63%).

Survey respondents noted more than a dozen factors they consider when buying sofas — from easy-to-clean fabrics and storage features to product warranties and trusted brands. But those four — quality, durability, design/style and color — were cited by between half and three-quarters of consumers, outpacing all other factors across the United States.

The same is true for other furniture. The survey also asked consumers, “What’s important to you when buying master bedroom/dining/office furniture?”

This week’s regional breakdown of results from the Southern states is illustrative here, too. Seventy-seven percent cited quality as most important, followed by durability (71%), style/design (62%) and color (55%.) Again, such answers were relatively consistent across the country.

They can’t always get what they want

But consumers aren’t always finding pieces that meet their priority criteria — and they are frustrated by that.

Asked how the furniture buying experience could be improved, one consumer in the South said they wanted more “options to customize fabric, color and style.” A consumer in the Northeast expressed similar a similar concern: “There’s not a big variety of colors available. Most stores sell very drab pieces.”

A consumer in the West expressed annoyance at trying to gauge furniture quality: “It can be hard to know how good the quality of some items is even when there are reviews.”

And some consumers were even more blunt: “Start making more solid wood furniture. Not this fake crap you see everywhere now,” a respondent in the South said.

There are plenty of other insights in our exclusive research. You can read the full national results here, and the full regional breakdowns from the East and West South-Central regions here, the South Atlantic here and the Northeast here. On Oct. 10, we’ll bring you results from the Midwest.

About the survey: Consumer Insights Now surveyed 1,993 U.S. consumers from July 11-13, 2022. All respondents planned to purchase one or more home furnishings products between July and December 2022, and all were either the primary or joint purchase decision-maker. The sample includes a mix of females and males, ages 18 to 74, and includes a representative mix of ages, ethnicities, household incomes and homeowners/renters. National results were released Sept. 12. Results from five regional breakdowns are being released weekly. Dana French, who has more than 20 years of home furnishings and consumer research experience, leads Consumer Insights Now project, which is sponsored by ChargeAfter and Genesis Credit.

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