And thinking growth in the midst of uncertainty – As seen on Home News Now.
Within the home furnishings space there are a lot of things out of our control right now that feel threatening to our foundation, but business has still been booming. Although it’s scary, it is time to start thinking about how we make the trend lines of the last 20 months into our new standard measurement of success.
Let’s look outside of our industry for some guidance on how we chart our path forward.
The year is 2008. The bottom has fallen out relative to our financial institutions and the government just bailed out the U.S. automotive industry. Disposable income was drying up and those that could spend were fearful of spending. Looking at the reality of the situation and the uncertainty in play, why would anyone consider a brand new, untested car design when the popular version of the auto industry was on life support? The car manufacturer that came out of that abyss with the launch of its first-generation Roadster was Tesla; it now has the largest market cap in the world.
What did they identify that the “circumstances” didn’t show? They identified three unique things:
- Something only gets bailed out because the consumer dynamic was shifting to where those businesses were not growing with the consumer. Foreign car producers, meanwhile, were producing the look and tech consumers coveted. (That is, until Tesla’s Roadster came along.)
- The concept of “traditional” ways of doing things had just gotten extinguished. The dependence on oil had already been disrupted in our country’s relations with the Middle East due to the effects of 9/11 and the war in Iraq. Combine that with the generational shift and the rise in new media giving this next generation a stronger voice. Some of the kids from the late 80’s/early 90’s were becoming millionaires in connected social spheres (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube), and the belief in renewable energy was becoming more front and center due to their ownership of the platforms.
- The development of the iPhone followed by the iPad brought the “cool tech” the user had only seen in sci-fi into their own hands. An expectation long term that this would be in our everyday lives was imminent.
Let’s take this approach and look through the lens of our current status as an industry and why this can be our boom.
- The governing of a pandemic forced everyone into their homes. Did that help content curators like Netflix and Disney+ in their digital space initially? Yes it did. However, that content digestion requires places to sit, lay and occupy to consume. The function of furniture moved front and center.
- Zoom rooms replaced conference rooms. Google Hangouts replaced happy hours. The cubicle became the kitchen table or island. The traditional “hardwire” things the consuming public had to do outside of the home moved inside it. With that move became even more dependence on furniture.
- Dependence on routine material things like coffee from Starbucks or the accidental three-figure purchase at Target evaporated overnight. A generation defined by consumption couldn’t consume at will, and yet, the amount of liquidity they had increased. They could afford the type of goods (and margin dollars) we wanted to sell.
Ford, GM and Chrysler weren’t looking through the same lens as Tesla. They were worried about the here and now of maintaining “order” and as a result, they lost relevancy along with market potential.
So how does this apply to us? There is a Tesla lurking from the outside looking at the opportunities that are happening within our industry. They are building the capital and disruption tactics to ice us away. The time to grow and capitalize on these efforts is here and right now.
Yes, freight charges are through the roof. Price surcharges are hitting us six to nine months later. But the foundational truths that have occurred since March 2020 have not changed. Now is the time to market and cater to the consumer that we have the thing she needs.
Facebook just decided to move towards focusing on creating social environments through virtual reality. Be as pessimistic or frustrated with that concept as you want, but it involves one thing that can’t be replaced: the home.
We furnish the home. Let’s double down and get into more of them before someone else gets there first.