Anecdotal evidence of the market returning is looking very positive, and keeping positive attitude is as important as any other part of your business. In the second of our opinions on what the ‘new normal’ means for the kbb sector, we hear from Steph Harris, product manager for Showerwall
As the economy energises, lockdown loosens and we all cope with living with the coronavirus, we are transitioning into the new way of doing business like so many companies across the industry.
It feels like embarking into a brave new world, with that mix of hope, excitement and trepidation of what we might find round the next corner, but we are already very encouraged by a strong start on this journey.
Showerwall production was halted for eight weeks while we protected the health and wellbeing of our colleagues but our strong distribution network has maintained healthy stock levels and, as such, we have no issues regarding availability or production backlog. In turn, we are now seeing positive early results and have hit the ground running.
There has been a lot of conjecture about whether consumers will direct their spending on home renovation and our trading figures, coupled with talking to retailers and installers, would seem to suggest they are. While those who feel secure enough financially and emotionally to go on holiday will do so, there are many who are preferring to spend on their home.
Psychologists will tell you that in a chaotic world, the comfort of home takes on renewed meaning for providing safety, nurture and nostalgia. And of course, there are those consumers who have just got plain fed up with how their house is looking after weeks of what the CBI refers to as ‘the great home-working experiment’.
We have already received positive feedback from retailers about consumer attitudes and buying behaviour. Appointment only consultations, whether in store or via video call, are working very well and consumers are treating the calls with serious intent to purchase rather than a fishing expedition.
The psychology has changed and, in general, consumers are expressing willingness to spend more than they might have as they see the bathroom as a place to relax and restore themselves away from an unsettled world.
Doesn’t KBB seem a long time ago? As always, it’s an important event for us, timed as the launch platform of new products – in this case 26 new designs shaped around key bathroom trends.
It may have been expected that all the positivity shown to the brand would be lost and that it could be hard to kickstart the momentum of rolling out the new POS packages that we had invested in and retailers had signed up for. But we have found this not to be the case.
In the first week of opening, we had retailers requesting sample updates, complete display stands and panels of the new designs for room-set refurbishments so they could show customers new ideas and inspiration when they come through the door. There’s been particular interest in the terrazzo’s, marbles and colourful digital prints in geometrics, subway tiles and flamboyant wallpaper-style patterns with flamingos and flowers. The latter have been especially popular, perhaps reflecting the mood to bring a new cheer and interest to our homes.
All activity has resumed, with complete POS stands and sample upgrade packages scheduled for safe delivery nationwide in accordance with COVID safety guidelines.
Analytics across our social media channels of Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube show increased levels of interest and we are sending out 40% more samples than usual. The majority of the requests are for the new designs, another indicator that KBB worked for us.
Doing business is going to be a balancing act for everyone for some time to come but we have been truly heartened by the ‘can-do’ attitude from retailers to getting their businesses up and running.
We are very encouraged by what we are seeing and hearing from our retailers and installers and I hope that our experience so far will be shared by others across the kitchen and bathroom industry.