‘Understand customer needs’ to boost sales, says Methven CEO

In the aftermath of a pandemic that has changed consumer buying habits, Methven chief executive Martin Walker says retailers must understand their target audience and focus on their needs.

Speaking exclusively to kbbreview, Walker had this message for retailers: “It is crucial to understand your target customers and focus on delivering to their needs. Consumers will always choose high-quality, aesthetically pleasing solutions that are based on form and function. However, they are now becoming more compartmentalised and require solutions that are tailored to their individual requirements.”

Walker went on to highlight key trends he believed would be important in 2021 and beyond. He told kbbreview: “These may include factors such as aged care and inclusive or multigenerational living, which require adaptable solutions for each individual, without compromising on performance. Depending on the demographic of the consumer, they will also have differing purchasing motivations.

“For example, Generation Y [millennials] are becoming early adopters of smart/connected technologies throughout every room in the house, while Generation X [born 1965-80] focuses on the sustainability of a product as a key decision factor.”

Walker also spoke of the effects Covid-19 and other factors on the KBB market: “The challenges presented by Brexit, Covid-19 and the UK recession will no doubt have a negative impact on the sector throughout 2021, particularly in relation to the new housing market.”

But he also saw reasons for positivity going forward. He added: “There are some positives for this New Year, with the renovation market in particular continuing to stay strong. This is due to many consumers accumulating additional savings throughout 2020 as a result of the Covid-19 restrictions, which saw the cancellation of the majority of holidays and events. For a large proportion of homeowners, they have decided to invest this money back into their homes.”

Looking ahead through 2021 and beyond, he identified what he saw as the key challenges: “The main challenge will be cost-related. It is highly likely that Brexit will increase the complexity of the sector, while driving up costs due to the significant rise in the value of raw materials. The consequence will be increased pressure on industry investment in marketing and new product development.

“The second challenge that the industry may potentially face due to Brexit is the ever-widening skills gap within the construction sector, with the number of apprentices entering the industry slowing down tremendously.”

Walker also identified what he believes will be areas of the growth n the marketplace. He added: “Water efficiency remains a key priority for both the industry and its consumers. End users require sustainable products, but not at the expense of the experience, so it is crucial that there is continued investment within this area.

“There will also be increased requirements for products that promote relaxation to aid individuals’ health and well-being. Within the commercial sector, touchless products will also become more relevant throughout the buying stages, particularly for high-traffic public areas.”

Walker concluded: “As 2021 hopefully brings a more positive outlook with regard to the pandemic, we will be able to refocus and return more of our efforts to understanding what our customers need and want. This includes the continued development of our water-saving products that do not compromise on the overall showering experience, while also being compliant with future regulations.”

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