kbb Birmingham 2022: ‘Customers’ needs are evolving all the time’, says Häfele

Natalie Davenport, head of marketing, Häfele UK 

Q: How do you view the current health of the UK KBB market? 

A: Customers’ needs and lifestyles are evolving all the time. The past two years in particular saw a massive shift in how we use our homes, with people working remotely and using their kitchens and other living spaces in a totally different way for the first time ever. This saw a surge in the sale of products that make a home more flexible.

As the world normalises following the pandemic, this will continue to be key to the industry, but we must also consider wider, macro trends. For example, multigenerational living and accessible homes will increase in demand. As an industry, there is more we can all do to understand the needs of more people, today and into the future, and there is an opportunity to work together to create the best possible homes for people with all types
of requirements. 

Q: How’s business at the moment? 

A: Despite last year’s challenges, there is optimism in the market. There are lots of opportunities in the home-improvement sector, so we’ve been working hard to support customers to ensure they can achieve a competitive advantage – whether that be through our products, or the value services we’ve put in place to make kitchen design and installation a more efficient process. As a result, we’ve seen major growth in some of our leading product categories. In 2021, sales of lighting increased by 20%, our already best-selling AluSplash range saw an increase in sales of 11%, and there was a 37% growth in sales of our drawers collection.

Q: What are the main challenges for kitchen design? 

A: When it comes to designing dream kitchens, it’s often the case that certain features on consumers’ wish lists will end up being cut as their budget depletes, but functionality shouldn’t be compromised to meet a certain price point. 

As part of our latest research, we’ve sought to understand how kitchens really impact people’s day-to-day lives, from how practically they can use the space, to how flexible it is, and how it can even impact their mood and well-being. By understanding these pain points, we can advise our own customers on how to help their customers avoid cutting features that will help to maximise the functionality of the space and in turn win more business.

Q: How do you keep your strong relationships with your retailers? 

A: Häfele has always been strong in its partnership approach, particularly in relation to our Studio Partners, and this collaborative approach is always expanding. We’ve invested in digital tools like our Kitchen Planner and services such as the Lighting Design Service and Häfele to Order to relieve some of the day-to-day pressure our customers face, which ensures they can maximise commercial opportunities while also providing their customers with the best possible designs for their homes. 

Q: If you were opening a retail showroom in this market, what would your strategy be? 

A: People typically want to buy what they can see. However, our strategy is always to think about the elements you can’t see, too. By installing practical lighting, using clever storage techniques, and maximising typically unused spaces for alternative purposes, retailers can use their showrooms to demonstrate that the possibilities of kitchen design are endless, and that kitchens are about so much more than look and feel. From our research, we know that creating a space using the right balance of looks and functionality will not only win a showroom business over its competition, but also deliver increased future business through the holy grail – word of mouth. 

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