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With remodeling activity expected to stall in the first three quarters of 2020, it’s time for showrooms to get creative about how they bring in new and existing clients.
The remodeling industry downturn is related to weak sales for existing homes and less new building. That kind of shift in the housing market filters down not only to contractors but to designers, architects and suppliers.
For showrooms in the decorative plumbing market, this means fewer clients coming in for new faucets, toilets, water heaters and the other elements that keep local showrooms going strong.
To keep people coming in, what do you need? A showroom that welcomes everyone, no matter what their age, physical needs, income or taste.
With clients of all ages and backgrounds, you need to find ways to attract people to your showroom and make them feel comfortable once they are inside. Dividing the showroom into four distinct areas to cater to the major generations of spenders — baby boomers, Gen Xers, millennials and Gen Z — probably isn’t a good idea!
Universal design attracts, so an excellent place to start is to make the environment inclusive for everyone, regardless of age or demographic. Start with the generation with most restrictions and make it work for them. You can do this with style. You’ll be amazed how an open floor plan, color, quality displays, fun vignettes and the right signage can tempt shoppers in all age groups.
When these principles are well-integrated and subtle, everyone feels invited and included.
Space is a critical element as there are people across all walks of life who may have mobility issues. For a person in a wheelchair, a parent with a stroller, families wiåth young children or people with electric scooters, small pathways crammed with merchandise are uninviting.
Even podiums, which are standard in showrooms with larger decorative plumbing items, need to be well spaced and placed. An open floor plan also is appreciated for those hard of hearing or with visual impairments, as it will allow them to navigate more easily.
Wider aisles also allow for better lighting, which helps clients navigate and keeps the spotlight on the products.
As exciting as color can be, neutral colors are a great bet. Millennials and Gen Z love pops of color, mostly because it provides a great backdrop for social media posts, but they prefer trendy colors that may not be so stylish in a year. On the other hand, the typical spa-like tones favored by older generations may seem dated to younger shoppers.
Neutral colors such as white, grey and black ensure that displays act as a support and products are the stars of the showroom. Simple but good-quality materials will be the clearest communicator across the generations. They will send a message of stability and trustworthiness to your clients.
Having neutral-toned displays in unpretentious materials helps a showroom avoid the pitfalls of trend-chasing, which can put off clients who are looking for a reliable, knowledgeable place to shop when renovating. This is true no matter what the age of the client is.
Regardless of what colors or materials you use, think of contrast. It will help products stand out, but also make display fixtures such as podiums easier to see. Putting a grey podium or display on a grey floor, for example, can cause accidents.
Get Specific with Vignettes
Now, where you can get a little more generation-specific is with your vignettes. When a person doesn’t like a style, she moves onto one reflecting her tastes, budgets and preferences.
You can get playful with vignettes — introduce some exciting colors, graphics and products from different price ranges.
People have powerful connections with certain styles. When you’re dealing with more than 50 years of trends, the overall showroom should be quite neutral, with styles introduced in vignettes. Use technology and even magazines to help illustrate design ideas.
Use signs to your advantage. They are still relevant to shoppers and valuable tools for a showroom. Instead of basic signage that simply indicates the name and price of an item, incorporating informational signage might be a more effective approach. Signs could include in-store product recommendations, use-case examples and call-to-action messaging.
Instead of aiming to grab attention, informational signage will drive product interactions.
We’re lucky these days with the number of affordable technology options, so the showroom floor doesn’t need to be cluttered with actual signs. Research has shown that people from boomers to Gen Z are used to technology in their lives, so use items such as tablets and screens to share information.
Convenience and Comfort
Selling decorative plumbing items, appliances and heavier-duty home renovation is obviously the priority for a showroom. However, most showroom managers understand that a more diverse product offering makes clients more excited and helps them complete their projects in one place. It also complements the items you are focused on selling.
Consider selling small plumbing items such as faucets and hardware as decorative items, promoting them as a way to refresh a kitchen and bathroom space without going through a whole renovation.
No matter what, a showroom must be comfortable. Often, trips related to home improvement are stressful because it usually means a lot of money is about to be laid out. When a space is comfortable — spacious, well-lit, with friendly staff — people will be more likely to stay and feel better about the investment they’re about to make.
When a showroom feels warm and like home, customers will remember what brought them in — their own homes — and want to keep that feeling going.