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The National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA), the North American authority on all things residential kitchen and bath, held its second annual NKBA Global Connect Business Summit, Sept. 9 and 10. Originally scheduled to take place in London, the summit was broadcast virtually to international attendees — from Germany to Guatemala — over two afternoons. The NKBA Global Connect Summit has become a key element in connecting the international kitchen and bath market, bringing brands and information together to develop successful, omnidirectional business strategies to grow the kitchen and bath industry worldwide.
"While I would have liked nothing more than to host our second annual NKBA Global Connect Business Summit in London this past week, I'm pleased that so many of our friends and colleagues were able to join us for our first virtual Summit," said Suzie Williford, EVP and chief strategy officer of NKBA. "The opportunity to share critical insights and information — especially during this extraordinary time — is very important to us and our industry. We invest a tremendous amount of time, talent and financial resources to stay on top of all that's happening in and around residential kitchens and baths. Sharing that knowledge, as well as connecting the marketplace, is very rewarding."
The Program — Day 1
Market Outlook, KBMI, Geographic and Demographic Trends and Lifestyle/Life Stage Research
Bill Darcy, CEO of NKBA, and Todd Tomalak, VP and principal at John Burns Real Estate Consulting, took a deep dive into the 2020 remodeling market with a focus on the kitchen and bath sector. Despite the impact of COVID-19, the residential remodeling sector — especially kitchen and bath spaces — is projected to be "white hot" strong this fall. Of the $130 billion expected in 2020 K&B sales, 46 percent, or just over $60 billion, is attributable to kitchens with the remaining 54 percent, or about $70 billion, coming from bathroom expenditures.
North America is a Big Place — Geographic and Demographic Overview
Chris Porter, SVP and chief demographer for John Burns Real Estate Consulting, and Steve Basten, senior manager at JBREC, shared insights about the shifts in demographic and geographic trends in North America, pointing out significant migrations from urban "A" markets like New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, to secondary areas like the "Inland Empire in SoCal," Santa Rosa in Northern California, and Central Florida and the Panhandle. They elaborated on the regional differences of each of these markets, reinforcing the need to understand the nuances that drive product design, distribution and pricing approaches, reminding viewers that North America is very large indeed.
NKBA Lifestyle/Life Stage Research
The NKBA Lifestyle/Life Stage Study was presented by Kerrie Kelly, principal of Kerrie Kelly Design Lab and a collaborator on the study, revealing a new, forward-looking approach to gathering insights. The study queried designers, consumers and showrooms, with an eye to understanding lifestyle shifts and attitudes regarding their homes, concentrating on kitchen and bath remodeling and design over the next three years. Four key influencing themes emerged: Simplified Living, Connected Living, Living in Place and Healthy Living. Kelly discussed each theme in detail, further identifying specific wants around each, offering insights for product development and design, as well as interior and space design.
The Program — Day 2
Go to Market Strategies — Understanding Distribution and Sales Options
Williford hosted Greg Rohl, principal of the Rohl Model, and Jason Artus, partner DoveTail Sales, for a discussion on "Go to Market" strategies, detailing the many distribution and sales scenarios one might consider when entering the North American kitchen and bath market. The pros and cons of working with independent sales agents vs. company or factory representatives, as well as taking a hybrid approach, were unpacked. A review of various distribution models was also discussed, including the benefits of two-step distribution when a tiered approach to servicing a large market is necessary, as well as when it makes sense to consider a master distribution partner who can service and support large and small customers as a domestic brand agent. The panel explored the role of showrooms and their expectations from manufacturers, sales representatives and distribution partners, emphasizing the importance of building trustworthy, profitable and personal relationships, and reinforcing the need to consider multiple approaches to build a successful business in North America.
Marketing to the Kitchen and Bath Customer
DJ Carey, editorial director of Cottages & Gardens Media, and Debi Hammond, principal of Merlot Marketing, sat down with Sherry Qualls, president of White Good Marketing and PR, to discuss how to approach marketing to the kitchen and bath customer. They evaluated influencer programs, channel and showroom programs, trade shows, events and media partnerships, with an emphasis on building fully integrated programs that target key decision-makers. The panel underscored the need to understand different messaging approaches — depending on customer group — as well as determining where to target resources.
Understanding the Design Influencer
Veronika Miller, CEO of Modenus Media, moderated a discussion with Jeremy Parcels, AKBD, kitchen and bath designer at Christopher's Kitchens, Cheminne Taylor-Smith, CEO of www.cheminne.com, Laura Mueller, owner and principal of Four Points Design Build, to define the differences between design build firms, kitchen and bath and interior designers. Speaking about their various areas of expertise, they clarified the importance of the various designer roles and how they operate, independently as well as collaboratively. They emphasized the value of understanding how to engage design professionals, including leveraging social media, events and trade shows, as well as taking the time to meet with designers, even if they are not purchasing products directly, so they can knowledgeably present products and systems with confidence. Developing a trusting relationship with design professionals will be annuity for years to come.
How to KBIS — Maximizing Participation in North America's Largest Kitchen and Bath Show
Amy Hornby, show director of the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show, Kent Panther, VP and business development director at Wray-Ward, and Veronika Miller, CEO of Modenus Media, shared the various ways brands can learn, engage and exhibit at KBIS. For individuals who have never been to the event, a guided tour or visit hosted by show management is a great way to get an overview. Participation in a delegation or curated group is another. For international brands, one of the best ways to experience exhibiting for the first time is to be a part of a pavilion, typically produced by one's home country. Once a brand has had two or three opportunities to truly learn the show, exhibiting may be a logical next step. Panther, Miller and Hornby elaborated on the many opportunities to maximize presence and engagement, including sponsored and gratis packages, ensuring a strong ROI.
All participants not already NKBA Global Connect Subscribers were invited to learn more about the many benefits of participation in the program. Designed specifically to help international brands navigate the vast North American kitchen and bath market, the subscription program provides exclusive access to advisors, proprietary NKBA market research, market insights, VIP events and programs all designed to assist in building a successful North American kitchen and bath business. NKBA Global Connect Subscription benefits and details may be found at www.nkba.org/globalconnect.