It’s back to school, we thought it was the right time to take stock of the state of the furniture market in France. How is it doing? What are its obstacles and stepping stones?
The furniture market being highly volatile, 2018 was a good year even if it “marked a significant drop in sales, with -5.2% for furniture” (source: Toute la Franchise). Even if decoration is attracting more and more French people – annual growth for the sector is between 3 and 5% on average – we must remain cautious even though 2019 looks promising.
According to FNAEM , the trend is towards recovery in 2019. The market continued to grow in May and recorded a 10.4% increase in sales. April was up 9.5%, so the market posted a strong performance at +9.9% for these two months. Year-to-date sales were up 4.8% for the first five months of the year.
Another trend that stands out is used second-hand furniture, which is taking up more and more space in today’s landscape. A recent survey indicates that 30% of respondents agree with the statement “I consume less and finally I am not worse off ” compared to 24% 10 years ago*.
Freins et tremplins
Admittedly, we can always fear a worse second half of the year or a mediocre 2020. The obstacles that can be identified, and which sometimes put the sector at risk, are, among others, the decline in real estate sales, which are still closely linked to the furniture market. Dominique Weber, former president of the furniture federation, stated in February 2018: “One piece of furniture out of three is purchased by a household during the 24 months following their move“(source Europe 1**). There is also too much competition on certain axes or the transformation of expectations and consumption patterns. But since 2019 seems to be off to a good start, let’s focus on the market’s springboards instead!
Despite the difficulties, this same transformation encourages and forces the actors to renew themselves. It gives a dynamic and invites brands not to rely on certain achievements. The transformation in question is very much linked to the integration of digital. And who doesn’t bend over can sometimes stay on the sidelines. However, with the collection of data, digital technology allows an opening to the exponential market. It is now much easier to gather information about your consumers to better target them and meet their expectations.
The call for transparency, with the evolution of brand-consumer relations, can also be widely used as a way to take off. Transparency requires, in part, a better communication on social networks. It is the space where actors can share a piece of daily life in the office, information on the manufacture of products, create a privileged contact with their customers. A lot of things that DNVB – Digital Native Vertical Brands – have understood and that can be a good source of inspiration. See our blog article on the subject.
They surf on the (good) waves
Many brands are evolving, changing their habits and learning to adapt to this new situation. But they do not have a monopoly on change. Federations, business groups, dedicated exhibitions adopt new practices, raise awareness through workshops and meetings, and also adapt their themes.
The French Furniture Association (AMF)
For example, let’s take the French Furniture Association (AMF) which organizes annual theme days aimed at bringing in experts to help manufacturers take ownership of and respond to new market challenges. We talked to you about transparency earlier and we make the link here with the eco-responsible measures put in place and the AMF’s new contract aimed at reaching one million tonnes of recycled products. Today, the “green conscience” affects 52% of people compared to 30% in 2001, according to Marilyne Nguyen, Sociovision’s consulting director*. Another topic discussed last June at the AMF was societal change. Christophe Sampels, President of Immaterra, explains “that today we no longer need to sell a product, but an integrated solution, i.e. a mix of products and services, where service, in other words the intangible – plays an essential role in improving the conditions for efficiency” *. That’s all said and done!
The trade fairs are not to be outdone and are also meeting new challenges. The theme of the September edition of Maison & Objet? “Work!”. This is in line with the trend of so-called “hybrid” products, which lend themselves as well to new work situations […] as to the uses of daily life […].*” Let us also mention Esprit Meuble, which will present a revised formula in early December. The show is opening up more: to the general public to reach more press outlets, internationally and on a contract basis as Maison & Objet. After a survey conducted among some exhibitors at the show, it appears that between 5 and 30% of their turnover is generated with the world of fittings / projects *. Enough to hope for a growing number of visitors for this edition, at which you can also meet the INNERSENSE team 😉 !
* Source : Le Courrier du Meuble et de l’habitat – 12 juillet 2019