I recently spoke at the Hangzhou Lifestyle Conference in China. One of the other speakers was Kevin Castllani, Publishing Director of Furniture Today, the USA trade magazine. He presented some interesting data on the lifestyle furnishing industry which I thought some of you may be interested in. According to the US Customer Service International Trade Commission Casual Living Market Research the industry imports to the USA are as follows: 2009 Minus 16% $1993 Import Business 2008 Plus 2% $2383 Import Business 2007 Minus 1% $2302 Import Business 2006 Plus `10% $2337 Import Business 2005 $2116 Import business 84% of the business is done with China with metal furniture making up 56% and rubber plastic 19%. The American outdoor furniture market is worth $7.67 billion with grills making up 57% and dining sets 28% The fastest growth is coming from ‘conversation group’ furniture which is at present 7% of the market. The ‘home resort’ is a growth zone with 79% of consumers wanting an outdoor resort setting, (3% have no interest). This market includes lighting, outdoor rugs, fans, spa and furniture. According to the research the consumer gets ideas for this category as follows: 82% TV Programs 70% Magazines 65% Internet 58% Mass Merchandiser 50% Local Garden Centre 33% Specialist stores 26% Family The average buyer visits three stores before purchasing. Those stores are in order of their priority as follows: Home Improvement Store Discount Department Store Specialist Furniture stores When repurchasing consumers are prepared to pay more for the following reasons: 75% More comfort 73% ease of maintenance 72% Cushions are stain and fade resistant 58% style 55% Chairs are cushioned 1 % for a specific brand Consumers tend to buy a new brand at every purchase. When asked what they look for when re-buying the following replies were received; 33% More Comfort 27% Better quality 26% Different material 26% Easier to clean 19% Co-ordinated pieces 13% Spending more on a dining set The key influencer for 52% of consumers is low price. For ‘conversation furniture’ the main price bracket for consumers is $1000 to $2000 with 23% buying in this price range. Whilst with dining sets 30% are buying between $400 and $599, what retailers call the “Sweet Spot”. The average American buys new lifestyle furniture every 7 to 10 years.