Understanding the purchasing decision process of your customers is imperative in today’s competitive market. Customer profiling has been used in the fashion industry for over 3 decades and has been a driving tool in establishing market share. Knowing and determining what are or what can be the factors which act in influencing your customers’ purchasing decisions is extremely useful to your marketing strategy and the profitability of your business.
In a customer driven market place, the shopping experience is an immersive one, where products are linked with life style and the experience aims to forge close personal relationship with customers.
Has the furniture manufacturing industry caught up with these trends? Or does it still rely on outdated beliefs such as published in Industry articles in early 2000s that there is still a real industry need to acknowledge that the main decision maker when purchasing furniture is invariably ‘the lady of the house’ 
One would hope that we have moved on from such stereotypical assumptions to a broader, more educated view on the contemporary furniture consumer in Australia, and around the world.
Extensive market research and customer profile reveal a more detailed picture of the target audience, based on geographical areas, gender, income brackets and age, brand affinities, demographics and professional and social graphs. So how well does the furniture industry know it’s customers?
While not purchased with great frequency, furniture is viewed as central to one’s self-concept; therefore, item selection is seen as a very important decision. Furniture is an emotional purchase for many people because it facilitates sharing and a sense of togetherness among friends and family in the home.
Quality ranks as the most important evaluative criterion when furniture is being considered for purchase. In general, furniture made in Australia is a stronger criterion than environmentally-friendly furniture, but this is not the case for members of Generation Y. Brand and store loyalty are not experienced by most furniture consumers in this category. They like to search for information and conduct research online, and are increasingly more willing to purchase furniture online (even more so over the past five years).
Social media also plays a role in searching for information about furniture. Online platforms such as Pinterest expands the consumer’s choice and has become the greatest digital disruption for furniture manufacturers and retailers.
We can only influence consumer buying behaviour if we understand the consumer, the factors that drive their decision making when buying products, including furniture. Today’s customer is far more sophisticated than ‘the lady of the house’ who wants the same dining table as her neighbour’s. Today’s furniture buyer has a world of information at their “clicking fingertips” and he/she is not afraid to use it.
So my question to all Australian Furniture manufacturers is: How well do you know your customer? and what will he or she find about your product, that will gain their consumer trust?
by Simona Jobbagy - Director, Design, Media and ICT Programs- Swinburne University.