Professor Roger Beahm discusses consumer buying behavior in furniture industry

6.8.2021 Article, Center for Retail Innovation, Faculty News

Originally posted by the Winston-Salem Journal| By Richard Craver

Like virtually every other major retail category, the pandemic drove consumers who wanted and needed products to alter their buying behavior, said Roger Beahm, director of the retail learning labs at the Wake Forest University Center for Analytics Impact.

“When the path-to-purchase through traditional brick-and-mortar started constricting, and even shutting down in some categories, need superseded want and e-commerce ramped up to keep that path open.

“From the need to repurpose rooms to redecorating for freshness and modernization, and even just fun during a pandemic, these factors pushed shoppers further into the online shopping and buying mode, particularly among market segments that reflect a younger demographic,” Beahm said.

For older consumers where the furniture brand is the biggest purchasing factor, “these shoppers will use digital alternatives to brick-and-mortar picked up during the pandemic, but only when it’s not convenient to trust and verify.”

“The pandemic also drove a significant number of consumers back to brands with strong tradition/history and solid brand equity.

“That’s why brands that had been around for years and were in long-term decline experienced a sudden resurgence … and have enjoyed surprisingly strong performance since March 2020,” Beahm said.

Beahm said that “many consumers still like reality over the virtual when it comes to a sizable purchase commitment.”

“It’s one thing to try a new or alternate brand of paper towel when you order online. It’s another to buy a sofa that must look good and feel good upon delivery.”

Beahm said that when it comes to high-end wooden furniture, “this trust-but-verify technique of shopping for furniture is one that a sizable segment of the population will still likely take advantage of as the pandemic wanes.”

“For some higher-priced durable goods, it’s not worth the risk.”

Read more at the Winston-Salem Journal.