The traditional business of interior design has been disrupted by a rapidly growing range of competitors out to steal market share from designers’ elite clientele. The most recent ASID Interior Design Outlook and State of the Industry report tellingly reveals the current harsh reality of the interior design industry. While the number of designers and design firms is rising, the actual revenues accrued to the industry remains flat at $9.1 billion. That means only one thing: Interior designers are facing an increasingly competitive market.
Designers must fight back against the competitive onslaught with more effective marketing strategies. This new book, Marketing the Luxury of Interior Design, will show designers how.
More retailers are moving upscale with increasingly sophisticated design resources (RH, Crate & Barrel). Others are offering complimentary design services (Ethan Allen, Pottery Barn, West Elm) and emerging internet-age etailers and design services (Wayfair.com, Havenly.com) offer the promise of ‘internet-easy, internet-fast’ design solutions. What these competitors share is expert marketing.
Complicating matters further for designers, consumers are increasingly taking a do-it-yourself approach to home design and decorating challenges, empowered by HGTV and other sources of information that portray a oversimplified and unrealistic picture of home improvement projects.
Pamela N. Danziger, president of Unity Marketing and an authority on the luxury market, has written a guide for interior designers to combat these disruptive influences with powerful marketing. With a foreword by Cary Kravet, President and CEO of Kravet Inc., a leader in to-the-trade design resources, Marketing the Luxury of Interior Design, it gives designers the most up-to-date tools of luxury marketing to help them super-charge their marketing and branding strategies.
To win in this new marketplace, designers must be exceptional marketers, as well as exceptional designers.
“Designers dedicated to providing customized, professional interior design services need new marketing strategies to succeed in today’s competitive, rapidly changing and complex market,” Danziger says. “To win in this new marketplace, designers must be exceptional marketers, as well as exceptional designers.”
The opportunities & challenges of marketing interior design services
The best potential interior designer customers are the affluent with high incomes and discretion to spend. To succeed in marketing their services, designers need to understand the motivations that drive the affluent customers in their purchases. This is where luxury marketing strategies come into play, because interior design services are first and foremost a luxury purchase.
Luxury consumers today have a much wider range of home products to buy and places in which to buy them than they did a mere two years ago, not to mention five or ten. And many of these new competitors are offering interior design services, positioned to compete against independent professional designers, in order to attract a more discerning and affluent customer.
On the plus side, the market opportunities for professional interior designers are huge. Unity Marketing’s research reveals that at any one time between 40-50% of affluent consumers are currently engaged or planning a major home improvement project. “That represents a great potential market for interior designers who can assist and support these affluent customers select the right furnishings to improve their home environment, enhance their lifestyles, and increase the home’s investment value,” Danziger explains.
But designers are challenged to make the value of their services clear to target consumers. “This is where interior designers are failing,” Danziger says. “And that is the power of marketing.” UM’s research shows that less than one-third of those engaged in such projects used the services of an interior designer. What’s more, among those luxury consumers who used the services of an interior designer, a significant share (43%) turned to a designer provided by a retailer for advice, rather than to an independent professional.
This is a sobering finding, as it indicates independent professionals are losing the marketing battle against retail competitors offering the illusion of professional design support at no added cost, though these ‘designers’ are often sales people masquerading as professional designers.
Interior designers must align their marketing to the opportunity
Some ideas from Marketing the Luxury of Interior Design to help interior designers attract their ideal target clients:
1) Educate clients on the difference between ‘design’ and ‘decorating’ — Certainly creating beautiful, stylish rooms is a value that interior designers offer, but even more important than having an eye for style, interior designers bring a science to creating functional living spaces that enhance the clients’ personal lifestyles. As the Council for Interior Design Qualification (CIDQ) explains:
“Interior design is the art and science of understanding people’s behavior to create functional spaces within a building. Decoration is the furnishing or adorning of a space with fashionable or beautiful things. In short, interior designers may decorate, but decorators do not design.”
When marketing their services, designers must educate clients as to the important differences between ‘design’ and mere ‘decorating,’ and the added-value a designer brings beyond making the home look good to making it a home that lives good too.
This book, Marketing the Luxury of Interior Design, will show how to position custom design services in a meaningful way for the best potential clients.
2) Sell designers’ expertise in selecting and combining choices from a confusing plethora of options — Consumers today have no lack of product options. Quite the contrary, they are overwhelmed with an excess of choices, creating consumer confusion and frustration that often results in them making no purchases, or simply purchasing the lowest-cost option.
One of the critically important values an interior designer offers clients is their ability to sift through the junk to find the treasures. And once those treasures are found, to put them together so that ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.’
Marketing the Luxury of Interior Design gives designers strategies to effectively position the value of their expertise.
3) Affluents are primed and ready for more sophisticated design solutions — There has been a great awakening of design appreciation among consumers today, much of it thanks to the popularity of HGTV and design-focused shows on other cable channels.
This explosion of home design information is often a source of great frustration to professional interior designers, because it gives the consumer the confidence, many would say ‘irrational confidence,’ to do-it-themselves.
Luxury marketers find a more educated and informed consumer is their best customer.
Yet designers can turn the challenge of the DIY decorating boom into their biggest opportunity with the right positioning and marketing. “Luxury marketers, which designers certainly are, find a more educated and informed consumer is their best customer,” Danziger notes.
Professional designers must build their business by putting forward the real, tangible value of their training, experience and highly specialized expertise that are only available through the services of a designer. That means more effective marketing. This book, Marketing the Luxury of Interior Design, will show how.
About Marketing the Luxury of Interior Design
This concise book is a designer’s guide to marketing success. Based upon research that author Pam Danziger, president of Unity Marketing, is known for, Marketing the Luxury of Interior Design identifies the best clients for interior designer services and reveals how to reach the target customer with branding and marketing that connects.
With a foreword by Cary Kravet, President and CEO of Kravet Inc., a leader in to-the-trade design resources, this book helps prepare interior designers to be more proficient and effective marketers as they confront today’s changing market for professional interior design services.
About Pam Danziger & Unity Marketing
Speaker, author, and market researcher Pamela N. Danziger is internationally recognized for her expertise on the world’s most influential consumers: the American Affluent, including the HENRYs (high-earners-not-rich-yet) mass affluent.
As founder of Unity Marketing in 1992, Pam leads with research to provide marketers with actionable insights into the minds of their most profitable customers.
Pam is a member of the renowned Leaders in Luxury + Design panel recognized by The Home Trust International. She received the Global Luxury Award for top luxury industry achievers presented at the Global Luxury Forum in 2007. She was named to Luxury Daily’s Luxury Women to Watch in 2013. She is a member of Jim Blasingame: The Small Business Advocate’s Brain Trust and a contributing columnist to The Robin Report and Forbes.com.
A prolific writer and blogger, Pam is author of eight books, including Home for HENRYs: Meet the New Customers Home Décor Marketers Are Searching For — High-Earners-Not-Rich-Yet, which launches a series focused on the mass-affluent HENRYs who are the changing face of America’s affluent consumer marketplace.
In 2016 she added Shops that POP! 7 Steps to Extraordinary Retail Success, to her bibliography. It reveals the secrets to crafting a retail shopping experience that’s irresistible to high value shoppers.
As a luxury market expert, Pam is frequently called on to share research-based insights with audiences and business leaders all over the world.