To-The-Trade Interior Design Industry Disrupted



The business of interior design, and the to-the-trade companies that serve designers with exclusive home furnishings for their affluent clients, are facing dramatic disruptive trends, according to a new research study conducted by research firm Unity Marketing and The Home Trust International.  The study includes a survey among 536 design industry professionals, including both product suppliers and design and other home service professionals.

“The design and luxury home business models were built on distribution channels that have been disintermediated by a changing affluent consumer empowered with confidence and technology,” says Chris Ramey, president of The Home Trust International, a membership consortium of brands, design professionals and other service providers meeting the needs of affluent luxury homeowners.

The traditional to-the-trade interior design distribution model based upon exclusive sales to and through designers is broken

As a result of the broken business model, a growing number of previously to-the-trade exclusive companies have opened their doors for direct-to-consumer sales. This threatens the longstanding relationship between designers and companies that previously served them exclusively, turning it from a supportive partnership to a confrontational, competitive one.

“We discovered an industry in the throes of disruptive change,” said Pam Danziger, president of Unity Marketing and principal researcher leading the study.

Designers can’t rely anymore on the old idea that their competitive edge is to provide access to exclusive high-quality, design-intensive products for the home. In this internet-powered age, consumers have discovered how to work around designers who previously controlled their ‘exclusive’ sources.

As a result, to-the-trade product suppliers have seen their traditional distribution channel shrinking and increasingly are meeting the consumers directly in the marketplace, leaving designers out in the cold.

Net/Net: The to-the-trade interior design business model is broken. Here is the fix.