Domestic furniture accounts for only 35 per cent of sales in Germany, and the trend is downwards.The German market is increasingly polarised between “cheap” and “expensive”, and unfortunately, the German furniture trade is contributing significantly to this trend.
End consumers may be delighted to snap up a supposed bargain; however, the purchasing associations’ strong position and the resulting uniformity of the furniture on sale often lead to a rather boring offering. A customer who is after something special and personal will find the search difficult.
Many customers long to see exclusivity in the broad furniture market. This is a problem that the furniture industry can tackle by proposing suitable offerings.
#zuhausesein: the new social media initiative
The VDM is making a start with its initiative #zuhausesein (feel at home). It’s been running on social media on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Manufacturers, experts and designers put forward suggestions and lend their support to furniture made in Germany.
The aim is to position German furniture as contemporary and innovative, to get consumers excited about interior design and to increase demand in Germany and worldwide. The initiative is accompanied by radio adverts and conventional press work as well as collaborations with media and bloggers to ensure the campaign reaches a wide audience.
Competitions giving end customers the chance to win furniture made in Germany are also being staged as part of this collaboration. “The idea is for people to show us their favourite room, and we’ll promise to make it even more attractive with beautiful furniture produced in Germany,” says Ursula Geismann, the VDM’s Spokesperson.
The winning images will be shown at imm cologne 2020 at the stand hosted by the VDM at the interior business event in Cologne, and the winners will be invited to attend the trade fair.
The German furniture industry: slight variations in sales at a high level
After a slight fall in sales in 2017, the German furniture industry recorded a modest sales increase in 2018. Sales in 2018 stood at just under Euro 18 billion, 0.6 per cent higher than in the previous year. However, the German furniture industry had to face a small downturn in sales of 0.9 per cent between January and April this year.
The economic outlook for German furniture manufacturers is somewhat gloomier in summer 2019 than it was at the end of the previous year. Domestic sales fell by 0.9 per cent in the first four months of 2019 compared to the same period in the previous year. Manufacturers’ foreign sales declined by 1 per cent.
The industry’s export share – the goods delivered directly to other countries by domestic furniture manufacturers as a proportion of the industry’s total sales – has remained stable in the first four months of 2019 at just under 32 per cent. The 477 plants and production units with more than 50 employees (-1.1 per cent) currently have a workforce of 84,484 people (+0.6 per cent). Depending on the impact of Brexit and potential trade restrictions, the VDM predicts stable sales or slight growth for 2019 overall.
The outlook is positive
Despite the slight falls in the current year, the underlying global economic conditions remain positive. As with other sectors, trade flows are increasing in the furniture industry, and German furniture can build on its good image to expand its position globally.
As far as exports are concerned, the VDM has significantly increased its activities to support its medium-sized members. It provides market analyses for selected countries and attractive conditions for appearing at trade fairs outside Europe. With this backdrop, the German furniture industry can look to the future with optimism.
The German furniture industry will hold its ground once again in 2019. With domestic demand currently static, the export business is becoming increasingly important for German manufacturers. The “Made in Germany” label still has considerable value and is highly regarded, especially abroad. To demonstrate the potential of German furniture design to domestic consumers, the Association of the German Furniture Industry (VDM) has now launched the initiative #zuhausesein (feel at home). In her guest contribution, Ursula Geismann, the VDM’s Spokesperson and Trend Analyst, outlines the latest developments in the German furniture market and explains why the #zuhausesein initiative is so important.