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Survey outlines key habits of furniture shopper groups


Survey outlines key habits of furniture shopper groups

Furniture quality, not price, is most important to women without children. One in four Gen-Xers is thinking about a new bedroom. Members of households earning more than $75,000 are more willing to drive more than 50 miles looking for the right furniture.

These are some of the conclusions of Customer Focus 2002: Retail, a biannual study commissioned by the advertising and marketing firm Vertis on the habits, attitudes, plans and preferences of potential furniture shoppers.

Vertis' Customer Focus study, first done in 1998, is based on a survey of 3,000 adults by Customer Contact Inc. of Pittsburgh, and measures both general and industry-specific shopping trends.

Vertis, on the Web at www.vertisinc.com, provides the data to clients who use it to identify emerging consumer behavior patterns and track shifts in customer practices and motivations. The study's margin of error is plus or minus 2 percentage points.

"One of the most useful areas of the study is our examination of media use," said Therese Mulvey, the firm's vice president of strategic marketing. "It tells us how consumers acquire the information they use to make shopping decisions."

The study includes advertising inserts, which more than 50% of adults surveyed said they used in making key purchase decisions in particular categories. Of adults surveyed this year, 86% said they read ad inserts, up from 81% in 2000 and 82% in 1998.

Here are some of the findings:
* Driving for dinettes. The survey asked: How far in miles would you drive to buy new furniture? The average was 37 miles, down from 40 miles in 1998. By age, Generation Ys (ages 18 to 25) have the highest average at 40 miles, while Seniors (age 73 or more) will only drive 22 miles. Across all adults, 14% say they would drive over 51 miles to buy furniture, and that jumps to 20% for households earning $75,000 or more.

* Sleeping, not eating. For future furniture purchases, bedrooms and living rooms are on more than twice as many shopping lists as dining rooms.
Among all adults, 15% said they plan to purchase bedroom furniture in the coming year, 15% said living room furniture and 7% said dining room. Among age groups, the highest number in purchase plans was the 26% of Gen-Xers (ages 26 to 37) who said they plan to buy bedroom furniture.

* Why choose this store? Among all adults, lowest price narrowly beat out highest quality for the top motivator in choosing the store where they made their last furniture purchase (26% vs. 23%). Gen-Xers were among the most price sensitive, with 30% pointing to lowest prices as the primary reason. Another price-conscious subgroup: women with children, 30% of whom chose lowest price as the top draw.

* Ad effectiveness. When asked what medium they turn to first for help in making a purchase, ad inserts or circulars topped the list for all adults at 27%, followed by newspapers at 24%. TV and Internet came next, tying at 13%.



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