From Home Furnishing Business
By Sheila Long O’Mara
Big screen televisions and other consumer electronics are holding a tight grip on the top of the holiday wish lists this year. Why not? The category is sexy and bright and is a source of in-home entertainment. Furniture retailers are holding out hope that consumers hold on to enough dough to cover the cost of a home entertainment console or wall unit to accommodate those electronic purchases. Quality and design of home entertainment products top the list—even above price consideration—of purchase influencers for consumers of the category. That’s according to the most recent consumer survey conducted by Home Furnishings Business, in which more than 160 consumers participated. Those consumers had recently made home entertainment purchases and shared insight into the product and their likes and dislikes.
Not surprisingly; the bulk of home entertainment purchases landed in either the living room or family room. That’s where 93 percent of the pieces are housed. An interesting note —and one that retailers and manufacturers should keep in mind—10 percent found their way into bedrooms. Those bedrooms, smaller than family rooms, require smaller pieces that can still accommodate electronics.
Storage needs remain a priority for the home entertainment consumer. Many of them have accumulated a library of DVDs, video games and Blu-Rays over the years, as well as a variety of components. Eighty-eight percent rank disc storage as somewhat important to very important in their home entertainment unit. More than 56 percent own flat panel televisions and more than 18 percent have a satellite or cable box that needs to be housed.
Features and functions built into the furniture is an added, often required, benefit that consumers for which consumers are shopping. More than 42 percent want to be able to hide those components. Also ranking above the 35 percent thresh hold are display space for knickknacks; and built-in powerstrips. Another jewel could be docks for MP3 players and tablets. The majority of our panel bought their furniture from a bricks and mortar store, In fact, 62 percent bought from furniture stores, followed by 15 percent at other and eight percent at a warehouse price club. Must shunned the Internet as a shopping source, and most report that they’d likely follow that same protocol for future purchases. Only 18 percent said they’d be very likely to buy home entertainment online.
Compare that to consumer electronics where more than 43 percent said they’d be very likely to buy those products online. More than 76 percent of our consumers spent more less than $2,000 on their home entertainment purchase. The good news from our panel is that they are mostly satisfied with their purchases based on quality, style and functionality. More than 83 percent give their new furniture the thumbs up on style; 78 percent give high marks on function; and 68 percent give a passing grade on quality.
With the sleek, sexy design of televisions and other components these days, consumers are eager to show them off. Gone are the days of armoires where the doors could shutter and hide the fact that the great room was used as a viewing spot. Instead, 72 percent are looking for consoles that also accommodate component and media storage. When asked specifically how important it was to hide the television, 82 percent said not at all. Why spend all that money on a great-looking TV without being able to show it off to your friends and family, right?
Just so you’ll know. The second option, falling at a distant 18 percent, would be to hang the screen on a wall. And, when it comes to screens, size does matter. More than 88 percent of our panel have at minimum a 37-inch television as their primary viewing screen. More than 28 percent report having a 55 inch or larger television as their primary choice for viewing. So what does the future hold for our home entertainment consumer as far as purchases go? Well, more than 65 percent will be buying a 37-inch or larger television within the next six months to one year.
Here’s looking for an uptick in home entertainment sales as they fill the need for additional space to hold those TVs.
What Retailers Say
SUNNY DESIGNS 2733RO
“It’s vintage oak with mixed media. It’s a pretty big look in our market. When it goes in the family room, our customers like that mixed media.” Retail is $799.
Gene Stoltz, CEO
Ashley Furniture’s W430-28 TV Stand
“It’s a great updated country style that gives a modern feel but works great in New England homes. It fits today’s most popular size flat screens and gives ample storage.” Retails for $398
Bill Abrams, vice president
Allen Wayside Furniture
THE CABANA COLLECTION (1) AND GRAND HACIENDA (2) BOTH FROM LONE STAR RUSTIC
“Both looks are rustic, but one is more refines rustic style. Both of these looks out through the sometimes sameness of traditional looks. The consumer seems to be looking for something unique and different that they can identify with for their living space.” The Grand Hacienda 60-inch console retails at $487.97; the Cabana 60- inch console is $467.97 and is available in 72 inches for $497.97.
Phyllis Zaepfel, COO
Sunny Designs’ 3403DC
“The different colors of the slate make this wall unit suitable to match many collections that we carry. In addition, it has great dimensions and price point. It also has built-in media storage, pullout game drawer and wire management. These characteristics seem to be very important to our consumers.” $999 for complete wall unit.
El Dorado Furniture
Miami Gardens, Fla
Hooker Furniture’s TELLURIDE CONSOLE
The Telluride’s console-hutch format has increased in importance for Hooker Furniture for some time now. Hank Long, senior vice president of merchandising and design, said it is a best-seller because it accommodates a 60-inch television, offers a lot of look for the money, and two major retailers are running it. Telluride is featured in hardwood solids and veneers in a black paint finish with rub-through and physical distressing with carved leather panels and nailhead trim for a masculine looking entertainment center furniture. Hutch and console as shown retail around $3,198.
RIATA BY RIVERSIDE FURNITURE
Part of the newly introduced 39-piece whole home collection, this entertainment console offers casual contemporary styling. Designed to target younger consumers, Riata offers clean lines with sophisticated, rugged hardware.
Stanley’s La Palma Media Wall
What makes is saleable: The La Palma media wall’s casual styling accommodates up to a 60-inch television and has plenty of room for media storage. The unit also can be repurposed as an etagere. Suggested retail is $3,600.
SLIGH DIVISION OF LEXINGTON HOME BRANDS’ 100SB-660 PACIFIC ISLE MEDIA CONSOLE
Phil Haney, president and CEO of Sligh’s parent company, Lexington Home Brands, credits the Pacific Isle media console’s striking design as a reason it sells so well. “It is a significant design statement in its own right, even before the electronics are considered,” he said. Other pluses include trademarked functional features such as Smart Eye, Strong Arm and Smart Fan. IMP is $2,929.
Sauder’s 412922 CARSON FORGE ENTERTAINMENT CREDENZA
The Carson Forge credenza accommodates up to a 60-inch television weighing up to 135 pounds. A flip-up panel reveals a digital dock for parking, recharging and synching mobile electronics and game controllers. The adjustable center shelf holds audio/video equipment. There are two adjustable shelves behind each framed, safety-tempered glass door. The drawer with metal runners and safety stops features a patented T-slot assembly system. This piece is inspired by recovered materials. The reproduction finish and riveted wrought iron hardware will add authentic craftsmanship to any modern home. Manufacturer’s suggested retail price is $299.
Twin-Star International’s Enterprise
A fresh white finish with smoke tempered glass doors and clean simple lines make the Enterprise one of Twin-Star International’s top selling home entertainment consoles. It can wireless stream audio from any Bluetooth enabled smartphone, and it has a built-in docking station that play’s audio and video from Apple mobile devices while simultaneously syncing and charging. An integrated sound bar has four main speakers, two tweeters, rear facing passive bass ports and a powered subwoofer. The added bonus – a realistic looking electric fireplace in the center to warm the room. Retail is $999.99.
Bush’s AERO 60-inch Television Stand
The Aero’s sleek design provides plenty of functional space, and it accommodates flat screen televisions up to 60 inches and 154 pounds. It has a durable gray tinted glass top shelf; open top compartment for components or a sound bar; cabinets with adjustable shelves and tinted glass doors; a solid back panel that hides wiring and provides stability; and wire management zip ties and pass through slots. The unit is tested to Bush standards for tip stability. Retail is around $249.
This 60-inch media unit is finished in the company’s Urban Lodge Brown and features a unique rough-hewn style. The 087-60 is a versatile with sex drawers and three openings that can be used as a media unit, accent piece or in the dining room as a server. The media chest is also available in 42-inch and 50-inch units.
Martin’s Carlton CN360 Television Console and CN 970 Pier
Carlton boasts modern architectural flare with clean lines and clear bourbon finish; and compliments a variety of home decors. The piece is inspired by the Kathy Ireland Home Architectural Style Guide; and is manufactured in Mexico. Retail is $1,349.
Home Entertainment Snapshot
The home entertainment category has remained in lockstep with the industry as a whole. The category has remained relatively stable with little growth since 2012 when it jumped 6.73 percent. Some of the strong growth in 2012 can be attributed to the boom in consumer electronics and new technologies coming into the marketplace. After all, those wide screen televisions needed a place to rest. Through the third quarter of this year, home entertainment sales have slipped just 0.01 percent when compared with the same period last year. Sales through the third quarter in the category are $2.4 billion. Home entertainment accounts for 28 percent of the overall occasional category with sales of $3.19 billion in 2012.