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From Home Furnishing Business

What Sells: Rug of War

Rugs: stage setters, showstoppers, and unifiers all at once. Without a rug, a room can look like a collection of furniture odds and ends. Adding or updating a rug will make a space feel more defined by providing texture, pattern, and harmony between the other design elements of the room.

Based on a FurnitureCore, Inc. industry model developed by Impact Consulting Services, parent company to Home Furnishings Business, an unsurprising majority (85%) of consumers reported purchasing furniture and then a rug to pull the room together. Only 13% of consumers purchased a rug before purchasing furniture, and a meager 2% reported purchasing furniture and rugs at the same time. Consumers are clearly looking for pieces that will complete their design style through rug purchases.


With new product introduction cycles every season, rug manufacturers are pressed for fresh designs and methods to keep pace with the ever-evolving nature of consumer tastes and trending styles. They must remain relevant through brand building and by keeping the end goal in mind-—the consumer who will place their product proudly in their home-—all while guaranteeing quality products that can stand the test of time. According to Satya Tiwari, president of Surya, “Designing and bringing top selling rugs to market in a variety of styles and price points is the ethos of our business. Retailers are working with a wide variety of customer types and have to be able to satisfy all of their needs. We keep our edge and ability to bring top sellers to market by immersing ourselves in the design world at large, working side by side with our customers and analyzing our expansive internal data sources.”


But what exactly are these consumers searching for? Like all savvy consumers, they are looking for items that stand the test of time with versatility, quality, and most important, utility. According to Moe Samieian Jr. of Moe’s Home Collection, they create products for the person who wants to integrate luxury and utility. Speaking of his company’s Charleston rug he said, “The great thing about this rug is its change in texture. We love rugs that are made to last and can easily hide a stain. This rug does just that while seamlessly pairing with many of our favourite designs." 


Drilling down further into consumer tastes, the FurnitureCore study analyzed consumer preferences in color, design, and material composition. 51% of consumers reported that the dominant color of their most recent rug purchase was neutral (this includes black, white, and beige shades). Next was red at 18% followed by blue at 16%. Green was a popular selection as 9% of consumers chose this shade, with all other color options fading into the distance.


While hue is a clear frontrunner, selected design elements are spread more evenly amongst those that participated in the survey with solids leading the pack at 20%. Traditional, geometric, and floral prints are tied amongst consumers with each at a reported 18%, stripes at 11%, contemporary at 9%, and zig zag coming in last with 7%.


According to the same study, a surprising 29% of consumers reported that they were unsure of their most recent rug purchase’s composition. Natural fibers remain popular with 22% reporting wool, 7% cotton, and 20% a natural fiber blend. Synthetic fibers came in at 20% as well, and animal hide at just 2%.


With many different materials come many different manufacturer production methods. When surveyed, 38% of consumers reported that their most recent rug purchase was machine-made, followed by hand-made at 18%. A surprising 44% did not know the production method. To clear the ambiguity, Cameron Capel, president of sales and marketing at Capel Rugs, said, “We're starting to see more demand for our step-up, hand-knotted, and hand-woven designs. They offer retailers an opportunity for higher margins, while still delivering a strong value to consumers."

Some manufacturers are integrating machine-made and hand-made methods to produce unique, durable designs at a better margin. According to Larry Hedrick, VP of business development at Rizzy Home, “When we show our rugs to extremely experienced rug experts it is very common to hear them say, ‘this looks just like a hand knotted rug’. Artistry is the collection and Artistry is that good. See it, touch it, scratch it, and sniff it. It looks like the real thing but at a fraction of the cost.”

Consumers are willing to pay a wide range of amounts depending on what type of product they are searching for and for the length of time they expect to utilize it. Referring again to the FurnitureCore study, most consumers (36%) are spending $100-$399 for their purchase, followed by 22% at $400-$799. Only 16% reported their willingness to spend upwards of $800 for their rug purchase. 27% of consumers are willing to spend only $100 or less for their purchase.


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