Furniture buyers want financing and warranties - survey
Market research on the furniture and wooden products industry, commissioned by Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC), has found that the retail market requires financing options and warranties not offered by many local furniture manufacturers.
Conducted by consultants Rohan Bell and Lincoln Price of Research and Analysis Associates Limited, between December 2011 and March 2012, the study found that the market is willing to pay a premium for furnishings for which financing and product warranties are available.
By financing is meant that customers prefer to be offered a contractual arrangement in which they are allowed to pay for the goods in parts, or a percentage at a time.
The researchers also recommend that local manufacturers move to correct the perception that locals cannot deliver on time.
"Businesses and households who are not impressed with local industry perceive the local furniture maker as unreliable, likely to vary from specifications agreed for an order, not offering warranty and financing, and untimely with delivery," the researchers found.
"Based on the desirability of hire-purchase options, product warranty, guarantees to supply the volume ordered, to deliver on time, and the unfavourable perception of the market for the local industry on these selling features, focus must be placed on greater pre- and post-sales services that are enablers for the consumer at the decision making stage," said the researchers.
Businesses and householders agree that they prefer to visit showrooms to inform their purchasing decisions for furniture and wooden products. The Internet was identified as an important source of shopping information for businesses, three times as much as it is for households.
The researchers indicate that focus group feedback "suggests a pervasive impression that the local furniture maker is unreliable," although additional surveys contradict this.
"The conflicting impressions suggest a need for initiatives to push back negative perceptions in the market place that undermines acceptance of the local furniture maker," the researchers said.
The study shows that the most important features for household and businesses in furniture and wooden products are durability, type of material used and the finishing. As such, the researchers suggest that product development for the local industry must focus on those qualities to improve market competitiveness and consumer value.
In the survey, the researchers found that in terms of material, mahogany is the favourite choice for businesses, while households prefer cedar.
"Those who prefer wood tend to be willing to pay a higher price for their intended purchases than the market, generally. Leather, mahoe and pine fetch the highest reserve price," the researchers also found.