Between price competition and expertise strategies
With a share of around 7 percent (2013), e-commerce plays only a secondary role in the market. However, “the significance of the online trade will continue to grow, especially in the curtain, interior blinds and sun-protection segments”, says Martin Auerbach, General Manager of the Association of the German Home Textile Industry (Verband der Deutschen Heimtextilien-Industrie). At the same time, he sees good opportunities for the bricks-and-mortar trade in the future, an opinion that is supported by the results of a new joint study entitled ‘Market Monitor: Curtains, Blinds and Sun Protection in 2014’ by BBE Handelsberatung and Marketmedia24.
According to the study, Germans spent an average of 7.5 percent more on blinds, sun protection and curtains in 2013 than in 2009. Apparently, ‘window dressings’ are no longer so frowned upon and have recaptured their place thanks to the current ‘homing’ trend, the trend towards making the home the focal point of people’s social life. The market scenarios in the study also give ground for optimism with the volume of sales forecast to grow to € 3.07 billion in retail-price terms.
Three years after publication of the first ‘Market Monitor: Curtains, Blinds and Sun Protection’ study, market analysts have completely re-examined the sector, its players, developments and perspectives. The result is an image of a sector torn between home fashion and functionality, between mega-trends and innovations and between price competition and expertise strategies – market factors that experts, including Martin Auerbach and Barbara Schmidt-Zock (Association of the German Home Textile Industry), Ulrike Wechsung (Heimtextil, Messe Frankfurt), Harry Gatterer (Zukunftsinstitut) and Stefan Mues (Elaboratum), review from the perspective of their sector in the new study.
In this connection, it is evident that the market is picking up again. Nevertheless, not all of the nine product groups covered are expected to benefit to the same extent. Sales of blinds, sun-protection systems and curtains rose by over six percent from 2009 to 2013. During the same time, however, sales of ‘pleated’ and ‘roller’ blinds rose by 20 percent while those of ‘woven curtain fabrics’ plummeted by almost 16 percent.
Against the background of these market developments, an important role has also been played by changes in home fashions, as well as technical innovations, convenience aspects and supplementary functions. Moreover, experts agree that greater value added in terms of quality increases the willingness to pay for individual solutions. And the different retail channels are likely to benefit from this to differing degrees.
For example, the market share of the furniture trade rose by over nine percent between 2009 and 2013. However, “many furniture outlets are not especially familiar with the interior decoration and blinds and sun-protection segments”, says BBE expert Sebastian Deppe. In other words, there is still potential for these sales channels to expand because more hand-crafted components, from which the installation trade and contract specialists in particular profit, makes it more difficult for furniture stores to jump on this bandwagon.
At the same time, virtual competitors are also knocking on the market doors and this could lead to a harsh awakening because, according to Elaboratum CEO Stefan Mues, the future online share of all consumer-goods sectors is expected to reach between 10 and 15 percent in the future. At present, the need for expert advice is protecting the blinds and sun-protection sector from a ‘Zalando’ effect. However, several portals, especially furniture portals, have already added products from the sector. At all events, there can be no doubt that many customers use the internet, especially to find retailers in their vicinity. Thus, an internet site is increasingly important for specialist companies, if for no other reason than to provide a point of contact for inquiries, etc. For Stefan Mues, multi-channel strategies are a must. However, he expects that there will also be a dramatic process of selection in the future, a process he calls, “Digital precariat versus digital beneficiaries”.
The new ‘Market Monitor: Curtains, Blinds and Sun Protection in 2014’ study by BBE is available for downloading from the internet at www.marktdaten24.com.