ReD Associates’ study about home making for Kvadrat informed the development of Kvadrat’s new textile-based offerings.
At a time when consumers are returning to tactility, craftsmanship, and high quality one would believe that Kvadrat’s award winning textile design classics would be in high demand. But in the consumer’s mind textile, even of the highest quality, is no longer an end product you buy by the meter, turning it into curtains, plaids or clothing yourself. The time and skills required to do this are in sharp decline. Textiles today must take the form of an end product, such as blankets, pillows, or towels. These insights are good to have if, like Kvadrat, one wants to expand one’s client base from architects and designers to the end consumer.
“We wanted to understand the entire consumer experience in depth in order to develop a new ready made curtain solution. Together with ReD, we initiated a deep dive study with the aim of creating a holistic perspective on the home, home making, and the role of the curtain for people in different stages of life. This perspective has been useful in aligning ourselves internally across functions, but also in our work with external designers, the Bouroullec brothers. We used anthropological methods to study people in their homes and when shopping, and we applied the same approach in getting a deeper understanding of the role of curtains in a retail context.” Anders Byriel, CEO Kvadrat
But further thought about positioning is required. If the end product is a curtain, it is potentially a hard sell to consumers. We found that consumers perceive curtains to be in the so-called low-interest category within home decoration. Apparently, curtains are almost as low-interest as electricity or paint. In contrast, other items in the home such as light, furniture and rugs were high-interest categories that consumers would turn to in their effort to make their house a home, while paying a high price premium. The deep dive revealed a high interest for design objects and a potential hole in the market for curtains as a design accessory. Turning curtains into a design object is a new approach in the market that could provide Kvadrat with a clear and different position in an otherwise conservative industry. Kvadrat believed in this recommendation and engaged with the renowned designers Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec. If anyone can take a mundane everyday object and turn it into a surprising, highly aesthetic must-have item, it is them.In the effort to reposition the curtain from a mundane accessory to a design must-have the actual product is not enough to make the cut. The deep dive study revealed that the way curtains are sold must have a face-lift, too. The study showed how the shopping experience for curtains is cumbersome and dull, often taking place in shops that hold very low aspirational value where design conscious consumers do not naturally drop by.
Today, shopping and installing curtains is actually quite a time-consuming experience, too. It is often up to the consumer to assemble the many bits and pieces required to have a finished curtain solution back at home: turning the textile into a curtain with the right measurements involves both skills and time many consumers do not have any longer. Finding and installing the right mounting systems is another challenge. These issues make curtains quite an investment in time and scare people away. This is why most people only change curtains seldomly, say, once every twenty years. To Kvadrat, this meant that a new curtain solution had to be much more convenient to purchase and install.
At the same time, the deep dive study showed that consumers do not perceive their living rooms as rock steady installations that will not be changed over time. Rather, people want their homes to be flexible spaces. The rooms should allow people – at a certain degree – to change the interiors reflecting who they are and what mood they are in. Today, that task is given to objects such as lamps, rugs, art, pillows, plaids, TVs, and rugs. What these items have in common is that they allow you to change the atmosphere and mood of the room in a swift and easy manner. Curtains have also a high potential as mood changers. They are like blank canvasses that can be used to express different moods or annual seasons – for instance light, flashy, transparent, heavy or bright. But in order to do so curtains must be easy to install and be available at an affordable price.
The findings about easy-to-install and mood management were other elements included in the development of the new curtain solution by Kvadrat and the Bouroullecs.
In sum, the study lead to a change of perspective on the role of textiles in home making and the role of retailers in the sales process.
- Textiles are an important component in creating a home, but textiles must take the shape of a finished product to be perceived as relevant by the end consumer. The days of people buying textiles by the metre, taking the effort to turn the textile into an end product, are over. At least for now.
- Curtains are currently a low-interest category, but have the potential of becoming a high-interest item. Among other things, it requires a repositioning of the curtain towards a must-have home accessory and design object
- Flexible mood management is key in home decoration and curtains have a high potential in playing such a role if they are easy to install and change – at an affordable price
- The shopping experience must be as convenient and aspirational as the product itself
“The study made it clear that there is a huge potential for us as a company in turning our core product – textiles – into a more relevant offering in the eyes of the consumer. Curtains is such a product. Also, the study gave us insight into how curtains can be aspirational for consumers, and a core element in home making. The ideal curtain solution should be easily changeable, enable people to change the mood in the room easily, all at an affordable price. This is what we have strived to develop with the new ready made curtains. Also, we took a closer look at the ideal retail experience. We are now working on a retail concept that makes curtain shopping a fun and inspirational experience.” Anders Byriel, CEO Kvadrat