Furniture Market Grows with Consumers

Discussion
Mar 16, 2010

By George Anderson

More than one in three Americans are classified as obese
by the American Medical Association and a growing number of manufacturers and
retailers are marketing upsized furniture for the plus-size crowd.

As a Daily
Finance
article points out, big-and-tall shops and plus-size
stores have found a profitable niche that furniture marketers are hoping to
tap into. According to the piece, armchairs in the U.S. typically measure “20
to 26 inches in width, perfect for a slender frame, but too small for many
customers nowadays. Meanwhile, dining room tables, beds and other standard
furniture pieces are often too short, too narrow or too flimsy for plus-size
users.”

While the need may be there, marketing to this consumer segment can
be tricky. Some companies such as OversizeFurniture.com dispense with subtlety
while the Living XL website prefers to alleviate “discomfort, frustration and
inconvenience” for
consumers who need more space. Another e-tailer, Brylane, offers a large selection
of chairs for “Plus-Size Living.”

Many mainstream merchants including Crate
and Barrel, Ethan Allen, J.C. Penney, La-Z-Boy and Pottery Barn also sell plus-size
furniture. “Sleeper chairs” and “chair-and-a-half” are
terms used for bigger furniture without crying out they are built for those
going through life on the large side.

Discussion Questions: Do you see a sizable opportunity
for furniture designed for big-and-tall consumers? What do you think are the
keys to marketing and merchandising this furniture?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

Join the Discussion!

7 Comments on "Furniture Market Grows with Consumers"


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
David Livingston
Guest
11 years 2 months ago

I’m only 5′ 8″ but when I visited the home of my 5th great grandfather’s house that he built in 1792, my head was nearly touching the ceiling. We are becoming a nation of taller and bigger people. A funeral director friend of mine now keeps a doublewide casket in stock all the times. It used to be a special order but demand for plus size caskets has gone way up. If only we could just get the airlines on board with this kind of marketing. Good idea in the short term but eventually, everything will need to be larger.

Mel Kleiman
Guest
11 years 2 months ago

The American public is getting bigger, so the market for bigger everything is getting bigger. Why not bigger furniture for bigger people?

Ralph Jacobson
Guest
11 years 2 months ago

Everything needs to reflect the growing size of a significant portion of the population. Cars (back seat leg room), high-quality women’s fashions, beds, everything.

Sara DeBerry
Guest
Sara DeBerry
11 years 2 months ago

I am by no means a big person but I prefer bigger furniture. The ‘chair and a half’ arm chairs are perfect for curling up with a book and the deeper couches are great for afternoon naps. I am a slender female in a small apartment and I still purchased oversized furniture, it is just cozier! I definitely see this as a growing movement in reaching consumers of all sizes.

Ted Hurlbut
Guest
Ted Hurlbut
11 years 2 months ago

My sense is that the dimensions of many standard-size furniture items have been growing larger, but plus-size furniture above and beyond those dimensions would likely run into production run-size issues that might push retail prices beyond workable. For that reason, and because of the dimensions of standard-size furniture, I suspect this would be a pretty narrow niche business, at best.

Mandy Marxen
Guest
Mandy Marxen
11 years 2 months ago

Americans are always bigger. Bigger is better, right? And with a bigger home, normal furniture is dwarfed by the cathedral ceilings and wide open floor plans. But the bigger price tag for these bigger furniture pieces will only add to people’s already bigger credit card debt.

I am starting to see a small backlash now; the emergence of ‘hearth rooms’ off of kitchens to create a cozy nook for casual relaxation without yelling from way across the great room. So hopefully the scale will normalize back down as people start to actually live within their means: buying only the size house they need–which requires more normal-sized furniture.

Oh yeah, and quit eating so much junk!

Doron Levy
Guest
Doron Levy
11 years 2 months ago

As the average American consumer ‘evolves’ so should the products they need. Now if only someone would tell the airlines their customers are also evolving….

wpDiscuz

Take Our Instant Poll

How big an opportunity do you see for retailers in plus-size furniture?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...