Country Focus  

On The Children’s Playground

by Valeria Kononenko, Mebelny Biznes

Furniture suppliers and retailers are trying to give a new lease on life to an old slogan “All the best for children”.

Russians don’t save on children. Market of children goods continues to grow even amid economic crisis. According to prognosis of Synovate Comcon consulting bureau, in 2016 it will increase by five to seven percent, reaching a 530 billion ruble turnover. And by 2020, according to business analysts estimates can double its volume.

One of the main reasons of growth- on-going baby boom which started in the beginning of 2000’s; another important factor, which directly influences children goods market — the widespread idea of responsible parenting. It presupposes active and healthy lifestyle, attention to child’s demands. This trend can be seen in consumption as well. In the last couple of years, an average share of family budget spent on the little ones is growing.

Retail sector was one of the first to react on the change of consumer paradigm in the children sector. Fierce competition prompts retailers not just develop formats, but also look fornew concepts of promotion, featuring unusual display, interactive sales and online activity.

Principles of children furniture display and promotion have changed. Now children participate in the process of purchasing. Parents ask for their kids’ opinion before signing a check. And retailers can’t ignore this trend.

Arranging kids’ spaces is a special task for managers of furniture retailers. The retailer to look at is Ikea. Unusual and spectacular organization of space appeals to little customers. Ikea recreates the world of kids’, guided, in the first place, by tastes and fantasies of children, but not their parents. Russian furniture market is trying to move in the same direction.

A couple of years ago one of the main furniture retailers in Russia — Moscow-based “Grand” — expanded kids’ space to five thousand square meters and decorated it as a Medieval European town. Another Moscow based furniture retailer “Tri Kita” also has a significant kids’ space.

“I’ve been working for “Tri Kita” for more than ten years and I see how kids’ furniture and principles of its presentation change”, Director of “Tri Kita” cabinet furniture department Galina Kosheleva says, “Earlier kids’ bedroom was just a small copy of adults’ bedroom. And it was displayed for adults too. Today the main aim is to be interesting for kids. Examples are displays of Dutch brand LifeTime, German Paidi and Polish Meble Vox. These companies present complete product lines: from changing tables to play spaces and stationery. These displays are visaully appealing”.

It goes without saying that investment into retail displays should be based on commercial value, in the first place. Such companies as “Scand Mebel”, “Pragmatics”, “Ivushka”, “Artima”, “Mebel- Moskva”, “38 parrots” have branded projects for kids. These suppliers see economic value in organizing branded retail spaces. Ulyanovskbased KLUКVA is very specific about its sttrategy in displaying kids’ furniture.

Nevertheless, retail branding is really interesting just for companies offering kids furniture. Universal manufacturers are usually combining kids’ zones with bedrooms.

Retail chains selling kids’ goods are looking at kids’ furniture: in the situation of economic crisis they are trying to introduce new goods in their product lines as an experiment. It is quite possible that appearance of full-value cabinet furniture and upholstery in kids’ stores will become a general market trend. For example retail chain “Kenguru” (for moms and kids) is already experimenting with this.

“Kids’ furniture’s share is still insignificant in our turnover”, Commercial Director of “Kenguru” Elena Anaiko says, “Key items — clothes and footwear. However, we get requests from customers and see that that there is a certain deficit of offers in the premium segment. That is why we decided to expand our product line in this category”.

According to the market players, by the capacity of segments and on school children, teenagers and youngsters; while 7–10 years ago cabinet furniture producers considered kids’ furniture their off-line sector, today almost all production facilities offer this category. At the moment influential “federal” producers are ruling on the market of furniture for kids and teenagers. Best selling styles from “Mebel Moskva”, “Lerom”, “Lyubimy Dom”, “Tri Ya”, “Yana”, “38 parrots”, “Diva-mebel”, “Glazov” are the talk of the town. Kids’ furniture is an important product category for such companies as “Katyusha”, “Shatura”, “Angstrem”. Kaliningrad companies — “Pragmatica”, “Manngroup”, “Dedal”, “Dana”, “Lazurit” competitive ability kids’ furniture is on 3rd place among all kids’ goods. Bearing in mind good annual dynamics, this sector is attractive for furniture producers.

Woodright / Willie Winkie

Woodright / Willie Winkie

Klukva / Comment

Speaking about key players in the segment of furniture for newborns and pre-school children, it can be noted that we are usually talking about factories, working with natural wood —pine, birch, beech. Belarusians are quite active in this segment. In addition to their own furniture styles, they are also supplying Russia with licensed products — collections, manufactured under European brands. Vast majority of Russian furniture producers prefer to focus on school children, teenagers and youngsters. While 7–10 years ago cabinet furniture producers considered kids’ furniture their off-line sector, today almost all production facilities offer this category.

At the moment influential “federal” producers are ruling on the market of furniture for kids and teenagers. Best selling styles from “Mebel Moskva”, “Lerom”, “Lyubimy Dom”, “Tri Ya”, “Yana”, “38 parrots”, “Diva-mebel”, “Glazov” are the talk of the town. Kids’ furniture is an important product category for such companies as “Katyusha”, “Shatura”, “Angstrem”. Kaliningrad companies — “Pragmatica”, “Manngroup”, “Dedal”, “Dana”, “Lazurit” are still important players on the market. However, these cabinet furniture producers are facing competition from ambitious regional companies. They are entering the market with new interior design ideas and good price.

“It goes without saying that new aggressive players will try to take away market share from companies, which have been on the market for quite a while”, Igor Gerasimchuk (“Dedal”) says, “Some of our partners, for example, displayed KLUКVA furniture. This company’s collections look bright, appealing in terms of price—that’s what dealers say. What does this mean? Producers of kids’ furniture can’t stop. In order to get the desired effect, one need to invest into research, achieve good price and be more active in marketing”.

In recent years, general level of kids’ furniture presented on the Russian market has increased significantly. One can say that today the sector is booming. Just like the market of furniture for adults, kids’ furniture segment is differentiated by niches and segments. Some companies specialize on made-to-order kids’ furniture, while others produce mass furniture. In fact, we are dealing with two different markets with their rules and goals.

Made to order furniture segment is presented mainly by small production companies with strong designer bureaus. They are not chasing after volumes and often specialize on kids’ furniture, paying fastidious attention to detail. In addition to furniture proper, they offer an impressive array of interior accessories for kids’ room. Producers of expensive kids’ furniture may work in various styles, but they exclusively use natural materials and oftentimes their products are hand-made. Main clients of these companies — wealthy families, valuing individuality and originality in interior design.

Mass furniture producers have their own technological package. They are using wood laminated plastic and MDF plates. Instead of handpainting —silk-screen painting and UV-printing. However, requirements on safety and functionality are the same as in the premium sector. Visually, mass kids’ furniture today is not much different from premium class. Producers of mass furniture are keeping an eye on design trends. Some of the most important criteria for producing mass kids’ furniture are practicality and combinativity.

One more peculiarity of mass kids’ furniture production segment is worth mentioning. Cabinet furniture factories often introduce kids’/teenagers’ furniture in addition to their collection for adults for the sake of “unity of style”. Russian kids’ furniture sector looks surprisingly stable and appealing on the background of overall furniture industry. It seems that it offers opportunities to everyone interested. But unfortunately, or, maybe fortunately, this is not quite so. Full of perspectives, it’s at the same time very demanding and picky. In order to gain success, one needs to have certain qualities and competencies, such as thoughtfulness and consideration, meticulous attention to quality and honesty in choosing material, huge creativity and mutual understanding with an ultimately creative customer.