22797 Wed, 10/05/2011 - 4:00pm
It’s nothing new to say that to succeed in business, a company needs to change with the times.
But it seems that the rate of change today is so head-spinningly fast, it’s nearly impossible to keep up.
The current state of metamorphosis occurred to me last month when I read “20/20: Vision for the Future” from the International Furnishings and Design Association. The report is drawn from a survey of nearly 2,000 IFDA members across the United States and abroad and it forecasts how Americans will live in the year 2020.
According to the report, tomorrow’s home is evolving to be quite different from today’s.
The most obvious difference, most respondents predicted, is that Americans will be living in smaller spaces with fewer rooms. Formal living rooms are becoming extinct; dining rooms will fall by the wayside as eat-in kitchens become more popular. Kitchens in general are expected to grow larger as Americans’ interest in home cooking continues to escalate.
Furniture is expected to become more multi-purpose--think modular, moveable and smaller in scale. Master bedrooms won’t get bigger, but they’ll be busier as they accommodate home offices, media centers and exercise equipment. Outdoor living spaces will expand.
Wasn’t it just a few trade show circuits ago that McMansions were driving home furnishings sales?
All of these things, of course, will have mammoth repercussions on the home furnishings industry.
Susan Hirsh, former IFDA national president who directed the study, said American home life has changed dramatically since the organization conducted its first survey in 2000. “We were hit with a decade of circumstances we couldn’t have foreseen,” she said.
No kidding. Even the most cynical forecaster could not have predicted the events of 9-11. And few of us expected the dramatic, historic economic downturn.
It reminds me of a presentation I attended at the National Retail Federation’s annual meeting in the late ’90s where an exuberant financial guru said there was no reason why the then-booming economy wouldn’t continue into perpetuity. I wish I could remember the guy’s name so I could publish it here. He was extremely sure of the economy, not to mention himself.
Pretty much the only thing that most of us are sure of these days is that we can’t be sure of anything—except for change, of course.
Speaking of change: When Costco’s co-founder and CEO Jim Sinegal retires in January, the retail landscape will lose one of its last true merchants. I used to occasionally call on Sinegal—who answered his own phone—for various stories I was working on. Consumer electronics, small appliances, textiles, you name it, the man can speak knowledgeably about any product category in his store.
Sinegal was bullish on the potential growth of wholesale clubs in the mid-’90s when the “experts” said the nation was already saturated with the stores. These days, I get a kick out of hearing from vendors about what a “bang-up job” Costco’s quietly doing in their particular category.
Craig Jelinek, currently Costco’s president and chief operating officer, is succeeding Sinegal.
Jelinek was quoted in the Seattle Times saying, “Not a lot’s going to change.”