Technavio Study Suggests Mass Opportunity In Commercial Furniture

NEW YORK— In its studies, market research firm Technavio suggested that the mass market may find additional opportunity in commercial and smart furniture.

Even before the coronavirus pandemic, Technavio, in a research analysis, said it expected the commercial office furniture business in the U.S. to add $5.64 billion in sales in the period between 2019 and 2023.

The market research firm anticipated a 5.21% growth rate in 2020 and a compound annual growth rate of 6% with two-fifths of the growth to come from seating.

In a report updated as the COVID-19 pandemic began to rattle the U.S. retail sector, the market research firm maintained its CAGR figure but predicted incremental growth of $22.32 billion.

Other segments Technavio expected to grow at a faster rate than that for the category itself are table, system, storage unit and file, and overhead bins.

The rise in the number of business start-ups is a primary growth driver for the office furniture market in the U.S., Technavio noted. Rising support for start-ups from the U.S. government should translate into an increased number of start-ups operating in the country, which will, in turn, drive office furniture market growth in this region. In addition, the rise of online furniture retailing also is driving sales of office furniture, Technavio pointed out.

Although the analysis is for the commercial market, many mass market retailers, particularly but not limited to Ikea, office superstores and Amazon, serve the business market informally or formally, particularly when it comes to small, often new businesses. Furnishings for professionals represent an opportunity for mass market retailers and sellers, as they can address the needs of specific segments of the commercial market, especially small business, with familiar brands and shopping formats. Many of those retailers and vendors are developing initiatives to grab a piece of that growing market, and they could try additional dedicated efforts as to product development and marketing relatively inexpensively by building off existing product development and using targeted online marketing, as is beginning to happen.

A segment of the office furniture business that offers opportunity is smart office. Technavio expects smart office to grow at a 20% CAGR, advancing by $266.6 million from 2019 to 2024, with this year’s growth estimated at 19.31%. North America was the largest smart office furniture market in 2019, and the region offers growth opportunities during the forecast period, the market research firm stated, based on high income, high urbanization and demand for luxury and premium office furniture. More than 44% of the market’s growth will originate from North America.

Advancement in connectivity technologies is a main driving force in smart office furniture market growth, with Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and IoT all playing a role in facilitating adoption of various smart office furniture products such as smart desks, smart tables and smart chairs. A number of vendors today are developing smart furniture products with advanced connectivity technologies, with Steelcase, for example, collaborating with Sprint and Ericsson to test how 5G will impact offices by deploying Sprint’s 5G service in its Atlanta WorkLife Center.

However, the umbrella of smart home also includes feature rich standing desks and chairs that adapt to user positions to enhance ergonomic functions, which already sell through the mass market. The rapid transitioning of adjustable desks with features such as electric-motor motion and built in power stations from the pricier commercial to more affordable mass-market sector demonstrates that opportunities to make further inroads in the market should arise in the short to mid-term. —Mike Duff