Indeed, if we are to underline an evolution root, it may be built around the exports. In 2011, Romania exported 18 percent more furniture products all around the world, not only in the European Union countries. For the end of this year there are no statistics yet but, I do not have any reason to believe that the exports will see a decline. This proves that, both qualitatively and technically, the furniture and probably also the raw wood materials, are appreciated abroad. What we lack are Romanian brands and a better communication of the brands on external markets.
The challenge in the local furniture industry is to find the end-user / consumer. But the quest for consumers is not specific to furniture industry as it is being felt all around the economy, in each industry, being determined by the downsized demand. What we should do is to adjust, to build new strategies in order to meet the consumer’s needs with the right products.
Regarding the furniture production, I think Romania is doing well and most of the factories work for the export. As we know, “nobody is a prophet in his land" - and it is probably better for us to be appreciated abroad, it's good that Romanian products are requested on European markets.
Consumers adjust, no matter what
The furniture producers and importers in Romania are feeling the effects of the overall economic turmoil and the results can be easily perceived in the market. Hence, the furniture consumption declined, since the consumers lowered their spending budget for interior design works. Also, the buyers slowed down the pace of acquiring large furniture products such as beds, coaches and closets and now they are targeting accessories. In this way, they manage to revamp the interiors with lower costs.
Even if the spending declined and the industry is noticing a slower acquisition pace, this doesn’t mean that the consumption has nearly ceased. The regular customers who buy premium brands adjust easily to changes and the ones who can afford it, will even adjust to trends.
Luxury costs money
It is said that the luxury consumption doesn’t tend to decline in the same rhythm as the mainstream level and I must admit that this proves to be quite true, if we analyze our experience in the last years. It is also true that redecorations are no longer such a frequent habit as it used to be in times of economic well- being. Several years ago, there were clients who could afford new decorations every six months or yearly. However, the luxury segment is keen on maintaining its gained status even now, during crisis, and plans to keep it like this in spite of a larger financial effort. This segment usually pays attention to trends and looks for best quality materials.
Believing in Romanian brands
I am a really tireless ambassador of Romanian brands and Romanian investments but I don’t always find an echo to my beliefs. Romanian designers are very talented and they convey a strong creative force, that is why I encourage and support them. In a concept store opened in Aleea Alexandru - Iconic - I often exhibit their creations. Yet, unfortunately, the Romanian design is not aspirational for the luxury segment, which looks for high-awareness brands and international logos. Although Romanian furniture design probably is as qualitative and creative as the luxury brands, it does not have the same reputation or tradition, it is rather experimental.