Tips & Insights

The Millennial Market MO

The next generation of buyer shares tech tricks for maximizing every High Point minute

“Sometimes our older colleagues misinterpret what happens when we're glued to our phones. They don’t realize that we’re leveraging social media apps to enhance our Market visit and to use our time more efficiently,” said 29-year-old Jordan Barrick, Vice President with Quality Furniture of Mesquite, TX.

“I log on to the High Point Market website and use the MyMarket app to research vendors by attributes like ‘green’ or ‘US made,’” said Erica Tubman, Marketing and Communications Director at Circle Furniture in Boston.

“Our social media interactions alter our experience,” said Charlotte, North Carolina-based designer Charlotte Lucas, who finds new suppliers via Instagram. “My generation uses these apps to see what is popular and to network while we’re here.”

“I check the most commonly searched furniture items on Pinterest and LIKEtoKNOW.it to confirm that our category line-up includes them,” said Carolyn McTiernan, a buyer for the 17-store, Florida-based retailer, City Furniture.

“This industry forces you to have face-to-face relationships to be successful.”
– Jordan Barrick, Vice President, Quality Furniture

Like their older colleagues, millennials carefully plan their Market schedules in advance. They also text to set up appointments once they hit the ground. “We try to be flexible enough with our agenda to set up meetings with new vendors as quickly as we can send a text. At Market, we make after-hours plans based on daily showroom buzz,” said Barrick.

Millennials also find each other at Market through organic connections. “It’s a great time to get to know our suppliers, so we typically have accounts over for dinner. Since our team is relatively young, it is inspiring to meet companies like Modus and Holland House that are also composed of young team members,” said City Furniture’s McTiernan.

Jenny Kordus, a buyer with Steinhafels Furniture of Wisconsin and Illinois, also looks forward to dinners with her colleagues. “As a group, we network with other family-oriented furniture stores, and I enjoy meeting their younger buyers.”

Not all networking opportunities are strictly social events. Designer Lucas served on the Love It Or Hate It panel in the Antique & Design Center with several other top young designers in October 2016. Sponsored by Chairish and Domino Magazine, the event featured a champagne reception and the designers’ judgments on hot trends. “It was energizing to be part of a lively discussion that mixed the work of Market with pleasure, and provided a social connection to designers my age.”

“We need to get out of our own way and listen to what the older folks tell us.”
– Jordan Barrick

As baby boomer owners prepare their younger team members to inherit more responsibilities, Market presents many opportunities for knowledge transfer between generations. “The teachable moments go both ways,” said Barrick. “I think they should let us help them embrace the tech tools that are revolutionizing every aspect of our lives, including the home furnishings industry.” At the same time, he believes a lot of valuable insight can be gained from the people who “have a track record in this business.“

Leveraging technology is an ongoing theme for the High Point Market’s signature educational events. April’s Keynote session, “Turn Web Traffic Into Foot Traffic,” gave valuable tips for creating a seamless online to in-store experience (You can see the full session on our You Tube channel, if you missed it). For Fall Market, the Home Furnishings Association has eight sessions related to technological issues scheduled for its Retailer Resource Center.

“Market opens doors through education, research, and industry intelligence specific to my business,” said Barrick. “The topics addressed in these sessions are relevant to me as a millennial buyer/online marketer, and provide insight into attracting new customers.”