A profitable, expanding market, which has grown by 25.3% in the last ten years, with exports up 35% over the same period. But it is also a complex, rapidly evolving market, with movements across the channels and the appearance of new players. This is the design industry, the state of which was presented at the 5th Design Summit organised in Milano by Pambianco with Interni Magazine.
According to CSIL (Italy’s Light Industry Study Centre), world consumption of design items stood at 535 billion dollars in 2018. All categories were up, with peaks as high as 36% for lighting and 31% for upholstered items.
This growth is being driven by the continent that is emerging in many sectors – Asia Pacific – which has increased its consumption levels by 108% since 2008, and last year accounted for 43% of the world total, followed by Europe (where consumption fell, however, by 17%), the USA (up 17%) and Africa and Latin America, two areas that remained stable.
Europe may be consuming less, but it still plays a central role in production. In the area of Italian exports, the main destination countries are still France and Germany, but the USA is hot on their heels (up by 161%), as is China, which now ranks in sixth place behind the UK and Switzerland, but has recorded a 564% growth since 2008 (Source: ICE).
As for the contract sector, the channel is recovering, but remains substantially stable, with 21% of business accounted for by the hotel industry and 8% by restaurants, and with sales in Europe totalling 7.745 billion euros. Its market share varies and is strongest in the Premium category, where it covers 12%, followed by luxury (8%); performance is decidedly weaker on the mass market, where it has a market share of just 3%. And there are more players on the field: designs are now managed both by companies and by wholesalers and dealers but on and offline.
Staying the area of b2b, wholesale – i.e. sales to multi-brand dealers and franchisees – remains the main channel in Europe, including Italy, where the premium and luxury segments performed best, although here the situation is rather fragmented, with the top ten dealers accounting for just 47% of total sales. One new phenomenon is that of constant intermingling between channels. Pure b2b is diversifying and seeking out alternative approaches. E-commerce first of all, which in Italy does not even cover 2% of sales, while elsewhere in the world it has firmly established itself, to the point of reaching market shares as high as 13% in the USA (which achieved sales of 33 billion dollars) and of 15% in China, where sales totalled 68 billion (Pambianco figures based on CSIL data).