Relationships the key to success in the North American kitchen market

Bill Darcy, NKBA | KBIS Global President & CEO on post-pandemic kitchen trends and market dynamics

How have kitchen brands and retailers adapted since COVID?

With customers spending increased time inside their home, in particular in the heart of the home – the kitchen – we’re seeing kitchen brands focus on personalisation and customisation. Top kitchen brands as well as retailers are seeing an increased demand for innovative personalised and minimalistic designs that are easy to maintain, with a growing focus on sustainability, and well-curated lighting. Industry professionals also have indicated that post-COVID, slowing demand and additional manufacturing capacity have normalised lead times.

What is the biggest difference between the USA and European markets when it comes to kitchen manufacturing and distribution networks?
In America, we have a much more complex system of dealer networks that are critical for both contractors, retailers and the end consumer. Unlike in Europe where there is a more direct consumer approach, the US model is inherently more relationshipdriven, which the NKBA sees as widely beneficial in introducing new brands to the most in-demand designers and home remodeling experts. This is conceptually a difficult approach for some of our international members, but is truly one of the most important benefits of joining the NKBA. We remove the barriers to entry in the North American market and help facilitate exactly those types of relationships between manufacturers, contractors, designers and other experts that retailers often depend upon.


As Global President & CEO of NKBA | KBIS, what expertise can you share with global retailers interested in expanding in the North American kitchen market?

US customers, especially those in the luxury markets, are not one-stop shoppers. They often visit multiple product touchpoints, including showrooms, with their designers to see brand styles and functionality in action before making their final purchasing decisions. But not every US customer goes about personalising their home in the same way. In fact, the country is defined by six regional markets, all with nuances learned by professionals over time. There’s vast potential for European success in North American markets if they leverage the power of relationships and take the time to adapt their go-to market strategies to our distinct regions.

What luxury innovations and trends are you most excited about?

We are really seeing a dramatic shift toward outdoor kitchens. Some luxury designers have even told me they are now the standard and they are no longer building homes that don’t at least have some form of an outdoor kitchen. The pandemic encouraged more time at home and outdoors, and outdoor kitchens, with products like pizza ovens and fire pits, create more usable square footage out of existing space. We are excited to see luxury outdoor kitchens as a rapidly growing category, with no end in sight