Saturday, January 30, 2010

Considerations for a new market in China: Seniors

Our group has the privilege to work with Herman Miller, the notable "high-end" American brand that provides furnishing and interior design for office, homes, hotels, hospitals. I know it as a contractor of Charles and Ray Eames work in the 1940s and '50s. Now, Herman Miller is examining how it can assist the aging population to "Age in Place."

Recognizing that human nature becomes "chair centered" as it ages, Herman Miller is looking to not only bring chairs to China but environments for nursing homes, assisted living communities and private homes.

On pleasing aspect of HM is that they build their furniture in the country of its market. This new market will potentially bring employment opportunities.

Ruosi from Peking University voiced concern about the word "high-end" used in the Herman Miller design brief. I echoed that with a question that proposed a scenario wherein the market would only bear a certain price that might not be what HM is accustomed to but offered a foot into the market. The response was to show how distribution could work.

In closing for now, I foresee a large cultural hurdle being that the aging Chinese have come through the Cultural Revolution. Will they be looking for traditional comfort or something new?

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