Dunelm looks to pop-ups to educate its aspirational customers on décor

The main takeaways from the Dunelm SS20 show, which Retail Insider recently attended, were that the retailer would rather its shoppers bought smarter not more.

It also looks like the success of its online operation, which has rejuvenated the brand, could lead the way to trialling pop-ups that would provide shoppers with guidance on dressing rooms. Oh, and dust off your Ottoman from the attic – they’re back.

The theme of the collection generally is mindfulness and sanctuary with an emphasis on dining together and a calmer way of living. And the retailer is also angling at a new core customer. Along with the women in their forties who already shop there, they want to target a younger consumer who is probably renting or even sharing a house and certainly has little to no storage space. To that end they have introduced pieces like the narrow desk table below with storage shelving incorporated which fits into the ever shrinking average living space in the UK.

Shrinking living space leads to compact furniture

It also seems clear from the launch that Dunelm has realised its customers would definitely like to have some instruction or tutorials in how to dress a room and that the existing format of stores is possibly not conducive to that educational and aspirational side of retail. Therefore pop-up stores featuring product classes or experiential rooms presented in the round with Dunelm products could potentially be an exciting new avenue for the retailer in the future.

Lightweight, movable – ideal for renters

Foldaway tables, Ottoman chests which also double as seating, and open wardrobes with no doors or backs, which allow the user to put clothes in an easily moveable format without forcing them to use the dreaded rail on wheels, are also in the new collection. But obviously the retailer is hoping that some of the above will also be of interest to its loyal long-term older customers who may be downsizing after children have left and might also need space saving devices in their new smaller homes.

Elsewhere the collection nods to sustainability with recyclable jars for that refillable aesthetic and plastic largely banished. Most products are manufactured from natural materials with for example indoor chairs, light shades and rugs made of rattan, jute or cane.

The Art Deco inspired cocktail cabinet

And finally there is a strong emphasis on staying in to eat and drink together – part of the sanctuary theme. To that end some items that hark back to the golden age of home entertaining are on the comeback trail. An art deco-inspired cocktail drinks cabinet for one. All in all it’s a mix of things your grandma could have told you like breathable cotton sheets best next the skin, but with an eco-angle such as new blends of cotton which are better for the planet. Pretty neatly encapsulating the two target markets.