78% of CIN survey respondents are aware of tip-over risks

Consumers also share ideas on how the industry can help inform, educate the general public about the safety issue

HIGH POINT — As tip-over regulations involving clothing storage units have consumed the case goods industry over the past several months or more, industry research expert Dana French asked how many consumers were aware of the safety issue as part of our Consumer Insights Now segment on primary bedroom furniture.

The survey, which was sent to nearly 1,900 consumers in late January, asked a simple, yet important question: Are you aware of tip-over risks associated with dressers and other clothing storage pieces? A second related question asked: If yes, what information would be helpful from a retailer or manufacturer to better understand this issue?

In response to the first question, some 78% of those surveyed said they were aware of the issue. Gen X consumers ages 43-58 were the most aware of the issue, with 86% responding yes, followed by baby boomers ages 59-75 and younger millennials age 27-34 being the next most familiar with the issue at 82%. Some 79% of Gen Z consumers ages 18-26 and 62% of older millennials ages 35-42 also said they were familiar with the issue.

An average of 18% said they were not familiar with the issue with the following responses by various age groups: older millennials ages 35-42 (33%), younger millennials ages 27-34 (17%), baby boomers ages 59-75 (16%) and Gen Z ages 18-26 (15%). Another 6% said they were not sure if they knew about or understood the risks.

Perhaps even more revealing were the responses that individuals said that retailers and manufacturers could help them better understand the issue.

Here are some of the things they asked or suggested:

+ Are there any preventative add-ons like bolts and instructions to reduce these instances?

+ What causes it and what is the likelihood of it happening?

+ Explain it at the time of purchase. Explain the issue so people are made aware.

+ Include warnings on the furniture like toys have choking hazard warnings.

+ Explain how to prevent tip-over issues.

+ Companies should disclose about tip-over accidents and offer a service that mounts furniture to the wall or the floor.

+ The manufacturers should provide a warning.

+ Provide instructions on how to anchor it.

+ The furniture salesperson should assure me the piece I’m considering is weighted/balanced so there would be no danger of tipping over. 

Now in fairness, many bedroom resources that have abided by voluntary standards for many years already include warnings about the dangers of tip-over with the furniture as well as anti-tip kits with instructions on how to anchor the units to the wall. Unfortunately, many people don’t pay attention to the warnings or use these preventative devices. As a former case goods editor, I was guilty of this myself and we almost had a tip-over incident in our household. The message? Install these anchoring devices or have a professional install them for you. If done properly, it likely will prevent injury or death of a child due to a tip-over incident.

However, the retailer also can help drive the importance of safety home by emphasizing safe use of clothing storage units — No. 1 is that children should never climb on these units and should be supervised at all times.

But the units also should be anchored to the wall and consumers clearly indicate that they want help doing this. It’s a service that the retailer or manufacturer can easily offer, just as easily as a retailer offers help or a professional referral with the assembly of a bunk bed, for example.

We’ve heard the reason they don’t is because they don’t want to be liable in case it’s not installed properly. Or that it’s difficult to anchor units to the wall in urban dwellings because of brick or concrete walls or steel beams inside those walls.

Well if there’s a tip-over involving a death or injury from a piece of furniture you sold, you can bet you’ll be hearing from an attorney. For more on that subject read this recent report by Home News Now Editor-at-Large Ray Allegrezza.

The good news in all this is that there is a new federal standard coming that will help reduce these devastating accidents. And the good news too is that, based on our research, most consumers are not only aware of the situation but also want information that helps them avoid such accidents. As an industry, it’s our collective responsibility, from the manufacturer to the retailer — brick and mortar or online — to give them the information they want and need on this critical safety issue.

Showing an interest in them and the safety of their families likely will go a long way to creating customer loyalty and likely repeat business in the future.

Thomas Russell

Home News Now Editor-in-Chief Thomas Russell has covered the furniture industry for 25 years at various daily and weekly consumer and trade publications. He can be reached at tom@homenewsnow.com and at 336-508-4616.

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