Did any of you get mad today when your inbox dinged with the sound of breaking news from Furniture Today? Amazingly, the furniture retailer community could not see the value in partnering with HGTV. HGTV and the NHFA shared niceties about one another, but the bottom line is that after many months the entire industry could only get 100 signed letters of intent.
This is shameful. The cheese people, the milk group, and even the pecan association are all capable of running national advertising aimed at raising public awareness for their products.
I personally attended one of the webinars and a live presentation at this summer’s Vegas market. This program was well thought out. This program had a real chance at raising consumer awareness. This program might have been one of the first steps at getting away from the “crack cocaine” NO,NO,NO combined with manufactures product promotions that have done little to nothing to increase the market share for furniture during the 22 years I’ve been in this industry.
It is fascinating that dealers still believe customers believe the crap they are saying in their advertising. Assuming dealers haven’t taken steps to jack-up their prices to cover the rising cost of terms, I wonder if there is recognition that each of these promotions damage the retailer’s health both short and long term. Short term, your expenses are increased or your margins are decreased to cover the price of financing or the commensurate mark down to the price. Long term, we continue to train consumers that price is the deciding reason to buy now, or they should wait for the next sale.
Do any of you like me ever wonder how Crate, Restoration, or Pottery Barn ever sells anything? I mean really, would a consumer really spend $2,400 for a fabric sofa that is not one bit better looking or built than a typical Rowe sofa sold by independent dealers day in and day out for $999? The answer is a resounding YES. Twenty years ago these retailers were considered specialty stores. Today some old timey retailers still describe them this way, while their market share is at an all time high. They are often compared to in market showrooms when talking about fashion, and they have tapped directly into the customer’s desire to live a certain way.
So I wonder if assertiveness, closing techniques, confidence tricks, conversion ratios, questioning, repetition, interrogation, and propaganda will always rule the day in independent furniture retail. Or is it possible to join the conversation already in progress? A conversation which includes Extreme Home Makeover being the number one show in primetime several weeks last year, or a conversation between 45,000,000 viewers of HGTV?
The apparent answer is NOT YET. WOW! Eventually the furniture business will move beyond the Henry Ford Model-T mentality of jamming product down the throats of the customer by making her believe she is getting a deal of a lifetime, while your margins are barely enough to pay the bills.
I just don’t get it! I guess I’ll just keep howling at the moon.