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David Perry

Consumer research aids product design

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Southerland's new Sharper Image line was the result of two years of research with consumers and retailers, the company said.
     The research studies were used to design the Response Sleep System, craft its marketing messages and measure the strength of the Sharper Image brand.
     The brand research was an independent study of more than 500 married, college- educated women ages 36 to 64. Nearly 90% of the respondents were familiar with Sharper Image, and more than half of those who were familiar with it said they knew the brand "very well" or knew "a fair amount" about it.
     The survey also revealed that 70% of the same sample had overall positive perceptions of Sharper Image and associated it with high quality. Sixty percent said it was a brand they trusted and respected.
     The same respondents identified "innovative," "interesting," "contemporary" and "stylish" as the primary product attributes ascribed to the Sharper Image brand.
     "We're extremely pleased with these and the many other research results that were part of our exploration and development of this entire program," said Steve Russo, CEO of Southerland, which is producing the Sharper Image mattress line.
     "We believe retailers will find it as compelling and exciting as consumers do," Russo said.
     Founded in 1977, Sharper Image sold its products through catalogs, branded retail stores and on an e-commerce site.
     Southerland entered into a licensing agreement for the rights to the intellectual property for the mattress industry in 2011 with Iconix Brand Group, which owns a diverse portfolio of fashion and home brands like Candies, Cannon, Royal Velvet, Waverly, and Joe Boxer.
     Today, Sharper Image products continue to be designed and built around the brand's three core principles: quality, innovation and design, officials said.
     Southerland, based in Nashville, is employee owned with manufacturing and distribution operations in Nashville, Oklahoma City and Phoenix.

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