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Making your product exciting, memorable

Jerry EppersonJerry Epperson
Since the October market is upon us, let me make the exhibitors angry. Folks, you spend thousands on elegant showrooms, but where is the excitement, product-wise?
     I look forward to going to markets and make a special effort to see the new showrooms. With a modestly better economy, many of the vendors are confident enough to upgrade or expand their showrooms. In my opinion, many showrooms have never looked better and some are truly Architectural Digest-worthy in their concepts.
     But as to the furniture itself, I do find some truly creative and different furniture, more so than in the shell-shocked depths of the recession, but I learn about these through friends at the market, sources like Ellen Gefen's morning television show, or of course, the daily Furniture/Today issues. I always leave the market wondering what I missed.
     Recognizing that I am older than the Pyramids, I can assure you that before we had so many of our modern networking and communication sources, the companies offering major new collections - which cost a lot of money to develop - went to extremes to communicate it to the industry before market, creating real enthusiasm.
     Today, one of the few companies that creates a similar level of recognition is Lexington Home Brands, and this has been very successful for them. Speaking of Lexington, I remember when the World of Bob Timberlake collection was introduced in 1990 with one of the most elaborate and exciting displays ever. The result was a line waiting outside, and a showroom so full that you could not enter until someone left.
    Just recently, a friend wrote about the Maison & Object market in Paris. Some showrooms were just room groupings but others were truly differentiated. One collection was shown on the original set of the futuristic movie "Prometheus."
     Please do not invest hundreds of thousands in a new offering, put a nondescript name on it, and expect people to find it. Do your reps bring customers in? Of course. Do your pre-market emails to your existing customer list help? Of course, to those who still receive emails at that address and who open emails. But to make your investment really worthwhile and reach new customers, communicate and create some enthusiasm. Trust me, walking through a showroom and being told that this is a new oak bedroom called Fred is not memorable (unless your name is Fred).
     With some thought and marketing savvy you might create another industry legend like the original Louis Philippe by National/Mount Airy, Henredon's Scene One, Pulaski's Keepsakes, Century's Chin Hua, Singer's Paul Bunyan, Thomasville's Hemingway, American Drew's Cherry Grove, Ashley's original Millennium, Fontana by Broyhill, Ethan Allen's Radius and many others that will live forever in furniture history.

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