Sauder's Soft Modern line reaches out to Millennials at High Point Market
Thomas Russell -- Furniture Today, October 18, 2013
HIGH POINT - Ready-to-assemble specialist Sauder Woodworking is expanding its reach to Millennials at this High Point Market with 90 new pieces in its Soft Modern collection. (See video at bottom of page.)
Soft Modern launched in April with about 35 pieces. Additions this market are in bedroom, home office, home entertainment and occasional. It's one of this market's largest product introductions, and likely is the largest initiative aimed specifically at younger consumers.
The company, which shows in 220 Elm space 218, also is introducing a new logo and new packaging and expanding its reach on social media channels such as Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.
This transition has been nearly two years in the making and is part of the company's ongoing efforts to grow and innovate while maintaining its affordable price points, officials said.
Sauder, which is celebrating its 80th anniversary next year, has known for some time that it needed to do more to reach young consumers, particularly those ages 25-34, said Kevin Sauder, president and CEO.
"The market is changing," he said. "We were not providing enough modern looks and were not speaking to them where they live on social media."
To help understand the thinking of those consumers, Sauder did its own research and also hired the Bader Rutter agency of Brookfield, Wis.
These etageres, bookcase display units and rolling cocktail tables come in eye-catching colors such as bright orange, yellow and white.
"Then, after it is put together, she wants to take pictures and show her friends," he added. "We learned about the whole shopping and buying experience and all the points where we can reach her at every level."
Previously, the company focused most of its efforts on traditional forms of advertising, including point-of-purchase materials.
While Sauder has been on Facebook and Pinterest for some time, the company is ramping up its content to focus more on its emphasis on offering affordable style, said Claire Keyes, a public relations team member of Bader Rutter. This includes styles that would appeal to young consumers.
As part of this effort, Sauder said, the company brought in some talented young designers and product merchandisers to help develop the Soft Modern line.
"We really have a big and talented group of people who are working on product development," Sauder said, noting that his team has gone to design shows in Asia and Europe for ideas and inspiration. "It has been fun for me to see how some of these talented Millennials themselves are leading this company toward the future.
"I am trying hard not to edit," he added. "I am catching myself and am keeping from doing that and the end result is wonderful. The products coming out are not designed by a committee. They look like they were created by a designer."
Sauder said the company isn't abandoning its core product line of RTA home office and home entertainment purchased by Baby Boomers and other older consumers. This mix includes traditional oak and cherry laminates over traditional home office and home entertainment forms.
In recent years, the company also has diversified its line with coastal, cottage and other transitional looks.
Soft Modern includes more contemporary forms and finishes, some of which are eclectic and almost European in their design approach.
For example, an orange metal end table can be shown in the same room as a wood grain bar or nightstand, Sauder said. A number of pieces such as cocktail tables, desks and accent chests show a contrasting white laminate top or drawer with a wood grain base.
Storage ottomans upholstered in trendy new fabrics add to the mix, acting as accent pieces for any room setting. Étagères and rolling cocktails come in eye-catching colors such as bright orange, white and yellow.
Prices also are affordable, with pieces ranging from $50 for a bookcase or side table to $299 for a storage cabinet or desk. A queen platform bed retails at $199 and a nightstand retails at $99.
Sauder said the company has developed new ideas throughout its nearly eight-decade history.
"This is the latest wave of innovation," he said. "It is just a new focus on the younger consumer. It's a big market, and we need to make sure we are there and are relevant for them as they are furnishing their homes. We think we have done that."
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