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Thomas Russell

Bassett changes game with HGTV partnership

NAPLES, Fla. - When HGTV and Bassett Furniture Inds. first began discussing plans for a new licensed furniture line, each was in the market for a game changing business deal.
     HGTV, part of Scripps Networks Interactive, already had undergone a transition from print toward a more digital-based business model. Its lineup of TV programs based on home-oriented topics also had resulted in licensed product lines ranging from paint and flooring products to fashionable top-of-bed.
     The next step was to add a furniture line that would reflect the lifestyles of its 35 million monthly viewers.
     Having seen its store network drop from 125 locations before the recession to 90 today, full-line manufacturer Bassett wanted to reverse a drop in weekly sales.
     Enter Jena Hall Designs, led by respected industry designer and consultant Jena Hall, who was working with HGTV to design and develop a furniture line for the HGTV Home brand.
     In a conversation with Hall, Bassett President and CEO Rob Spilman learned of the work she was doing for HGTV, and the rest is history. The company will unveil the first HGTV Home furniture line at the next Premarket in High Point, which will be about a month before the April 21-26 High Point Market.
     Hall, Spilman and HGTV executive Ron Feinbaum took part in a panel discussion at the Furniture/Today Leadership Con
ference called "Changing the Game via Adaptation."
     Hall said she did extensive research on the HGTV viewer as a way of guiding the product development process. This research ranged from looking into viewers' home style preferences to their favorite rooms in the house and how those rooms were decorated.
     "These diversified needs do require a limber and flexible merchandising plan," she said, adding that knowing that information changes the game from a process of guesswork to a better understanding of the targeted consumer. "The majority of viewers polled are similar in their core values in selecting a brand, but very diverse in their tastes."
     Spilman talked candidly about the negative effects the recession had on Bassett, effectively shrinking order levels from $6 million to $4 million in a typical week.
     "The game got changed for us and we had to react," Spilman said.
     While he said the partnership with HGTV is still in its early stages, he believes it can be a positive for both organizations.
     "Taking a venerable furniture company and combining it with a media powerhouse, we feel that can change the game," he said.

     The line, which will include case goods and upholstery, will be launched next spring. It will be promoted with HGTV signage available to Bassett stores and independent dealers.
     "Because HGTV is 24/7 and available to 100 million households, we believe marketing is the key," Spilman said. "The idea is to drive traffic to our retail partners' stores and make HGTV a signature brand in the retail furniture industry."
     Furniture is just part of HGTV's planned product expansions, Feinbaum said. Other products expected to launch in 2012 include lighting, decorative accessories, wallpaper and live plants.
     "The vision is to be the number one ‘go-to brand' in home and garden products," he said. "We want to take the brand and some of that earned trust and help them (consumers) make an educated (buying) decision."

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