• Clint Engel
  • Thomas Russell

Group to launch The Design Network to engage female consumer

HIGH POINT — Furnitureland South's Jason and Jeff Harris have formed a new company to launch what they're calling an "all-screens network multiverse" to engage the female consumer in a way, they say, she's never been reached before.

The Harris brothers have teamed with Lance Hanish and Klaus Paulsen of marketing firm CNA/Sophis and Nancy Glass of Nancy Glass Productions to introduce The Design Network, to provide entertainment and instruction and build awareness of design for the home through "quality video content." Programming is expected to launch Jan. 7.

Founder and CEO Jason Harris, along with Hanish and Paulsen, have been meeting for more than a week with about 50 of Furnitureland South's suppliers to explain the program and solicit support - some video content, but mostly commercial lead-ins to the video segments, Harris said.

The idea is to build a library of on-demand content produced by "the best designers, architects, furniture purveyors, video producers and home enthusiasts," reaching "her through a multitude of screens, from the smartphones and tablet to computer monitors to televisions."

Harris said the venture is separate from his family-owned Top 100 company here, Top 100 store Furnitureland South, and that no retailer advertising or locator information - from FLS or any other retailer - will be part of the network.

"This will not work as a ‘retailer's multiverse' or a marketing ploy," Harris said in an email. "She has to come to know this as her network."

However, down the road, he added, "We think product integration could be an interesting feature of TDN programming."

Harris said The Design Network will used technology to continually personalize the videos to each viewer's interests and preferences, and that the segment lengths will vary based on the device she's using to watch - shorter segments on the smartphone and longer segments on a computer monitor, for instance.

TDN has a website at http://thedesignnetwork.com but will also be a mobile app, and Harris said he's also hoping to have it available though other channels, such as Hulu.

Harris said he feels the home furnishings industry does a better job of offering value, selection and service than ever before, but the problem is, "We're not reaching her. She doesn't know home furnishings brands anymore, and she's become detached. The pie is shrinking because we left her out of it."

Harris and his partners believe The Design Network will be the answer, and video is the right medium. CNA's Paulsen said more than half of Internet traffic today is video related and that will climb to 90% in three years.

Nancy Glass, TDN's production partner, is an Emmy-winning television host, reporter and producer who has produced more than two thousand hours of prime time programming, including 40 television series and 65 specials, according to her bio.

Clint EngelClint Engel | Senior Retail Editor, Furniture Today

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