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High Point Market Q&A: Do supplier brands still matter to you and the customer?

Find out what market attendees think...

Bill Twelves"Yes. ...I believe it adds confidence to the customer's purchase decision. I think first and foremost they're buying my company, Olum's, but then there are major, well-known brands - Flexsteel, England, Ashley - that add legitimacy and confidence to the customer's purchase decision. It helps put them at ease. It's reinforcement."
Bill Twelves
Vestal, N.Y.

Irwin Novack"Absolutely not. The people look for the best value, and as far as they're concerned, Kane's is the brand. The one possible exception may be La-Z-Boy because I think they have brand recognition. I don't think any of the other brands have brand recognition. We've done research on this, and the research bears that out."
Irwin Novack
Kane's Furniture
Pinellas Park, Fla.

Oscar Miskelly"They do, especially in the mattress field, not as much in upholstery or case goods. Mattresses are white boxes to consumers so brands give them a confidence level in their purchase. I really think if you're not making your store the brand, you're really missing out on an opportunity to gain market share."
Oscar Miskelly
Miskelly Furniture
Jackson, Miss.

Chrissi Kriner"Positively not. The store is your brand. It's all in how you present it. Even though brand names are beneficial for advertising purposes, to (convey wide selection and) get people through the door, once they come in, they're buying from us. They're trusting our name to sell them the right product. They're buying into the store. Beiter's is the brand."
Chrissi Kriner
Beiter's Home Center,
South Williamsport, Pa.

Dennis Novosel"It's twofold. In certain instances, supplier brands are important if you can manage distribution. That doesn't necessarily mean exclusivity, but that the manufacturer is selling to the same caliber of store. When a manufacturer sells to a retailer that has a different structure - whether it's an Internet guy or a guy with a minimal showroom who only does special orders - that retailer doesn't have the same expense structure I have, so he can make me look stupid. When that happens repeatedly, they're no longer our vendors.... If (consumers) are focused on quality, they may search out a brand. If they're searching price, it doesn't mean anything to them."
Dennis Novosel
Stoney Creek Furniture
Stoney Creek, Ontario

Jeff Kellogg"Yes, because they make a difference to my customer. Our stores are located along the Rio Grande Valley. We have a fair amount of Mexican trade, and our customers will ask specifically for AICO, Bern-hardt, Lexington and Natuzzi, because they're shopping on the Internet. They're looking, and they like the style. They want to know if we carry it. I think they perceive them as prestigious brands. It may be their reputation or their advertising."
Jeff Kellogg
Lacks Valley Stores
Pharr, Texas

Keith Koenig"I think brands matter now more than ever. We've made a massive investment in a big partnership with Bernhardt, and it has taken years to make this work for both sides.... That's helped us broaden our assortment, and I'm proud to say the program is significantly exceeding our expectations and their expectations. It speaks to the value of that brand. Over the last couple of markets, we've committed to other brands (including) Lacquer Craft's Metropolitan Home. This market, we're committing to the Wendy Bellissimo collection at Legacy Classic Kids. At the end of the day, the product has to be right, but the brands help if the product is right. We believe in brands. All you have to do is look as Macy's. They've done a great job being the stores for brands that make sense."
Keith Koenig
City Furniture
Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Mike Huber"I think we're seeing our private label growing more and more over the years, but I do believe (brands) are important. If the quality is as good as a private label product, it could be a deal maker for the manufacturer's brand name. But a label with an inferior product isn't going to carry it. In light of everything that's going on, even for the salesperson, the store brand has a lot more credibility than it used to. And really, it's the retail salesperson, at the end of the day, who is going to push the product."
Mike Huber
Belfort Furniture
Dulles, Va.

Lee Goodman"It does but in a very different way. Sourcing is one of our biggest initiatives, firming up those relationships. So the name's importance to the consumer is not the reason. The reason (brand names can be important to the retailer) has to do with how these companies are operating. What are their principles and values? What does it take for both the retailer and supplier to be successful? I don't think it matters for the customer anymore. But it matters for important strategic partnerships, and all their nuances."
Lee Goodman
Jerome's Furniture
San Diego

Charles Liebman"For the older customer - that could be someone in my age bracket - there's still an appeal. But to the ideal customer, who is in their maybe 30s, 40s, even 50s, those brand names mean absolutely nothing. To them, a brand name is Crate & Barrel or Pottery Barn, but certainly not the old (furniture) names like Broyhill and Thomasville. The average customer doesn't know of Klaussner Furniture, but they're a terrific resource and they're growing in all their categories. One of the best midpriced case goods lines is Legacy Classic, and certainly (consumers haven't) heard of it either, but it's the kind of thing you can bring into the store and make your own house brand. Consumers love it. Our best products are often not any brands anyone has ever heard of or part of a licensed collection. There are maybe a few names everyone recognizes - a Sealy Posturepedic or a La-Z-Boy, but even there, people use La-Z-Boy as a general term for recliners."

Charles Liebman
N.B. Liebman Furniture
Mechanicsburg, Pa.

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