Functional motion can look good too
Cindy W. Hodnett -- Furniture Today, March 4, 2013
It's no secret that guys like gadgets, and motion furniture is the Holy Grail receptacle for electronics. But it's also no secret that women - the consumer gender demographic that makes a large percentage of purchase decisions - are not particularly fond of big, bulky furnishings, leaving manufacturers with the challenge of finding creative ways to incorporate elegance and electronics in the same product package.
One of the complaints manufacturers receive about motion furniture is that the reclining feature can be difficult for many females to operate, and this performance limitation resulted in the rise of power features. Today, as manufacturers continue to utilize the technology along with new product profiles designed to attract female buyers, they are also paving the way for motion to become a fashionable member of the home furnishings family.
"The addition of power equals ease of use, and it has been a real driver for business," said Lee Fautsch of manufacturer Flexsteel.
Although an easier-to-use motion product addressed function, the form part of the equation was still lacking for many female consumers looking at motion products, Fautsch said, adding that Flexsteel has created interest from women for the category by shifting the style of the company's motion products into a more contemporary style instead of transitional.
"As we added more fashionable colors and smaller scales, we found that women were no longer embarrassed to have motion products in their homes," he said. "Instead, they wanted to have them in their homes."
Klaussner Home Furnishings' Len Burke agrees. He said the appeal of motion to women "comes down to two words - styling and scale. Our high-leg recliners have more of a stationary look; in fact, some of the same merchandising principles in our stationary line can be translated to motion.
"And people want the same choices in color, so retailers can choose any of our fabrics for our high-leg recliners. More fashionable designs are usually not in the entry-level price point, but we're still talking about a recliner in the $599-$699 range."
American Leather introduced an upper-end motion line last year with a $2,799-$3,399 price point. Company President Bruce Birnbach said that improved aesthetics - visual and auditory - propelled the design of the line.
"We wanted to create something that women would love, not just tolerate," Birnbach said. "One way we did that was by getting rid of anything that clicked or ratcheted. We also created a look that is beautiful from any angle - there is no Velcro, no gaps in the back. And instead of all the usual black linkage mechanisms, we use one stainless-steel arm. We've had a great response, and our goal going forward will be to continue to make the line as aesthetically pleasing as possible."