Good old boys, new consumers
For as long as I can remember the furniture industry has been referred to as the good old boys club.
Depending on who was making that declaration, it either meant you were "in," as in part of an elite, members-only fraternity, or you were "out," as in out of touch with the current realities of the day.
Having recently come back from the Las Vegas Market, my question, for those who still smugly count themselves as members in good standing, is this: Can you still afford the price of membership?
With each furniture market, it becomes more and more apparent that the way we always did things is no longer the way of today, much less the way of tomorrow. Ready or not, the new industry constant is constant change and the ultimate customer, the consumer, is in the driver's seat, pedal to the metal and is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
Oh, and a quick note to members who have promised themselves to finally getting around to reading Spencer Johnson's book, "Who Moved My Cheese?..." don't bother.
I'd be willing to bet that by now, your cheese has not only been moved, it was enjoyed as lunch by your competitors.
During the market, I had the opportunity to visit with plenty of exhibitors and I can tell you this: The companies that are making inroads in the market and are leading the fray are doing so by not merely being in touch with the consumer - they've become a torch for her. They are lighting the path with bright, bold colors, eye-catching designs and innovative products and programs that are in step and even a step or two ahead of where she's going.
Instead of selling furniture by the pound as one would with any commodity item, the industry's real innovators are wooing and winning her with decidedly non-commodity concepts such as inspiration, aspiration and realization.
And for those of you who think membership in the good old boys club is something that appeals to you, don't worry, they're not going anywhere anytime soon.