Crunch Time

Dan Minor

She Doesn’t Have to Sit in it!

March 11, 2013

The great thing about working in the furniture Industry is the opportunity to be around highly creative people who are passionate about what they do and the products they produce. Having had the chance to visit and tour many factories that make both case goods and upholstery, the one thing I have always been left with is these manufacturers' pride in the craftsmanship that went into every single piece. It has also been very rewarding to speak to these true craftsmen, and realize that many of them have been doing this job for decades. It shows in their product.

But beyond the crafting of the products, the pride has to continue after the piece leaves the factory. It is the job of the retail sales staff to alert the buying consumer of the benefits and features of the piece, and to educate them on the difference between a $500 retail sofa and a $5,000 retail sofa.

Baby Boomers wanted to know these things. They wanted quality and they were not afraid to pay for it. Dovetail construction, wood-on-wood drawer glides, 8-way hand ties, 4-way flow match, and many other details that signify quality were the talking points on the way to selling to that customer. The Baby Boomer wanted to understand this because their motivation for a high priced Home Décor purchase was the ability to keep up with their neighbors in their gated community. Their home and its appearance were the way they showed their status. Today's consumer wants the same thing, but they have directed that desire to their electronics instead of their furniture. They want the newest phone, tablet, iPad, smart TV and whatever new thing coming out. The smartphone and gigantic flat-screened TV have become the new status symbols.

The consumer today is not as interested in the detail and the effort that went into making that piece of furniture special; they just expect it! They do not need to sit in that sofa to see if it is comfortable, nor do they need to know why a drawer in a case piece will not break down - this is the minimum expectation. Need proof? Just look at the tens of thousands of upholstered items sold on the web each year. People are shopping with their new status symbol and the topic of comfort and durability are not near as important as the style, value and story behind who made it!

So how do we sell our product? Give her what she wants! She wants to view a high-resolution image of your product on her phone or laptop, so she can consider this at her convenience, not subject to limited store hours. She wants romantic content for that piece to hook her into the purchase, and then she wants to know about who made it or who is selling it, to feel comfortable about her purchase (trusting a brand). Do what you do best; create a beautiful looking product as a recommendation to her. Be the creative leader and then present your product to her in the method she uses to shop!

Retailers and manufacturers must get out of the information age and participate in the recommendation age. Women now make up the majority of the workforce and the people graduating from college, but she is still the driver of our home décor industry. She doesn't have the time to do the homework and she expects you to do it for her with great recommendations to suit her needs. She is buying home décor products online, and as she does so, and more and more homes will be filled with sofas that have never been sat on before they are delivered to her home.