By Carole Sloan -- Home Textiles Today, 10/3/2005 12:00:00 AM
It feels like it's time to take a real, hard look at the phenomenon that is sweeping across the home furnishings world — and home textiles in particular.
There's an epidemic of what some refer to as brands, but in many cases they are merely labels, names or once-upon-a-time brands that have suffered from old age, lack of parental care or just plain old obsolescence.
Whether it is the name of a long-dead singer from Nashville, a rough and tumble novelist or any number of young artists who view themselves as textiles and home furnishings designers, this business is being overrun by names that strive to become brands without any of the support systems that are needed to make a name or concept a brand.
Then there is the growing crowd of old-time brands that have suffered at the hands of their original or current owners. This group's members, in many cases, have new owners, and vastly new approaches to marketing, mostly focused on giving the name/brand to one or a select few non-competitive retailers.
It's boiling down to letting retailers have a name so they can trumpet “only at XXX.” The drawback is that there is little in either the sponsor's or retailer's budget that will build a brand awareness in consumers' minds about the specialness of the name and the products it offers.
And, as a new twist in this scenario, some long-ago favorite brands that have had recent relaunches to less-than-notable success as limited retail exclusives now are migrating to other retailers as a re-relaunch.
In today's retailing environment for home textiles, a new product or program introduction typically means a bells-and-whistles kickoff of some excitement level, and then a periodic price break promotional calendar.
It's hardly the long-range approach taken by brands such as P&G with its stable of major brands, apparel companies like Liz Claiborne, Gucci, Ralph Lauren, and a host of others that have marketing programs well spelled out and executed, and with budgets that transcend retailers' budgetary restraints that are typical for the home furnishings side of the business.
Unless there are major changes starting at the top of the licensing business as well as home furnishing retailing, the latest round of introductions this month will be mere window dressing, something for the seller and buyer to preen about within the marketplace and little in the way of brand building for longevity.
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