Three to Move the Markets
If you want to know who and what is driving home furnishings industry sales today, there are three answers to that question coming out of the High Point Market this week.
1. Interior designers continue to gain influence within the industry as a most wanted customer and most effective distribution channel for high quality home furnishings.
I blogged about it before, but became clear once again in panel discussions held both at the recent Tabletop show in New York, which closed at the end of last week, and here in High Point, N.C., over the weekend, where two events dealt specifically with the role of the interior designer as a conduit for quality products and educational liaison to the end consumer.
Because of their direct relationship with affluent customers, they understand consumer needs and wants better and sooner than either manufacturers or retailers. What adds relevance and value to producers' affiliation with interior designers is their ability to customize, thereby multiplying choices and their flexibility and comfort level with color, fabrics and furniture finishes consumers are increasingly demanding to personalize the products they want to live with.
As a direct result of their input, the number of leading interior designers who license their own designs to producers they have worked with as customers continues to grow.
2. The evolution of Pinterest and OlioBoard within the context of social media marketing has opened up the home furnishings universe to creators and consumers exponentially. In a riveting presentation held here Saturday and conducted by Leslie Carothers, ceo of Kaleidoscope Partnership, and Jennifer Mehditash, interior designer and editor of the blog @decaptor.com, we learned that the combination of the two sites may well be the most valuable tools that have emerged in marketing home furnishings products and services on line to date. To measure the immediate uptake by the online social community, consider that within a span of 2 months Pinterest gained 26 million users.
Without going into more detail here now - I will in a later blog - if you are not familiar with either site, they are well worth exploring. The main difference between the two is that Pinterest serves primarily as a traffic driver to a participant's own site by simply communicating visual images of a brand - on Pinterest you don't sell stuff - but on OlioBoard, which gets down to specifics, you do. Since it's inception, OlioBoard has already become a favorite site for brand companies, such as Benjamin Moore and others of high quality - the quality being carefully controlled by the Vancouver-based company.
3. International sales have become a growing source of revenue for exhibitors of all stripes - sometimes generating as much as 50% of a company's sales or more. It is clear from international attendance here. There are Chinese and Japanese buyers looking for product suitable for their constituency. Buyers from the Middle East, Russia, South America and Southeast Asia are increasingly present. And exhibitors are responding by making language-capable representatives available to negotiate the sale.
More specifics on these developments in a future blog as well.