By Sheila Long O’Mara
Leather upholstery may just be one of the most technical categories on a retailer’s floor.
The varying grades of leather, as well as the growth in bonded product, leave consumers seeking the comfort and luxury of fine leather in a maze of confusion. The Internet — where most consumers start the shopping experience — is filled with information, and sometimes misinformation, on the ins and outs of buying leather upholstery. All of which require retail sales associates be given category specific training, have in-depth product knowledge and the dexterity to cut through any uncertainty consumers may have regarding leather upholstery.
A recent survey by Furniturecore of 535 consumers who had bought upholstery in the last 12 months showed that 71.3 percent of them embarked on their shopping journey by exploring online. Not only can consumers uncover styles and specific products, but the category gets extensive attention on what consumers should look for and consider when buying leather.
Shopping for leather upholstery tends to be a lengthy process. Nearly 33 percent of the consumers surveyed shopped between 2 weeks and a month before making their purchase. That’s significantly more than the 27 percent of consumers in the market for fabric-covered upholstery who shopped for that length of time. Another 18 percent of our surveyed consumers shopped between one and three months prior to buying.
Despite their diligence in uncovering the perfect leather upholstery, shopping for the category was not without its challenges. It seems the consumers surveyed wanted a larger selection of wares. Nearly 38 percent (37.8 percent) said the available selection of leather upholstery was too small.
Another sticking point — price.
While the industry understands the nuanced craftsmanship and detail required for top-quality leather upholstery, consumers aren’t quite as well versed in the matter. About 32 percent (32.1 percent) said prices of leather upholstery were higher than they expected.
When buying, the consumer pool was motivated by a number of things. On a scale of one to six with one being the most important and six being the least, product quality was at the top with a ranking of 2.8. Quality was followed closely by product design with a 3.1 ranking. Brand or manufacturer reputation was third with a 3.5 ranking.
No big surprise that most consumers were shopping for leather upholstery for their living rooms or family rooms. In fact, 81.5 percent — 47.3 percent for living room and 34.2 percent for family room — of them specified one of those two rooms at the location for their recent purchase.
Traditional and contemporary designs rule the roost when it comes to leather upholstery. Who can blame them? A rich, button tufted, nail-head trim sofa or a clean, sweeping sectional both add a certain je ne sais quoi to a room. The two style genres, at 38.3 percent and 36.2 percent, respectively, carry the bulk of our consumer group’s affinity. Country/rustic leather designs fell a distant third at 15.8 percent.
When it comes to specifics and drilling down a bit more in the style category, it seems consumers prefer overstuffed, deep seating to sleeker, tight-back designs in leather upholstery. In fact, nearly two-thirds of those surveyed prefer the overstuffed designs.
Good news on the willing-to-wait front. While today’s consumers tend to prefer instant gratification on nearly everything they purchase, about 47 percent of those surveyed indicate a willingness to wait four to eight weeks for a custom-ordered leather sofa. Another 43 percent said they would wait two to four weeks for such.
Tom Conley has been at the helm of the High Point Market Authority since 2011 when he was named president and CEO of the organization. During the past three years, Conley has steered the High Point Market through transition, funding battles with the state of North Carolina and continues to lead a continuing push to increase buyer attendance at the twice-a-year event.
Home Furnishings Business: How would you describe the changing dynamic between the High Point and Las Vegas markets in light of International Market Centers’ 2011 High Point real estate purchase?
Tom Conley: Extremely positive. Las Vegas has now positioned itself as a regional show. They’ve done a wonderful job with the bedding folks and the gift folks, as well as other niches, and been very successful at building those segments in Las Vegas.
We partner with them on a number of events here where their expertise makes sense.
In all reality, we compete with every market — Atlanta, Dallas, New York — that hosts exhibitors.
HFB: Has the Saturday opening had the desired impact on High Point Market weeks?
TC: The change to a Saturday opening was before my time, but it seems to be working.
There are some buyers who will always want to come ahead of an official opening, and there are some suppliers who will always accommodate them.
We don’t dictate when people can come to Market.
As long as the suppliers and the buyers get along and agree with each other on when they want to show the product and when they want to see the product, we’re OK.
HFB: What is the Market Authority’s primary focus for 2015?
TC: We have a couple of things we’ve set as priorities.
We’re diligently working on our telemarketing and cleaning up our contact lists. We’ve used an outside company to look for new retailers who have for whatever reason not been to Market. Our target list is in the best it’s ever been.
Outreach continues to be a strong thrust for us. We used three different marketing efforts. First, we partnered with Foundation Marketing Group out of Maryland, and they called folks who had not attended market in the past or had only attended intermittently. Then, we hired a full-time, part-time person to manage our internal call service so that callers to our office communicate with a professional team.
After market, we’ll follow up with first timers to see how their experience here was. We’re building one-to-one customer relationships.
We have to find creative ways to identify new segments. We continue to work with our exhibitor partners to bring in more buyers to the market. It’s a partnership.
The exhibitors are about 95 percent responsible for their success at a market. I’m continually amazed at the number of exhibitors who come to market and do no marketing prior to unlocking the showroom door.
HFB: Let’s talk Market cycles. Do we really need all of these markets?
TC: That is why Vegas is expanding into other categories and diversifying. Building owners are looking to other categories that make sense. It’s not for me to say whether we have too many markets or not. That’s for the buyers to determine and decide how many markets they’re willing to attend.
HFB: What will High Point Market look like in five years?
TC: The best: It will continue to grow and expand. We have to get smarter, like IMC with grouping like exhibitors in buildings to create better efficiencies for the buyer.
Some folks won’t want everything they have to offer. We’ll see growth in more areas to cover and buildings will fill up. We’ll spread out, which is good for the exhibitors, but bad for the buyers.
The bad: The economy struggles and the Market continues to contract even more. It would be great from a buyer’s standpoint in working the Market. From the aspect of getting to see the breadth of product it wouldn’t be good at all.
Our job is to cater to buyers and offer them the best product we have available.
Las Vegas Furniture Market’s summer edition doesn’t attract the buyer traffic of the winter show, but as a major bedding venue, vendors in the category there didn’t skimp when it came to offering customers something new.
Following is a run-down on introductions and line enhancements among bedding and related exhibitors at the July show.
Customatic Adjustable Bedz unveiled a new patent-pending mattress retainer system, Custom Clips.
The system aims to offer an easier, faster and more stylish alternative to the standard U-shaped retainer bar used on most adjustable bed bases
The Custom Clips system, which includes corner “L-shaped” brackets, side brackets, head brackets and foot brackets, is designed to reduce set-up time for delivery handlers, eliminate the need for tools and, most importantly, create a cradle for the mattress allowing it to contour to the bed base as it adjusts.
Like most Customatic Bedz products, the system is completely customizable and available in a variety of designs, colors and shapes, including “n-shaped”, semi-circle and a number of other options.
“We saw an opportunity to provide a solution to the clumsy and obtrusive standard brackets,” said Customatic Adjustable Bedz Partner Phil Sherman. “Our advanced system provides superior mattress retention that assists in helping maintain position when adjusting the base. We believe it is a revolutionary design that will dramatically change the way adjustable bases are presented in the future.”
Customatic also had private showings of its new, patent-pending Edge-to-Edge Lumbar feature, created to avoid the “tipping effect” in adjustable bed bases with lumbar-support designs.
Edge-to-Edge spans the width of the whole mattress, providing lumbar support across the entire sleep surface.
Buyers visiting Dormeo saw the vendor’s first “U.P.S.-able” foundation.
Designed to offer a product made with top-of-the-line materials, yet lighter and more durable than its standard base, the new foundation can be assembled and reassembled easily from the showroom floor to the customer’s bedroom. Potential benefits include cost-savings and secure, convenient and direct delivery.
Dormeo dealers wanted an easier way to ship bases. Before the new foundation, the only option was a traditional model that required “white glove” delivery to set-up. The new model’s lightweight, sleek design is aimed at online retailers, big box stores and stores that want to display a foundation for carry-away or “curbside” shipment.
The new can fit into a 14-by-14-by-81-inch box and features a sleek black and grey pattern, designed to match the company’s contemporary style.
“The convenience of a shippable product will be a great selling point for our customers, allowing them to better close the deal at the end of the sale and can increase the sales ticket as well as an added bonus,” said Jon Stowe, North American CEO.
Suggested retail price for the foundation starts $500.
Foam products producer FXI introduced what it called the specialty sleep industry’s first system to rank temperature regulation in foam products.
The Temperature Regulation Factor (TRF) will be used to communicate the performance level of each of the company’s foam offerings in its new TRF product lineup.
The TRF system consists of three ranking levels for foam products: TRF 2.0, 3.0 and 4.0. Products that fall in the TRF 2.0 range have open-cell foam with high levels of airflow for good temperature management, such as FXI’s Aerus and MemGel Swirl products. At the TRF 3.0 level, foam offerings are open-cell, have high airflow and include added heat dissipation properties, like FXI’s Gel-Trix. Products at the top-level TRF 4.0 category have extreme open-cell foam, providing the highest level of airflow of any foam product available on the market, as well as the added benefits of heat and moisture dissipation, encompassing the Maxperm, SilkLux, Aerus Max and MemGel Max offerings.
“Airflow and breathability has always been at the forefront of the discussion about foam products,” said FXI Chief Marketing Officer Diane Adams. “ … We developed a full product portfolio of temperature-regulating foams based on a consumer need—the need to sleep more comfortably throughout the night.”
The series includes three models—Xplore, Navigate and Grand—all featuring an upholstered, deck-on-deck design, and incorporating the latest technologies such zero-gravity positioning, wireless remotes, and USB ports. Retails start at $699 in queen.
The top model in the collection, the Grand, features a head-up/foot-up option with neck tilt capabilities. Its “Sleep Enhancement” technology provides Total Body Vibration, which helps lull a person to sleep and offers numerous health benefits. The base includes four USB ports, two on each side that act as a charging station for mobile devices. Other features include zero-gravity and anti-snore positioning, programmable memory settings, wireless remote with a flashlight, LED under-bed lighting and a wall hugging design that allows the body’s position to stay in place even if the base is moving.
“Through the years, we have seen the adjustable base category grow from being associated with hospital beds to becoming a true lifestyle product that consumers are embracing and demanding from our retailers,” said Vice President of National Sales Dan Baker. “With the addition of our Comfort Base Lifestyle Series, we can now offer our customers six different adjustable base options at all price points to satisfy their customer’s needs.”
E.S. Kluft updated its Aireloom Synchronized Support Collection with luxurious new ticking and border design featuring a dove gray Chinoiserie medallion; standard foundation or adjustable base option; and the addition of more natural Talalay Latex and plush memory foam in its comfort layers.
The six SKU line-up still features the same quality vertical and horizontal stitched side panels, outer tufting, materials and artisan handiwork for which Aireloom is known. Each model is hand-tufted and constructed using the highest quality organic cotton, Belgian damask fabric, silk, Joma wool, individually wrapped nested coils, and the company’s patented open-chamber design for maximum comfort and conformability; and Aireloom’s eight-way hand tied box springs.
“We wanted to up-the-ante and challenge ourselves to make (Synchronized Support) even more luxurious and comfortable than it was before,” said E.S. Kluft & Company President and CEO Earl Kluft.
The Synchronized Support Collection retails for $5,000 to $12,000.
Bed frame manufacturer Mantua introduced what it said is the industry’s first steel bed frame that a consumer can customize with multiple color, fabric and leg styles.
Mantua’s Express Yourself series, which includes the Express Yourself Frame and the Express Yourself Valance, features interchangeable inserts on the outer sides of the bed frame. The Express Yourself Frame is available with either wood or steel legs. The Express Yourself Valance, available in either contemporary or traditional styles, features frame inserts that can be individually purchased in 16 color options including black, white, off-white, chocolate brown, light blue and green, and wood grain and fabric-look styles.
Customized Point-of-Purchase designs are also available so a retailer or mattress manufacturer can print their logo or tag line on the bed frame.
“With our Express Yourself series, there is no longer a need to ‘hide’ the bed frame under a bed skirt,” said Mantua President David Jaffe. “The possibilities are also endless for retailers who can use the series to differentiate mattresses on their floors—whether it’s a green valance for organic bedding, a light blue valance to indicate latex, or another color to highlight a sale or promotion on particular models.”
The complete Express Yourself series retails for $149, with the individual valances available to purchase for $59 and the frames starting at $89
In addition to introducing new CEO Kurt Ling, Organic Mattresses Inc., launched five new organic mattress toppers.
The extension adds five new third-party certified organic pillowtop toppers to the already expansive collection.
The Verona topper features 2-inches of Global Organic Latex Standard-certified organic latex encased in certified organic cotton knit fabric. The Allura topper features 2-inches of GOLS-certified organic latex encased in OMI’s signature OrganicPedic knit quilting. The Wave model is the highest profile topper in the collection, featuring 3-inches of GOLS-certified organic latex encased in the company’s exclusive certified organic cotton knit fabric and a body-conforming sculpted surface to ease pressure points and increase air flow under the sleeper. The Wooly is made with 3-inches of hi-loft third-party certified organic wool encased in a hand tufted certified organic cotton cover. The Wooly Lite is made with 1.5-inches of hi-loft third-party certified-organic wool encased in a hand tufted 100 percent certified organic cotton cover. The line also will incorporate third party certified wool and cotton pillows.
“Following the success of the Certified Organic Mattress collection, our retailers have been anxious for us to add a line of third party certified toppers to the mix,” said OMI Founder Walt Bader. The certified organic mattress and accessory segment, following strong growth of organic purchases in the U.S. organic market last year, is continuing to experience sales growth significantly higher than overall industry performance.”
Toppers in the Certified Organic Mattress collection retail for $575 to $1,175 in Queen.
Pure Latexbliss debuted its new all-latex InteLa-Tec collection.
The collection has been designed to bring Talalay Process all-latex mattresses at lower price points to consumers that like the feel and muscle relaxing benefits of Talalay Latex but are indifferent to the “natural characteristics.” The Talalay Latex used in each InteLa-Tec collection mattress is created through a special formulation repurposed from the same virgin high-grade synthetic latex used in 100 percent latex medical gloves.
The three mattresses in the Oeko-Tex Certified InteLa-Tec collection feature synthetic Talalay Latex pressure relief layers, synthetic Talalay Latex support cores and are available in 8-inch, 10-inch and 12-inch profiles. The InteLa-Tec collection is priced below the company’s core Pure Latexbliss line.
“Our goal with the InteLa-Tec collection was to round out the latex category and provide a range of pricing options for consumers,” said Latex International President and Chief Executive Officer David Fisher. “We recognized that consumers interested in latex mattresses come from different points of entry—some buyers are natural-oriented, whereas others have different lifestyle and environmental concerns. “
In addition to the Sweet Slumber pillow collection—a down alternative without the price and allergy issues—Reverie introduced the Elation surround sound system for use by retailers as an accessory up-sell.
The four-speaker plus sub-woofer surround-sound system, is offered as an accessory for any foundation on the market.
Each of the four speakers attaches to the foundation legs with a universal mount that can be easily attached to the legs of an adjustable base or standard foundation to achieve surround sound for any bed. The subwoofer is specially designed to sit underneath most beds. The mounts eliminate the need for holes in the walls and can be easily disguised so as not to interfere with the bedroom décor.
The system features Bluetooth 3.0 technology, allowing consumers to experience high-quality sound streamed wirelessly from their iPhone, iPad, or other smart device from the comfort of their beds.
Reverie brought in tuning experts to tune the speakers’ acoustics and optimize the sound coming from underneath a bed to provide the best sound experience to users on top of the bed.
“The surround sound speaker system we developed was such a big hit at the last Las Vegas Market we decided to refine it and give retailers the option to sell the system as an accessory item, allowing them to grow their tickets sales,” said Reverie President and CEO Martin Rawls-Meehan. “It also gives consumers a chance to upgrade easily by just attaching the speakers rather than having to buy a whole new foundation.”
Suggested retail price for the Elation surround sound system is $400.
Seahawk Designs debuted a new headboard design for its popular Synergy System.
The Pecan and Espresso wood-finish headboards now feature an interchangeable, upholstered panel option that will be offered in a variety of colors and patterns, adding a unique, personalized design element.
The insert panels, which slide into place in the center of the headboard, feature a plain, tufted or box stitch design, available in an array of popular hues and fabrics, allowing the ultimate in customization.
“There is a practical element to our design as consumers will be able to change their bedroom décor without worrying about having to buy a new headboard to match, adding to the life of the product and upping the value to consumers,” said Seahawk Designs CEO William Jahn.
Sensorpedic introduced the “Super Cool” collection, five pillows, two toppers, and a mattress pad.
Each offering is covered with a unique, cool-to-the-touch fabric that allows a sleeper to rest at as much as 10 degrees lower than the ambient temperature of a bedroom.
The collection uses a natural mineral woven into the fabric to make it cool on the surface. Providing additional airflow, breathability and therapeutic pressure-relief, the cores of each pillow, topper, and protector will feature Sensopedic’s SensorFoam with Gel gel-infused, ventilated memory foam which uses gel support beads for a slightly firmer and more supportive memory foam feel.
“We recognize that cooling and airflow is still a major issue within the industry and so we are doing our part to develop products that incorporate the latest technologies into our top-of-bed offerings,” said Senior Vice President of Sales and Business Development Jeff Chilton.
The Super Cool collection’s suggested retail price for pillows is $49-$99 and for toppers is $249-$399.
Spring Time Bedding added a three-model, high-end tufted hybrid collection to its Medicci & Saville brand.
The collection features top quality materials at value price points, offering its retail partners the potential for high sales margins.
All three models in the Tufted Hybrid line incorporate a hand-tufted design that anchors the top quilt panel to the bottom of the mattress to keep all components solidly in place, prolonging the life of the mattress and improving full body support. The beds also feature a tufted pocket coil support system, which reduces motion transfer and improves comfort, with heavier gauge coils at each end of the sleep surface to prevent a roll-off sensation.
“Hybrids are what the industry is looking for right now—it’s become a buzzword for retailers and consumers alike,” said Vice President Sarah Appleton. “What hasn’t been seen yet in the industry is a line of hybrid models that looks incredibly high end and incorporates the best materials available today while keeping price points at a value level
Beds in the collection retail from $1,499 to $1,999 in Queen.
Therapedic addressed demand for products offering heightened airflow with the new AgilityAir collection.
The line, including three SKUs in visco, gel visco and latex options, is a new sub brand in Therapedic’s Agility collection that uses enhanced components that significantly boost airflow and comfort.
AgilityAir is made of a combination of high-density foams, cooling gel memory foam, latex, pocketed coils and varying combinations of mini-pocket and micro-mini pocket coils.
Each SKU in the collection is made with a convoluted reticulated foam support layer, which is 100 percent air-permeable and enhances airflow by 43-percent over regular, flat foams. One enhancements is the use of mini and micro-mini pocket coils that are wrapped in a perforated, three-way stretch encased fabric, allowing for even better airflow and increased comfort throughout the bed. The mattresses also include perforations in the side support rails to increase air circulation.
“The addition of perforations in multiple levels within these mattresses is really a unique technology,” said President and CEO Gerry Borreggine. “The multiple airflow-increasing components are exactly what retailers need to stand out amongst the competition, and we believe we’ve created the right airflow-fix for the bedding industry.”
King Koil reported its “best ever” market response to a new product with its new Duck Dynasty mattress line.
“We saw tremendous traffic from many quality retailers and experienced the greatest response we’ve ever had at any show to a single product introduction, the King Koil Duck Dynasty line,” noted company president and COO Dave Roberts.
The company designed the Duck Dynasty presentation—on which a new Duck Dynasty environment for retail stores is based—to simulate the typical grassy fields and marshland that attract ducks in the wild.
The Duck Dynasty beds, accented with the TV show’s trademarked duck camouflage, featured headboards with familiar sayings from the reality series like “Work hard. Nap hard.”
The presentation also included standing life-size images of the four key Robertson family members, plus a giant TV screen at the showroom entrance that presented new Duck Dynasty retail TV spots.
Also near the entryway was a Duck Dynasty-themed video game.
“Our objective in Las Vegas was to provide retailers with a reasonably priced line that had the brand excitement and pulling power to attract the millions of loyal Duck Dynasty fans,” Roberts said. “We came away from the market very confident that an RSA can easily open an entertaining conversation with a consumer about this product line. And the marketing support package, which includes traditional and online advertising plus dramatic in-store display elements, only make the process of engaging mattress shoppers that much easier.”
WRIGHT GLOBAL GRAPHICS
Wright Global Graphics highlighted DomeTec, a cost effective and visually dynamic alternative to embroidered point-of-purchase materials.
DomeTec can be applied to almost any surface, and features an embossed metallic look while maintaining a soft, flexible feel.
DomeTec can be developed as a brand label or an enhancement to any top-of-bed product. It also can be a replacement to an embroidered border. With an unlimited color palette DomeTec helps product stand out in a crowded showroom.
“From displays to top-of-bed to border branding, the DomeTec application draws consumers to a product with its dimensional qualities and ability to capture and reflect light in the showroom, creating a strong visual impact for customers,” said Senior Vice President of Business Development & Chairman of the Board Don Wright.