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From Home Furnishing Business

AHFA Marketing Summit to Talk Technology

Staying ahead of how technology has changed the way consumers live, work and communicate, and making connections with those consumers, will dictate the agenda at the 2014 American Home Furnishings Alliance Marketing Meeting.

This year's gathering--themed “Marketing Reboot: Changing World … Changing Channels”--is set for Aug. 6-8 event at the Ritz-Carlton, Pentagon City, in the Washington, D.C, area. 

“The ability to see around the bend and anticipate changes in the marketplace is the hallmark of successful marketing strategies,” said Jackie Hirschhaut, vice president of public relations for the American Home Furnishings Alliance. “AHFA’s Annual Marketing Meeting will feature forward-thinking executives from both inside and outside our industry who will help marketers explore a wide variety of technological platforms for reaching consumers.”

Adrian Madland, a 10-year veteran of Google who works with clients in the specialty retail sector, will headline the meeting with an exploration of digital solutions to driving business. Based in Ann Arbor, Mich., Madland helps Google business clients integrate online and offline strategies using Google’s full portfolio of products and services, including Google Search, YouTube, Mobile and Display.

Also on the program is Beth Brenner, chief revenue officer of the new Domino Media Group, home to Domino magazine and, a first-of-its-kind e-commerce site. The quarterly Domino magazine has a circulation of 200,000 and a $12 cover price. The new Web site uses both original and archived content to inspire consumers to buy what they love without ever leaving the site.
Brenner, who was Domino’s original publisher from 2005 through 2009 and, more recently, was publisher of Meredith Corporation’s Traditional Home, will de-mystify Domino’s new business model and discuss the unique relationship between content and commerce in the new business environment.

Brothers and business partners Jeff and Jason Harris, both executive vice presidents at Furnitureland South, Jamestown, N.C., will shed light on yet another interactive retail venture, this one anchored in online video and a new broadband television network owned by the pair.

They recently launched “Space Off,” which airs on their network and offers viewers a glimpse into the process of “real people making real decisions for decorating and designing their homes.” The shows feature online product integration, allowing viewers to click through to view or to purchase the products they see in the video. 

Last summer, the Harris brothers launched a state-of-the-art Design Center with a range of sophisticated high-tech tools for the company’s team of more than 135 design consultants. The 17,000-square-foot center incorporates interactive televisions that enable several people to view product images and information together at the same time. Positioned at eye level in collaborative work spaces, the TVs have Internet access for viewing products, manufacturer Web sites and other online resources.  

Attendees at the meeting also will get the industry's first look at results of new consumer research exploring the generational differences among furniture shoppers--the latest edition of the American Living Survey conducted by Design Research Reports Inc., an AHFA Supplier Division member. It is the fourth “wave” of research by the company, which profiles how Americans are living, how their tastes and style preferences are changing and what they are seeking in future purchases. 

“We hear a lot about the Millennial generation and how big they are,” explains Rick Babick, president and founder of Design Research. “They are actually a larger age cohort than the Boomers. However, only half of them have reached the age of living on their own, and they are much poorer than the Boomers were at this same life stage due to the weak economy. Marketers need to understand these things.”

Additional presenters during the meeting include:
• Ann Looper Pryor, publisher of Landscape Architecture Magazine, the magazine of the American Society of Landscape Architects. In “Landscape Architects: Your Billion Dollar Sales Opportunity,” Pryor will describe how architects have become key players in specifying and purchasing furnishings for outdoor spaces.
• Molly Foshay, director of creative services for Sappi Fine Paper North America, a paper mill producing 1.3 million tons of coated fine paper annually. Foshay will address the debate about the future of print, citing independent market research showing reading demographics, emotional triggers, browsing and shopping behavior and niche marketing.
• Michael Beaulieu, director of business development for Wayfair. The nine-year veteran of the e-commerce site will talk about how Wayfair strategizes to drive traffic into brick-and-mortar stores.    
• Chris Anderson, Washington counsel for AHFA, who will provide a brief overview of key regulatory issues and their impact on the marketing of home furnishings.

Another highlight of the 2014 event is a “retail safari” to the premier home furnishings store in metro Washington, family-owned and -operated Belfort Furniture in Sterling, Va. In addition to a visit to the 35,000-square-foot showroom, the group will join owner Michael Huber for a wine tasting and dinner at Stone Tower Winery on the grounds of the family’s 200-acre vineyard.

Registration is $700 for AHFA members and $1,500 for non-members and includes an opening reception and dinner on Aug. 6; as well as breakfast, lunch and the Stone Tower Winery tour and dinner on Aug. 7; and breakfast on Aug. 8.

Registration is available online on the Events page of A limited number of rooms are available at The Ritz-Carlton, Pentagon City, at a discounted group rate of $199 per night. Those wishing to stay at The Ritz-Carlton are urged to make reservations early to ensure they receive the group rate. The group’s discount code is AHGAHGA.

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