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From Home Furnishing Business

Will You Be Elected What Is Your Base?


By Bob George

We are overwhelmed with the election and this magazine will hit your desk right after the results are in. Don’t stop reading if you are like me - enough is enough.  However, there is something that we can take away from all the noise.  That is the matter of targeting. The winner is whoever secured success by appealing to specific groups of citizens whose demographics, lifestyle, and psychographics vibrated with the unique vision of what he or she want the United States to be.  Making political targeting more complicated is the Electoral College parameters where specific geographic areas require a combination of certain clusters to insure victory.


What does this have to do with furniture retailing?  In fact, the process is the same.  We often discuss why a national chain cannot successfully compete with the local merchant.  Simply put, the local merchant knows his or her customers.  The methodology used in political targeting can be applied to improve the performance of both suppliers and retailers.  The basic concept is quite simple.  The following graphic illustrates.


Each retailer or manufacturer must present to the market a set of core products that appeal to all their customers.  In an ice cream shop it is the vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry.  This product satisfies a significant percentage of its customers to some extent – some more than others.  For some consumers they eat only chocolate ice cream.  If that is their choice it’s OK.  However, other consumers will search for more of a selection, for instance - rum raisin or mint chocolate.  There is a small percentage of customers who will want a more exotic flavor and will order “bacon flavored” ice cream.  The challenge is to satisfy each of the consumers in great enough quantities to satisfy the business model. 

The obvious first step is the product.  However this is closely followed by advertising and the retail experience.  Our focus this month is the Buying Process that documents the different approaches by demographics. Statistically Speaking examines the much anticipated millennial.  The Coaches Corner explores the retail experiences the consumer seeks.  The challenge today is to present an assortment of products in the correct retail environment that will satisfy a large group of customers.

The traditional retailer is attempting to satisfy everyone - selection, price, and service. The competition from other channels, such as lifestyle stores target a very small audience allowing the message to be very clear.

Developing a strategy that serves the core consumer while attracting a more specific consumer can be accomplished.  We just need to focus!

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