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From Home Furnishing Business


By Bob George

I have just completed my semi-annual pilgrimage to the city in the desert, a  place created by the power of marketing and, more specifically, advertising.  It is somewhat ironic that one of our major marketing events occurs in a place that is our major competition for the consumer’s disposable income – leisure travel.  This is the number one answer when consumers indicated where they would allocate disposable income.

I realize that many of the visitors to Las Vegas are business-focused as opposed to vacationers.   However, the selection was motivated by the promise of “fun city” rather than a destination to conduct business while having some fun on the side.  No one anticipates that intention in High Point even though the Market Authority expends a great effort to provide some diversions.

Why does the consumer pay homage to the glittering strip that most locals avoid?  The fact is that it is the “aspirational” satisfaction that the consumer seeks.  This is the marketing genius of Las Vegas.  There is something for everyone.  From the time that one deplanes it is the noise of the slots and the oversized video screens that provide glimpses of the glamour that waits just down the strip.  Yes, Las Vegas lives up to its reputation as Sin City, providing access to gambling and adult entertainment.  Many may sample the fringes.  However, most are content just to be in the presence of the city. 

Now what does this have to do with furniture and advertising, the focus of this issue?  Simply put, Las Vegas has mastered the art of transporting the consumer for the moment to a place that evokes a perception of escaping the “everyday.”  Can we do this for the furniture consumer, spotlighting the excitement of the “reveal” when their customized new living room is delivered and placed in the home?  Just read the positive comments on the real time delivery surveys.  If we are honest, it is similar to the “James Bond – 007” feeling that we experience when we walk through the lobby of a glamorous hotel or restaurant.  That is marketing!

As it is in Vegas, this requires segmentation of our consumers, recognizing that each consumer cluster has specific aspirations.  We cannot mix aspiring needs with the more practical needs of low prices in conjunction with long term financing.  The consumer group that lives for the “deal” is a small percentage of our target.  There are many more consumers that aspire to a beautiful room or a comfortable functional environment.  The majority of our messaging, however, is about “What a deal we have that is over by Monday!”

What is the penalty for our not creating that aspirational consumer?  A Consumer Price Index of 71 compared to 100 in 2010 shows that we lost $32.8 billion in six years by undervaluing our product in the eyes of our consumer.  This is more than double our growth rate.  It may be time to consider an industry campaign such as “Got Milk” to communicate our product.  I know we tried this 25 years ago and failed because industry leaders could not compromise.  Maybe the pain now will overcome our individual egos. 

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