Posts Tagged ‘nc furniture’

An armoire James Bond would appreciate

Friday, February 5th, 2010

Furniture Traditions is one of those companies I enjoy visiting when I’m at the Tupelo Furniture Market. It is pretty unique to our industry.

It has three sales representatives that cover the entire U.S. They introduce one or two new pieces of furniture each year. The pieces are interesting, innovative and always well thought out.

Furniture Traditions has three collections, works mostly in oak or alder and sells its furniture as heirloom quality. The furniture is solid and well built in the U.S.A.

They won’t have the biggest line, but their line has all the pieces and all the bells and whistles you would find in any other media or bedroom pieces, if not more.

When I visited the showroom this year, I heard the same pitch I heard the last time I visited.

“If you make the same bedroom for 20 years you’re going to get good at what you do,” said Tim Price, a sales representative for the company.

This year Furniture Traditions added a great piece to the entertainment furniture canon. Its new Flat Screen TV Armoire has flat-back raised panel doors, a jewelry drawer lined with velvet, a power strip, three-way touch lighting and two giant full-extension, cedar-lined drawers.

Those are great features in themselves, but in the cabinet, behind a locking flat panel television swing-arm that the company is seeking a patent for, is the real meat.

When you swing out the television, you’ll find a fingerprint activated safe, storage for six rifles and a locking cable to secure them, multiple secret storage areas and false cabinet bottoms.

I think if you were a burglar you’d have to steal the whole piece to get anything. Aside from smashing it, you’d have a tough time getting into its contents. It’s like a big safe.

UPDATE: Researchers say Consumers don’t know what ‘green’ means

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

New findings presented at AHFA’s Sustainability Summit
Heath E. Combs — Furniture Today,

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Green and sustainable product still faces an uphill battle when it comes to reaching a wide audience of consumers, according to new market research.

In fact, they’re still pretty confused about what exactly “green” means and aren’t dying to rush out and be green, said Suzanne Shelton, president and CEO of the Shelton Group, a specialist in researching environmental issues.

Shelton presented some of her recent findings at the American Home Furnishings Alliance’s second annual Sustainability Summit, held recently at the Proximity Hotel here.

The AHFA commissioned the research to measure the importance of environmental attributes in home furnishings purchases. Shelton also reported on related research her firm has done.

She said the AHFA study sought to learn what mainstream consumers care about and respond to in green purchases. The findings are aimed at aiding green marketing messages.

Shelton said that green is a mainstream concept and there is a broad desire – by 60% of the population – for greener product. However, consumers still know very little about what green claims mean and what to believe, she added.

The average consumer knows only enough about green to get through a cocktail party conversation, Shelton said.

“They can cough up a few things just enough to make you think, ‘Oh they know what they’re talking about.’ Yeah, not so much.”

She said that when mainstream consumers were asked to name a feature of a green home, only 53% could. That low percentage was surprising considering that low-wattage light bulbs, flooring from sustainable woods, and solar panels are mainstream examples of green features, she said.

“We’ve thrown a lot out at them today, particularly as it relates to certifications. There’s a whole alphabet soup of stuff out that that means absolutely nothing to consumers. So know that and know that it’s your job to educate them,” said Shelton.

Of the plethora of certifications, she added, the only one with high brand recognition is Energy Star, recognized by 75% of consumers.

For furniture items, 24% of consumers recognize Rainforest Alliance labels, followed by Sustainable Forestry Initiative and GreenGuard certifications, Shelton said. But 60% didn’t know any of the labels shown to them.

“Labels are important. Certifications are important. But we’ve got to have one right at the top again that is supported by a lot of marketing dollars,” Shelton said.

For the majority of consumers, companies that recycle get nearly the same credit for being eco-friendly as if they use renewable energy, produce zero waste and make green products, Shelton said. Consumers understand throwing bottles and newspapers in recycling bins because they’ve probably done it themselves.

“For the vast majority of consumers green equals recycled,” Shelton said.

There are also widespread misperceptions about product claims, she said, citing the terms “natural” and “organic.” Consumers would rather see a product that is “natural” rather than “organic,” but they don’t really the difference between the two, the survey found. Lower middle class income earners believe organic is a fancy marketing term that allows companies to charge more money

“What we hear over and over in focus groups is two things: One, a giant misperception that ‘natural’ is actually the regulated term, and ‘organic’ is not regulated. Which is exactly the opposite of how it is,” Shelton said.

She said companies hoping to market green claims need to understand their audience, and must realize that it will take significant marketing dollars to inform their consumers.

Green features, however, can serve as a tiebreaker in mature industries, she said. For example, she said that in facial moisturizers, if consumers are faced with two equal brands at the same price, sustainability features would likely help influence a purchasing decision.

In sofas, fiber typically is one of the top categories that consumers consider in judging a product, she said. That is good news for organic fiber, which at higher price points – say $1,599 and up – would likely help sway a consumer, Shelton said.

“Green features from furniture are important. It’s not most important thing, but it’s important in a tiebreaker,” she said. “And it commands a higher price point. So that’s great news as a marketer. It’s mainstream and people will pay more money for it.”

Shelton said many consumers also are confused about what’s bad for them. Shelton said 67% of consumers said they were concerned about chemicals in skin care products, but when the identified what they were concerned about, 48% identified formaldehyde, 22% said phthalates, 11% said lanolin, 15% said paraffin and 13% said glycerin.

Also, she said, 97% of consumers didn’t know that the biggest cause of global warming is coal-fired power plants and that most believed cars and trucks were the biggest contributors.

While green is important to consumers, companies have to “connect the dots,” for them, Shelton said. A trick is finding what advertising consumers will respond to and understanding that they won’t respond to guilt.

“Some of this environmental advertising is so holier-than-thou and preachy and so specific on the negative and what’s bad…. Most consumers don’t respond to that,” she said. “They want to see something a little more positive, a little more light, something that doesn’t seem like the entire future of the free world depends on them.”

Some of the most effective green marketing messages appeal to what consumers aspire to, messages such as comfort, control and beauty.

She presented examples, including a billboard for insulation showing a house wrapped in a scarf, which appeals to the desire for comfort; rain barrels mixed with flowers as appealing to a desire not to be wasteful; and LED lighting that beautifies a dark room.

Consumers don’t want to be pushed as much as gently led to green purchases, she said.

A misconception is that consumers go green to save the planet or to save money. Consumers make rational decisions and companies selling green features must tap into the reasons why consumers want those products, she said.

Appealing to consumers’ humanity or sense of what’s best for the planet and themselves might not win sales because people do bad things to themselves and know they are bad, she said. So consumers might voice concern on many eco-fronts, but don’t necessarily reflect that attitude in their actions.

For example, Shelton said when consumers were asked to name an item they would give up if it was hurting the environment, 42% said an iPod, 38% the dishwasher, 28% the microwave, and just 7% their car. Consumers don’t want to sacrifice convenience or comfort, she said.

“This speaks to just how important comfort means to our life. ‘I’ll save the plant, as long as I don’t have to give up my stuff.’ That’s how it reads,” she said. “If we had to choose between our comfort, our convenience or the environment, we would pretty much throw polar bears under the bus.”

Shelton said there are also multiple audiences for green product, so targeting consumers with just one message won’t reach everyone. The two major groups of green consumers, she said, are “engaged” and “mainstream” greens.

Engaged greens see themselves as optimistic leaders, up-to-date on current events, extroverted and secure in their feelings, she said. The group is likely to be purchasing green products right now.

“They’re going to experience things. They just want to want to get in the middle of something, to try it,” Shelton said.

Mainstream green consumers are less likely to be extroverts, more likely to go along with the crowd, like what they use, are brand loyal, don’t necessarily follow current events and think about decisions for a while before making them.

“They’re going to wait and see what happens,” Shelton said.

Messages with themes like community, idealism and altruism appeal to engaged greens, she said, while mainstream greens are drawn to messages focusing on duty, piety, reliability, proven success and logic.

When consumers have made an effort to purchase green products, like Clorox GreenWorks, it’s because the product is a low-risk trial from a well known brand in the same aisle as other cleaning products. Shoppers don’t have to “schlep across the store to the special, you know, weirdo green section to buy it,” Shelton said.

When asked why companies “go green,” findings showed that consumers don’t really trust manufacturers’ motives. She reported that most consumers believe it’s an act, while other believe it’s to make money or because of government regulations.

However, she said that a third of customers trust manufacturers’ label claims on why their product is green.

“So, I’m going to read your label and hope you’re telling me the truth,” she said.


Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

Winning Campaign Sets Standard for Tradeshow Industry

High Point, North Carolina—The International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE) has awarded High Point Market’s “Collage” ad campaign both first place and honorable mention in its 2009 Art of the Show Competition in the “over 150,000 net square feet” category.

Every year, the prestigious international competition singles out advertising and promotional materials that set the standard for the entire tradeshow industry. As such, the High Point Market’s promotional materials will be on display at Expo! Expo! IAEE’s Annual Meeting & Exhibition to be held next week, in Atlanta, GA.

The High Point Market’s “Collage” ad campaign and exhibitor directories scored first place honors in the Attendance Promotion Campaign, and honorable mention in the Attendance Promotion Brochure categories. The campaign and brochure were created for the High Point Market Authority last year by Emisare, a Greensboro, NC-based advertising agency.

“Collage presented Market as a multi-layered assembly of products and ideas drawn from many sources,” says Scott Williams, vice president, marketing strategy, Emisare. “In creating the campaign, we sought to portray Market as a rich resource that offers its guests a complete experience of the forces that are shaping today’s homes and driving their customer’s business decisions.”

“The home furnishings industry was hit especially hard by the housing market collapse of 2008,” says Brian D. Casey, president and chief executive officer of the High Point Market Authority. “Creative campaigns such as this one, along with the innovative use of communications strategies and technology, allowed us to hold registrations firm and deliver events that were inspiring, productive and rewarding for exhibitors and Market guests alike.

“Building on this successful strategy, we are currently developing new messages and incorporating new communications tactics that personalize our promotions to an extent that is unprecedented in the event industry,” Casey says. “Our focus now is on connecting home furnishings professionals with the solutions and resources they need to grow, as evidenced by our new ‘Connect’ campaign which positions High Point as the connection point where the entire industry comes together, with eye-catching graphics that call to mind a kaleidoscope, signifying the continual evolution of Market, and the myriad resources available here.”

 “We are very proud to have been recognized for this work by the IAEE, but even more excited that these materials contributed to Market’s success in attracting attendees during a time of extremely challenging economic conditions,” relates Keith Kesler, creative director for Emisare.

Indeed, the IAEE awards mark the second time the innovative “Collage” campaign has been honored with a major industry recognition. Emisare also won a Silver Addy Award in the Communication Arts national business-to-business category for mixed/multiple media for the campaign.

 “As we move forward, we are confident that the inherent strengths of the High Point Market, communicated by these innovative promotional programs, will expand our reputation as the premier selling venue for the home furnishings trade—and lead to even greater success in the future,” Casey sums.