BRAND RANT PART I: DO BRANDS MATTER IN THE FURNITURE CATEGORY READ THE ORIGINAL HERE By Bill Napier May 24th, 2016
Based on what I see and what I know, the answer is NO. Let me explain why.
I spent the better part of a day searching for information on furniture brand relevance, trying to find out if brands matter in the consumer’s path to purchase. Most of the information and research I found were a few years old, and that is disturbing.
It seems no one outside our industry cares enough about this $100 billion category to spend the time and resources to study it. I can probably figure out why.
Only a handful of manufacturers invest in brand marketing to consumers, so we’re invisible. We brand our category by a race to the bottom with a marketing mantra of 30%, 40%, 50% off everything, which gives us no credibility as it pertains to brands.
I’m still working on number three. I think No. 1 and No. 2 pretty much cover it, for now. In 2012, Google Compete did a study entitled “The Role of the Digital Furniture Shopper Path to Purchase.” It contained a couple of eye-opening statistics:
“65% of consumers were not sure what retailer to purchase from and were not sure what brand they would purchase.”
Shame on us!
Fully two-thirds of consumers had no “top of mind” brand they might search. Think about that for a minute. When you shop for cars, appliances, clothes, shoes or anything of significance that reflects on “you,” do you start that search totally ignorant of any potentially trusted brand or product?
I bet you don’t, because somewhere, somehow, you were exposed to a brand or experience that caused you to search for them again to gain additional knowledge and ultimately develop trust along your path to purchase. Yet our industry seems not to care about this, deeming this type of consumer purchase behavior, that all of us perform, as irrelevant.
But it gets better … I mean worse:
“Only 18% of consumers knew what retailer to buy from but weren’t sure what brand to purchase.” And worse still …
“9% of consumers were not sure what retailer to purchase from but WERE sure what brand they wanted to purchase.”
At least brands had a rating, although an embarrassing one.
So 91% of consumers have no clue about what furniture brand they sought, wanted to learn about or possibly purchase? And we wonder why we’re losing tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs, thousands of retail stores and more.
But there is some good news for you optimists, (admittedly, I’m not one of them):
“8% of consumers were both sure of what retailer and what brand they wanted to purchase from.” OK, so you’re saying this study was done four years ago and a lot has changed. I fully agree, but not for the good of our brands because, with technology, consumers can find anything they want in seconds.
Remember this about “the-research-is-old” argument: There are many more “connected” devices today than four years ago. Additionally, the average consumer has four connected devices, so the odds are that your brands are that much less relevant today than four years ago.
So what can we do about it? Stay tuned for Part II.
BRAND RANT PART II: IT’S ALL ABOUT THEM READ THE ORIGINAL HERE By Bill Napier June 7th, 2016
OK, so you've heard my rant about lack of brands; enough lecturing. Let's discuss the main subject, your brand.
These are the two most important ideas for you to consider:
Build a website that inspires first. Everything, and I mean everything, reverts back to your website. If it’s pedestrian looking, difficult to navigate and difficult to search, you are toast. If you believe in this new “minimalist look,” where you have a cool look with no substance, consider this: Less is Less. Consumers want to make their statement; that’s why there are so many DIY home shows, cooking channels and more. Embrace that.
Take a look at your brand from an outsider’s perspective, and instead of telling consumers what you think they want, ask them: “How can we inspire you today?”
Then inspire them with color and with design ideas; inspire them to imagine. Think about Pinterest and why it is so successful. It’s visual. It’s informative. It engages people who are in turn, inspired to buy.
Think Pinterest in your website’s design and communication because:
Remember, consumers are very visual first, content/conversation inspired second, idea focused third, functionality-minded fourth, and all that wraps up into the “complete value equation.”
Let’s discuss the “visual” elements of Pinterest. If you’re shooting that piece, group or collection on the cheap, don’t bother. We’ve all seen those types of room shots and had the reaction: “Not in my home.” And while you’re thinking about the photography, who decides what type of product shot should be represented: traditional, transitional, modern, contemporary? Do you shoot it as an item, a group or a collection? Do you shoot it with other SKUs so people can visualize how to create a unique space? The simplest answer is all of the above. You need to show multiple product images and configurations in all those environments to inspire consumers’ personal sense of design, or you’ll lose those whose inspiration is different than yours.
Think engagement for every lifestyle, for every life stage. Study successful Pinterest boards. Check out the interactions, the followers, the shares. What are the common denominators, and how can your brand emulate that? If consumers become engaged with your brand, the next step is: Where can they buy it locally? Please tell me you have a “where to buy” on your website … please, please?