Do Brands Even Matter In The Furniture Category or any other category?
I wrote a blog called THE ARROGANCE OF IGNORANCE that everyone should read in this industry. The video of Don Draper's retort to a client that didn't want to change is magnificent. You read it HERE
OH, and that great new idea about licensing celebrities that probably no one knows, good luck with that. It's a cop-out in my opinion. Consumers do not like licensed products, they could care less - read more here
“Recent research from The Nielsen Company (Global Trust in Advertising Report, Sept 2015) identifies “winning strategies for an evolving media landscape” through online survey responses from consumers in 60 countries. Nielsen’s list and data detailing “Advertising Themes That Resonate Most” provides one of many eye-opening statistics. US consumers are big fans of humor (score one for Alec and Lil’); however, the study says that celebrity and athlete endorsements are two of the three themes that resonate the least”.
So before I suggest a few ideas for you to consider, you must address the elephant in the room: Your Marketing Department, it’s roles, responsibilities and overall contribution to “all your stakeholders”.
When I joined the industry, as an “outsider” who had a successful career as a marketing and promotion executive/agency owner, I was told that the function of the marketing person was to focus on the furniture markets.
OK, I got that, but then I questioned what my role was after each market?
I didn’t get an answer, probably because no one ever really had put much thought into that. The goal was placements and market penetration at the furniture markets which made total sense, but then what? What about sales velocity after all this investment and work at the markets?
The problem today in many companies is that the marketing person rose up through the ranks of the company and has very little, if any knowledge, what marketing a brand or product is all about outside of confines of what they know .... internally, or as an insider with no outsider experience. Sure they may have great sales ability and have great retailer relations, but do they have a clue as to how consumer behaviors affect engagement with brands or products on the final path to purchase? They tend to leave that to their retailers,“hoping” they can create the velocity necessary to keep their factories operating.
When I see titles in this industry, V.P Sales & Marketing, I immediately wonder how a person who has dedicated themselves to a successful career in sales, all of a sudden is a marketing guru, too? I’m not buying it.
I can tell you from experience, most of the brand marketing people I have met with in this industry are not marketers, not even close. I can say this because when I do engage the senior level marketing people, and ask questions about what they’re doing for their retailers, in-store, out of store, digital, the web and more, the results are less than disappointing and they have no clue on how simple marketing tools can affect the path to purchase for their retailers.
OK, I probably offended a lot of people with this statement, yet my intent is to help, not denigrate.
I've worked with several V.P. of Sales and I can attest, they really know their products, their reps and their retailers and how to motivate and engage them all. Many are/were rock stars in that position, but I have NO clue how they can be both a rock star at sales and at marketing....and be relevant and really good at both functions.
The role of a sales leader is a full time job, Managing the product, the sales force, retailer relations and so much more. The role of a marketer, in today’s economy, especially with the marketing platforms changing weekly as to how to engage consumers, is a full time and very difficult job too. I suspect the reason the titles of Sales & Marketing are merged revolves around one of two reasons.
Management has no clue what Marketing really is, or they want to have the title out there to look good and save the money on hiring a real marketing person, or both. Either way, in today’s world, using that rationale will keep you as an 8%er with the success graph pointing downward.
So think about it, with 30%-50% of all products going discontinued and the funnel needs to be replaced with new intros at markets, how can a VP of sales, focus on the selling attributes of the new/existing line of products, work with the sales reps and the retailers to hone the product, and then develop a comprehensive marketing platform with product messaging et all, for these products for retailers to buy at market? And then develop the plan to help them market/sell those products at retail?
That’s a whole lot of responsibility and knowledge required to be “successful at both”....almost super-human .... I wouldn’t want that job! To me, it would be like having a bad case of
Furniture Attention Deficit Syndrome – (FADD)
OK, enough lecturing, let’s discuss the main subject, Your Brand;
This is the first and most important idea for you to consider:
- Instead of you making your brand about YOU, make it about ME/The consumer”
- Research and embrace how consumers interact with “search” with “social” and “in-Store”. You’ll quickly realize they are very visual first, content/conversation inspired second, idea focused third, functionality fourth and all that is wrapped up into the “complete value equation”.
Consumers want to make their statement first, that’s why there are so many DIY home shows, cooking channels and more. They are immersed in I want to know and I want to do moments. Embrace that.
Your marketing person should know this and be totally focused on this aspect of your brand to accommodate these “I want to” moments.
With all that has been said, does YOUR Brand even matter in the furniture category?
My guess is probably not, and with what I witness daily, it may never matter unless you decide to change from being irrelevant to relevant so you’ll always be an 8%er for now, but possibly extinct tomorrow. Then you can join all the other manufacturers, retailers and jobs we’ve lost, you know:
The Furniture Wars, How America Lost a $50BN Industry?
Lessons learned from Don Draper
STOP THE INSANITY
Like my Grandfather always said, “You’ll never learn younger”, and we're a very old industry!
about bill napier
Bill Napier is Managing Partner of Napier Marketing Group.
He has been the chief marketing officer of several small, medium and large companies throughout his career, most notably Ashley Furniture Industries Inc from 2000-2005.
Furniture Today Magazine calls him an industry serial disruptor
Bill is also a featured writer and speaker in the retail industry. His vast understanding of the issues retailers and brands face to compete in the digital arena, coupled with his humorous interpretation of his knowledge of trends, facts and solutions for helping companies compete, makes for an engaging and informative session for every brand or retailer that attends his sessions.
His passion is to help retail brands & brick mortar retailers grow their business by creating, guiding and deploying successful marketing B2B/B2C solutions integrating traditional marketing with the web/social media.
"Bill Napier is also known to many of the RetailerNOW Magazine readers as the man who likes to “Rant” and we think that is a good thing…
Sharing frustrations as well as common sense solutions has been his M.O. for years.
Areas of expertise:
Business Transformation – Corporate Turnaround · Marketing Business Development · Brand Mgmt Competitive Market Analysis · Training · Customer Satisfaction · Staff Management · Product Positioning · Strategic Partnerships · Product Pricing · Trade Show Presentations · Customer Relationship Management · Competitive / Trend Analysis · Strategic Planning · Marketing Communications · Product Differentiation · Marketing Strategy / Execution · Online Marketing
Consumer Durables · Retail · Trade · Printing-Publication · Technology · Entertainment