Here Are the Top Trends from the Most Recent High Point Market

High Point MarketThe most recent Fall High Point Market wrapped up on October 18, 2017, closing out five days of collection debuts, style presentations, networking events, and several other exciting opportunities for the home furnishings industry. This year, over 80,000 people visited the International Market Center in High Point, North Carolina, to survey the emerging products and styles that are taking the industry by storm. With the highly anticipated event now behind us, it’s time to take a moment to summarize the trends that dominated the Fall 2017 High Point Market.

Shapes

Several showrooms featured pieces with unique forms and profiles. These furnishings represented new takes on traditional styles and offered shoppers a fresh way to breathe life into the home’s major living spaces. Showcased products included many sectional sofas that deviated from the traditional L-shaped form. To change things up, brands including Christopher Guy, Lee, and Highland House presented sectionals with more gradual curves, sloping backs, and finer geometric angles. Some pieces, such as the Epidote sofa designed by Jean-Louis Deniot for Baker, featured an in-the-round shape, offering a unique focal point sure to facilitate conversation in any living room.

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Market attendees surveying the trends in dining furniture were likely to notice an influx of elongated, oval dining tables. While round and rectangular pieces have prevailed in recent years, oval tables are now adding interest to both casual and formal dining areas. Some, such as Hickory Chair’s table with ornate wood inlays, would be right at home in a traditional formal dining area. Others, such as Made Goods’ table featuring a smooth concrete surface atop light wood legs, convey a more laidback, modern aesthetic.

Colors

AkzoNobel, a trusted resource for furniture coatings, took on the lofty responsibility of presenting the official color of 2018. The firm selected “Heartwood,” a soft pink shade frequently seen in both apparel and home décor in recent years, as the hue that will dominate the home furnishings sector in the coming months. The color’s name refers to the dense center portion of a tree, which often shares the same hue.

In addition to Heartwood’s soft, warm shade, several showrooms at the High Point Market featured color schemes that revolved around complementary and near-complementary tones. Combinations of blue and orange, green and violent, and cream and brown dominated several product sectors, adorning everything from throw pillows to light fixtures. These unique color combinations offer consumers and designers an opportunity to add youthful energy to any room, in the form of vibrant and electric patterns.

Materials

Two very different materials have recently achieved growing popularity among furniture retailers and designers. The first, shearling, appeared in the form of upholstered chairs, stools, and ottomans from brands including Nathan Anthony, Mary McDonald at Chaddock, and Hancock & Moore. The plush white material is capable of adding either a modern flair or cozy vintage appeal to a room, depending on the lines and other materials incorporated into the piece.

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Concrete was also a common staple throughout High Point showrooms. The material frequently appeared, perhaps unexpectedly, in light fixtures, providing ample opportunities for dramatic contrast. Popular pieces blended the smooth, stark appearance of stone with soft lighting, graceful lights, and even plants, in the case of a combination table lamp and planter designed by Currey & Company. Going forward, shoppers should expect to see plenty of hanging pendant lights, table lamps, and additional light fixtures adding a modern pop of texture to rooms throughout the home.

Styles

A few noteworthy aesthetic styles appeared across a number of different showrooms. Many brands showcased a thoughtful blend of historic and modern styles by allowing wood tones such as cherry and mahogany to dominate their designs, placing the focus on the beauty of the materials themselves by allowing distressed details to shine through. Many designers took this tendency toward natural materials a bit farther, featuring weathered, organic, and handcrafted pieces that convey beauty through their imperfections.

Contrasting with this shift toward natural and artisan styles, several furniture designers highlighted the emerging interest in modern Scandinavian furnishings, which provide a light and airy appeal with clean lines and brighter wood tones. Furniture bathed in pearl and metallic finishes, frequently paired with stark angles, mixed materials, and accents of gold and silver, also filled showrooms.

High Point Market’s Trend Watch program, which offers an annual overview of the styles to pay attention to at each upcoming market, also noted a growing interest in dramatic curation. Increasingly, home décor selections suggest a desire for personal expression, whether on the part of designers or home owners. Innovative and eye-catching light fixtures, chairs, tabletop decorations, wall hangings, and other pieces are providing opportunities for consumers to make their home truly their own. Reflecting this trend, interior design schemes are featuring less emphasis on cohesiveness and instead showcasing unique pieces that, while complementary, offer a vibrancy all their own.

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furniture

7 Signs That It’s Time for New Furniture

While high-quality furniture is built to last several years, even the best-made pieces will eventually begin to show signs of age and wear. But when is the right time to buy new furniture? While it can be easy to get caught up in the latest trends, savvy furniture shoppers must balance an interest in emerging styles with the limitations of their budgets—not to mention the physical limits of their homes. The following are some signs that it’s definitely time to invest in new home furniture:

  1. Your furniture is uncomfortable.

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If your upholstered furniture or bed is beginning to sag, has developed lumps, or is otherwise uncomfortable, it’s time to replace it. Over time, the weight of continuous use can wear on a couch’s structural foundation, causing the frame and cushions to become less supportive. In addition to being uncomfortable and unattractive, sagging furniture can also have a negative impact on your posture. If you find yourself sinking into your couch a little more than you’d like, it may be time to consider how long you’ve owned it. Sofas last an average of 7 to 15 years. Mattresses, on the other hand, should be replaced every 8 to 10 years in order to ensure you’re getting a comfortable, restful, and healthy night of sleep.

  1. You’re buying new electronics.

Whether you’re investing in a new stereo system, a bigger flat screen TV, or the latest gaming console, you’re going to need somewhere to put it. As one of our main forms of entertainment, technology often serves as the focal point of the living room. Ensuring that your home furnishings are equipped to accommodate your new electronics will help you enjoy them to the fullest. You might consider purchasing a new media stand to elevate your TV to the ideal viewing height, new shelving units to hold speakers or gaming consoles, furniture with cord management systems, or gaming chairs specifically designed to help you play in comfort and style.

  1. You’ve noticed excessive damage, odors, or stains.

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Life happens, and over time, furniture begins to show signs of its age. Countless guests, moves, bumps, and spills—not to mention the enthusiasm of pets and children—can leave even the sturdiest of pieces looking tired and worn. Moreover, upholstered furniture can begin to take on odors after years of use. While you may be able to clean stains on upholstered furniture and mend minor tears, some damage is too extensive to be fixed, and completely renovating a piece of furniture can be expensive. If your favorite sofa is frayed, your arm chair is covered in cracked leather, or your dining table bears battle scars in the form of nicks, scratches, and burns, consider replacing these pieces with something less thoroughly used.

  1. It doesn’t work.

If a piece of furniture no longer fulfills its original function, it’s definitely time to replace it. Although it’s easy to get attached to a particular piece, once it begins damaged or unstable, it is rarely worth keeping around. Furniture that is no longer fully functional, such as a wobbly chair or a dresser with drawers that won’t open correctly, can not only make your home more frustrating to navigate, but may also be hazardous as well.

  1. The room feels crowded.

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While it may seem counterproductive at first, buying new furniture can often help you conserve space and organize your home in a more efficient way. Perhaps you might replace your current table and chairs with a dining set that better suits the size of your apartment, or purchase an entertainment stand that allows you to replace multiple bookcases or shelving units. New furniture can do a great deal to declutter a home office, where good organization can often transform the entire feel of the room.

  1. It’s outdated.

While it’s generally a good idea to get the most out of your furniture’s lifecycle, it’s sometimes difficult to deny that a piece is completely out of style. It’s important to furnish your home in a way that makes you feel happy and comfortable, and for this reason, furniture that has become unsightly with age is a valid candidate for replacement. Whether the culprit is excessively faded fabric or a pattern that’s a bit too reminiscent of a bygone era, consider upgrading the pieces that are beginning to show their age.

  1. You’re buying a new home or renovating.

Whether you’re moving into a new house or simply trying out a new wall color, visual changes in your living space are a great reason to buy new furniture. Purchasing new furniture can help you feel settled in a new space and begin the process of tying the room together. In addition, some pieces of furniture may not mesh well with the aesthetics of a new space, while others may not physically fit within a new or freshly organized room.

When replacing your furniture, don’t forget that there are a number of options for disposing of your previously loved pieces. Rather than simply throwing away that beloved old table or chair, consider donating it, selling it, or upcycling part or all of it to serve a different purpose in your home.

furniture

3 of the Best Strategies for Marketing to Furniture Shoppers

Due to the rise in e-commerce and the expanding role of millennial consumers, customer expectations are evolving in the home furnishings sector. Furniture shoppers are embarking on a more complicated journey that encompasses both the online and in-store shopping experience.

As a result, they are approaching their purchasing decisions with more knowledge than ever before. While furniture showrooms and sales pitches are playing a lesser role in the overall furniture-buying process, there is still a great deal that retailers can do to attract customers, exceed their expectations, and engender loyalty. Here are a few key strategies for marketing to furniture shoppers in the 21st century.

  1. Consider Emotional Intelligence

Klarna logoConsumers’ feelings and habits have always had a significant influence on their purchasing decisions, as well as retailers’ marketing efforts. However, the growing popularity of online shopping has made emotion an even greater determinant of consumer behavior. This is particularly true among millennial furniture buyers, as evidenced by recent market research conducted by Klarna UK. In examining the shopping habits of individuals ages 16 to 34, the firm found that shoppers in this demographic are far more likely than older generations to base their buying decisions on emotions experienced during the e-commerce process.

Both positive and negative emotions can influence a consumer’s decision to buy new furniture online. For example, Klarna also found that, in comparison with other age groups, millennials are five times more likely to feel anxious or guilty about how a purchase will impact their financial situation. Moreover, one in five survey respondents recall changing their mind about a purchase in response to these fears.

On the other hand, young adults shopping for furniture are also more likely to feel excited while adding potential purchases to their digital shopping carts. However, furniture retailers should not assume that an item in a shopper’s cart is a guaranteed sale. A large portion of shoppers, particularly those in the millennial generation, use their online shopping baskets to compare costs and create virtual “wish lists,” with many saving items that they have no intention of buying.

How can furniture retailers convince shoppers to finalize their prospective purchases? In many cases, a sense of urgency can convince consumers to take the plunge. More than half of millennials are more likely to buy an item to avoid missing out on a temporary special offer, indicating that retailers shouldn’t undercut the value of a good sales promotion.

By understanding how feelings such as impulsiveness, anxiety, and impatience can impact consumers’ thought processes, furniture retailers are able to provide more intuitive customer service. For example, in order to address the anxiety that some shoppers feel about making an expensive purchase, companies might promote deferred payment options to make their products more appealing. A retailer might also introduce a “try before you buy” program to reduce the risk of buyers’ remorse. By catering to customers’ emotions in such a way, companies will not only increase the likelihood of a sale, but also engender lasting loyalty among consumers who feel that the companies they frequent have their best interests in mind.

  1. Maximize Your Digital Space

If recent research on consumer emotions in the furniture sector suggests one thing, it would be that it is no longer sufficient to simply offer an e-commerce platform. Retailers must carefully consider each step of the customer journey and, in crafting their digital presence, examine how it will contribute to the overall customer journey.

Today, most shoppers begin the search for a new piece of furniture online. While a consumer’s first visit to your website probably won’t result in a sale, it is a crucial step in the customer journey as it provides shoppers with an introduction to your brand. Your website is often a consumer’s first opportunity to learn about your products, decide which brands and features appeal to them, and compare your prices, offerings, and level of service to other players in the market. With this in mind, you should prioritize the development of an engaging, informative landing page or online catalogue that provides a clear introduction to your brand. Your company website should clearly communicate what sets you apart from the competition, including delivery and consumer finance options that provide added value to customers.

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The checkout process offers an ideal opportunity for online furniture retailers to improve customers’ digital journey. Currently, it is one of the primary pain points causing difficulties for shoppers, who can become irritated by clunky and unintuitive processes. In one survey, one out of four millennials reported experiencing frustration with checkout processes that do not save their payment details.

In considering the online customer experience, retailers should also consider how shoppers are accessing their websites. Smartphones are gradually gaining on laptop and desktop computers as the most popular tools for online shopping, and furniture companies should ensure that their e-commerce platforms are fine-tuned for mobile devices in order to avoid missing out on business from smartphone shoppers.

  1. Optimize the In-Store Experience

Despite the rise in e-commerce, consumers are still more likely to purchase furniture at a physical location. They are also likely to compare their options at multiple stores before making a final decision. Therefore, it is crucial that furniture companies prioritize both their digital and brick and mortar channels, striving to create a seamless omnichannel shopping experience. Just as your e-commerce platform should provide a variety of information to prepare shoppers to make educated decisions while in a store, the in-store experience should reflect assumptions of variety, quality, and personalized customer service created by your online presence.

One way to accomplish this is to integrate your retail management system with your e-commerce platform, ensuring that all pricing and inventory information is accurate for both in-store and online shoppers. Furniture business leaders should also consider the amount of research conducted by today’s highly informed, digitally empowered consumers when training their sales staff. As shoppers increasingly enter stores with a broad understanding of a company’s offerings and policies, it is more important than ever that sales representatives offer insights that go beyond basic product information in order to help customers find a great value that suits their needs.

ashley furniture

9 of the Best Moments from the Most Recent Ashley for the Arts

Ashley for the ArtsEach year, Ashley Furniture Industries, Inc., hosts a celebration of art, community, and philanthropy in its hometown of Arcadia, Wisconsin. For three days, the town of just under 3,000 people grows by the tens of thousands as families travel from all over the region to take part in one of Wisconsin’s biggest charity events. Ashley for the Arts is a weekend dedicated to showcasing regional artists, enjoying award-winning entertainment, and bringing people together for a good cause.

Ashley Furniture has sponsored Ashley for the Arts since 2009, and the most recent iteration of the event was one for the record books. The 2017 event took place from August 10-12 and featured an unprecedented number of attendees and unforgettable performances. As per tradition, organizers hosted the affair at the 54-acre Memorial Park, which provides an expanse of beautiful, green spaces to accommodate numerous vendors, performers, refreshment stands, and other family-friendly activities. The following are some highlights from the 2017 Ashley for the Arts festival:

  1. Ashley for the Arts 2017 Achieves Record-Breaking Attendance

Ashley for the Arts is one of the largest charity events in Wisconsin, having grown exponentially since its inaugural festival in 2009. This initial affair welcomed only 300 attendees, but in 2017, Ashley for the Arts hosted an incredible 50,000 people. The largest crowd in the event’ history, this year’s audience smashed attendance records, surpassing 2016 numbers by more than 20,000.

Ashley for the Arts’ consistent affordability plays a large role in its ever-increasing popularity. From the beginning, event tickets have cost just $10 for the entire three-day festival. Sponsorship by Ashley Furniture, the involvement of several other corporations, and the support of the local community have all helped keep Ashley for the Arts an inexpensive, fun weekend for the entire family. The key facilitators of the event include nearly 3,000 volunteers, who donated their time and talents to make this magical weekend possible.

  1. Ashley for the Arts Raises Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars for Multiple Causes

In addition to being a celebration of art and creativity, Ashley for the Arts is also a massive charity event. Over the course of the weekend, the festival raised $425,000 for a vast array of children’s advocacy organizations, medical research groups, and other charitable nonprofits, as well as several regional school districts.

  1. Running for a Cure

pursuitofacure5kAshley for the Arts raises money through both admissions costs and events such as the Pursuit of a Cure 5K (and Miracle Mile) Run-Walk. Now a tradition at the annual arts festival, the casual race raises money for medical research and patient care, providing resources to help patients manage their day-to-day expenses while aiding efforts to develop cures to serious illnesses.

Each runner chooses his or her own charitable or research organization to support. The participants in the 2017 5K and Miracle Mile contributed more than $20,000 for their respective organizations, which included both national and local nonprofits such as the Arcadia Ambulance Service, the Rita Tranberg Memorial, and the American Cancer Society.

  1. Visual Spectacles

There was plenty to see at the 9th annual Ashley for the Arts. Throughout the weekend, hot air balloons provided a scenic backdrop for the daily festivities, and at night, attendees marveled at sky lanterns launched into the air.

On the third day, attendees also had the opportunity to peruse the annual Cruisin’ for the Arts car show. A treat for automobile enthusiasts of all ages, the event showcases both classic and contemporary cars.

  1. A Plethora of Family-Friendly Activities

Ashley for the Arts featured a vast array of creative performances and activities that provided exciting fun for the entire family. Throughout Memorial Park, guests encountered bounce houses, circus performers, magicians, acrobats, fire dancers, and even an interactive drum circle.

  1. Entertainment by Award-Winning Performers

Ashley for the Arts’ impressive selection of headlining musical performers is always one of the major highlights of the event, offering a medley of chart-topping hits from multiple popular genres. This year, the festival welcomed such noteworthy performers as Three Dog Night, Kip Moore, Echosmith, Gavin DeGraw, Montgomery Gentry, and NEEDTOBREATHE. It also celebrated talented local and regional artists including The Mondays, Big River Radio, Jackson Michelson, and Hope Country.

  1. Performances by Talented Young Artists

Ashley for the Arts also featured performances by the award-winning musicians of tomorrow. Several regional school districts showcased their creative talents at both the Amphitheater Stage and the Main Stage, where the festival’s headliners performed. On Friday, students from the Arcadia, Aquinas, Galesville-Ettrick-Trempealeau, and Hope Lutheran performed, while Saturday’s schedule featured several unique musical ensembles from around the region, including the Cotter Marching Band, the Cochrane-Fountain City Jazz Combo, and the Black River Falls Tintinnabulators.

Later, students from Galesville-Ettrick-Trempealeau’s Vocal Point entertained a crowd of over 30,000 on the main stage. In between headlining acts, the talented a cappella group shared multiple numbers from its recent performance at the international a cappella championships.

furinture

This Is What Ashley Furniture Has Been Up to Lately

ashley furniture logoAs the largest furniture retailer in North America and the top furniture manufacturer in the world, Ashley Furniture has developed a significant presence in many communities. The brand is not only dedicated to providing consumers with the best value on stylish and high-quality home furnishings, but also committed to giving back to the communities in which it operates.

In recent months, the company has done a great deal to support families in need while also receiving widespread recognition for its commitment to philanthropy and employee engagement. The following are some of the most recent news stories from Ashley Furniture:

  1. Ashley Helps Students Further Their Educations

A key aspect of Ashley Furniture’s ongoing efforts to enrich communities is its commitment to education. Each year, the company awards scholarships to help the children of its team members pursue their academic goals. It recently announced that it had awarded over $245,000 in scholarships to students who met these criteria and are heading off to college in 2017.

A total of 100 deserving high school graduates received scholarships under two programs: Ashley Grants in Aid, which awards a one-time scholarship of $2,000 to college-bound students; and the Wanek Engineering and Design Scholarship, which awards $3,333.33 to high school students planning to pursue secondary degrees in engineering or design.

In addition to helping fund the education of incoming college freshman, Ashley Furniture also facilitated an exciting learning opportunity for the junior high and high school students of Ashley employees. Over the summer, the company’s sponsorship allowed 23 children to attend the National Flight Academy Program, a week-long experience that offers students a uniquely engaging introduction to STEM topics.

During the program, students stay in a multi-story facility that serves as the world’s largest aircraft carrier simulator. As they take part in a variety of educational activities, or “missions,” students have an opportunity to build their interpersonal skills, learn to think on their feet, and engage with technologies such as flight simulators and virtual reality programs.

By allowing students to see through the eyes of a naval aviator, the National Flight Academy Program helps to introduce students to a variety of STEM-based career paths. Ashley furniture hopes to provide this opportunity to an even greater number of students in the future and has announced that it will sponsor 50 program participants in 2018.

  1. Ashley Furniture Contributes to Natural Disaster Relief Efforts

Ashley Furniture’s philanthropic endeavors extend far beyond education. Throughout its history, the company has shown a commitment to helping those most in need in whatever way it can. Recently, Ashley furniture teams across the country joined forces in an effort to assist communities impacted by severe hurricanes in Texas and Florida.

hurricane relief

In the aftermath of hurricanes Irma and Harvey, employees at Ashley Furniture officers, retail centers, manufacturing facilities, and distribution hubs have participated in a flood drive gathering food and personal hygiene items for individuals displaced by these natural disasters.

Additionally, Ashley furniture has partnered with local retail locations and relief organizations in both states to help families find stable living arrangements as quickly as possible. The company also plans to provide over $1 million in products and discounts to residents of affected states.

  1. Dr. Ronald G. Wanek Recognized as Philanthropist of the Year

Each year, the National Speakers Association – a nonprofit that provides resources and networking tools to a diverse array of public speakers – holds an awards program to recognize noteworthy speakers who have demonstrated a strong commitment to philanthropy. Named after the founder and chairman emeritus of the National Speakers Association Foundation, the Nido R. Qubein Philanthropist of the Year Award highlights individuals both within and outside of the origination, but the 2017 awards program recognized a longstanding member: Dr. Ronald G. Wanek.

The Ashley Furniture Industries founder and chairman has prioritized philanthropy throughout his professional career. Since establishing the Ronald & Joyce Wanek Foundation with his wife in 1998, he has channeled tens of millions of dollars into areas including education, veteran’s affairs, and medical research. The Wanek family is particular concerned with the fight to cure type 1 diabetes, and to this end, the foundation recently awarded a $50 million grant to The City of Hope.

  1. Delivering A Good Night’s Sleep to Kids in Three States

Since 2010, Ashley Furniture’s Hope to Dream program has provided mattresses, bed frames, and bedding to children who do not have beds of their own. Recognizing that a safe and comfortable place to sleep is vital to children’s overall health and happiness, Ashley partners with local sports teams and nonprofit organizations to host Hope to Dream celebrations at stadiums and ballparks.

kids bed

In addition to providing children with their own beds, these fun-filled days also include plenty of snacks, exciting activities, and opportunities to hang out – and even dance – with star athletes. Over the summer, Ashley partnered with sports organizations including the Clearwater Threshers, Nashville Sounds, and Gwinnett Braves to give children in Florida, Tennessee, and Georgia an incredibly special day at the ballpark.

  1. Ashley Furniture Named One of America’s Best Workplaces

Once per year, Forbes partners with research firm Statista to assess the vast landscape of American workplaces. In their most recent study, the organizations surveyed 30,000 workers to glean which employers offer the greatest value to their employees. Forbes’ 2017 list of America’s Best Employers includes Ashley Furniture, which has been committed to employee development and engagement since its founding in 1970.

As the company has grown from a single 35-employee manufacturing facility to a global enterprise comprising over 26,000 people, Ashley furniture has continued to support the continued professional growth of its team members. As described by president and CEO Todd Wanek, “Our employees are the heartbeat of our organization.” This is demonstrated in the company’s financial investments in its employees; in recent years, it has channeled over $1 billion into employee development, particularly efforts to engage and empower employees with technology.

children's furniture

Here Are the Trends to Watch in Children’s Furniture

Parents have a great deal to consider when designing their child’s bedroom or nursery. Price, style, safety, and functionality are just a few of the factors that come into play when creating a space for a new addition to the family or transforming an older child’s bedroom. While style trends have long dictated purchases for other rooms in the home, consumers are increasingly turning to style guides to create comfortable, engaging, and practical bedrooms for their kids.

The following are some of the most noteworthy trends currently influencing buying habits in the children’s furniture sector:

  1. Going Green

In recent years, a growing sense of environmental stewardship has impacted both business practices and consumer preferences across a number of industries. This is especially true in the home furnishings industry, where responsible product sourcing and production can go a long way in reducing a company’s environmental impact.

When planning rooms for children, furniture buyers are increasingly seeking the assurance that they are buying from sustainable, ecologically responsible companies. In addition to seeking pieces that have a minimal impact on the environment, parents are also concerned with the effects that furniture materials and manufacturing processes may have on the health and safety of their families. As a result, products that carry organic and non-toxic certifications are becoming more popular, as are furnishings and textiles made of all-natural materials.

  1. Vivid Hues

children's room

Bright colors have always been a popular staple for children’s rooms, adding fun, excitement, and character to the spaces where they sleep and play. While colors were often dependent on gender in the past, recent decades have seen parents move away from the obligatory pinks and blues to focus on vibrant shades such as purple, yellow, green, and orange. This is opening the door to new possibilities for themed design schemes that can be altered to fit kids’ unique interests and personalities.

  1. Neutral Tones

While bold colors prevail in the realm of kids’ décor, neutral shades have recently emerged as a way to add a sense of calm to otherwise loud, colorful spaces. Many parents are choosing chic black and white themes for their nurseries, while grey has emerged as a popular color for kids of all ages. At the same time, white has also become a more popular shade for walls, furniture, and floor coverings. All of these neutral hues allow parents to add subtle yet vibrant pops of color through bedding, lighting, toys, and other accents. The result is a visually pleasing, on-trend room that appears organized and sophisticated, and coordinates more easily with the rest of the home.

  1. Abstract Patterns

children's room

Prints and patterns have always been a popular way to add energy and character to children’s rooms. While classic prints like stripes and polka dots are still going strong, more abstract designs are beginning to add a whimsical flair to rooms for both young children and teens. These patterns often have a hand-drawn appearance that lends itself to lively design schemes and mixes well with other patterns. Whether squiggles, geometric shapes, or playful drawings, these unique prints are livening up everything from bedding to shelving units.

  1. Timeless Styles

As the American furniture industry surged back to life following the recent economic recession, companies found themselves catering to consumers with different budget needs. As families continue to seek cost-efficient children’s furniture items that are durable as well as affordable, they are choosing styles that can evolve with their child as he or she ages. Resilient materials like hardwood and metal, vintage motifs, and simple, understated colors and patterns can combine to create rooms that can easily grow with children, rather than appearing childish or outdated during their teenage years.

  1. Unique Accent Walls

children's roomAs neutral tones become more popular in children’s furniture and décor, parents are adding bursts of color in unexpected ways. One persistent trend is the use of uniquely patterned wallpaper to add excitement and depth to a room. While the use of wallpaper throughout an entire bedroom has fallen out of favor, using wallpaper to spice up one or two accent walls is an extremely popular trend. Many families are also extending this idea to the ceiling.

  1. Scandinavian Chic

As families look for new ways to combine comfort, style, and functionality in children’s spaces, Scandinavian-inspired designs are increasingly popular, as they have been in other rooms of the home. Marked by clean lines, simple colors, geometric patterns, and whimsical charm, the aesthetic works well in modern children’s rooms. Many brands offer the added benefit of organic, eco-friendly materials as well. In addition, products often combine storage and décor in one package, using beautiful design to improve function.

brand

The Best Ways to Encourage and Reward Customer Loyalty

Each American household has, on average, 29 memberships with retail loyalty programs. This amounts to astonishing 3.3 billion loyalty program memberships throughout the country. However, despite the popularity of customer loyalty initiatives among both businesses and consumers, the furniture industry has traditionally dedicated fewer resources than other sectors to this area.

furniture

For many furniture companies, the matter of customer loyalty seems irrelevant. Leaders assume that customers will return in five years, or the average amount of time it takes for them to need a new piece of furniture. But companies that disregard the potential benefit of customer loyalty may be missing out on a huge opportunity.

Northwestern University’s Center for Retail Management estimates that between 12 and 15 percent of all customers are loyal to a specific company. However, this small portion of consumers can generate between 55 and 70 percent of a company’s total revenue.

Furniture business leaders cannot afford to ignore the impact that customer loyalty has on their sales performance, marketing efforts, and overall company image. The following are some key considerations for furniture executives seeking to weave loyalty into the fabric of their corporate strategies:

  1. Understand the value of loyal customers.

Loyal customers can be one of a company’s strongest assets. But while their repeated engagements with a business will have an obvious positive impact on a firm’s bottom line, returning customers present a benefit far beyond their own purchases.

Customers who frequent your brand are more likely to sing its praises to their friends and family members, often providing a more directly relatable recommendation than corporate advertising. In addition to helping to attract new customers, your most loyal shoppers are also likely to help educate customers on your products and services.

A strong sense of customer loyalty can also aid your ongoing efforts to improve your company. Customers who frequently engage with your brand will be more qualified and motivated to share honest, detailed feedback about the strong and weak points of your current operations.

These consumers not only possess the most first-hand experience with your products, they also stand to benefit from any future improvements that you implement. Business leaders should target these customers when launching consumer surveys, focus groups, or product demos. However, they must first learn to recognize the customers who are most loyal to their brands.

  1. Identify your super-users.

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A cross-industry term referring to the customers who do the most to invest in, promote, and engage with your brand, super-users are the consumers you should focus on first if you are making customer loyalty a strategic priority. By promoting your brand, onboarding new customers, and providing vital feedback, these highly-engaged customers do a great deal to support your sales and marketing efforts. Additionally, they are often instrumental in creating the perception of a company culture of personalized service and customer engagement.

Not every customer will be a super-user, but it is imperative that business leaders determine exactly who these star customers are. You should examine the customer demographics and behaviors that seem to prevail among your most loyal customers. Using this information, determine the qualities of your company that are most effective at attracting and retaining customers.

  1. Study the rise of the membership economy.

One indication of the significance of customer loyalty is the emergence of the membership economy. Increasingly, companies are basing their business models around customer-centric promotional strategies that draw on incentives and a sense of community to attract and retain their customers.

One example of this is CrossFit, a fitness company that organizes its members into small workout groups. Each day, members all around the world meet to perform the same workout, pushing each other to reach their goals and exceed their expectations. In this way, the sense of inclusiveness provided by CrossFit’s supportive teams serves as a promotional tool in and of itself.

It may be difficult for a product-focused enterprise such as a furniture company to center its operations on customer engagement in a similar fashion as a fitness club. However, there are multiple ways for furniture business leaders to work to improve customer loyalty. One common strategy is the implementation of a loyalty program.

When creating a customer loyalty program, you may choose to create a traditional reward program that awards credit based on a customer’s buying habits. Alternatively, you may opt to create a VIP membership that affords consumers special discounts for a one-time or annual membership fee.

Although a VIP membership program may be attractive due to the additional revenue a company can bring on with each new sign-up, the success of such a program may be limited depending on your market. Keep in mind that customers are unlikely to join two similar VIP clubs for companies selling similar projects. For this reason, it is important to make customer loyalty a key priority to gain an advantage over less timely competitors.

marketing

5 Tips That Will Help You Create An Excellent Brand

Developing a clear, consistent, and—above all—memorable brand is one of the most challenging tasks facing business leaders today. In order to gain customers’ attention and present them with an attractive value proposition, companies must develop a well-formed identity that clearly communicates how they intend to improve customers’ lives. Following are some steps that business leaders must take to create or hone the image of their brand:

  1. Know your identity.

Before you can present a robust brand image to the furniture-buying population, you must first develop a firm understanding of your company’s brand identity. A brand identity should include not only the products and services that you provide, but also the ideals and causes that you support through your operations.

business branding

In the early stages of brand development, it can be helpful to draft a company mission statement that defines your organization’s goals and values. This can help to ensure that you do not stray too far from your original business objectives and help to guide you in your efforts to provide unique, high-quality products to consumers.

While expanding upon your company’s brand identity, you should focus not only on its goals, but also its capabilities. Keeping in mind your resources and market niche, you should examine the strengths and challenges facing your brand. This can help you to identify opportunities for improvement going forward, including areas where your brand can benefit from partnerships. However, while working to maintain a consistent and attractive brand identity, you must also ensure that you only associate your company with organizations that complement and elevate your own brand.

  1. Understand your market.

In order to separate your brand from the competition, you must become aware of where you stand in the broader furniture market. Business leaders must make a habit of researching news, trends, and consumer tastes in their industries in order to identity both risks and opportunities. This should include aesthetic trends throughout the furniture and interior design sectors, as well as emerging best practices throughout the furniture manufacturing and distribution sectors.

With a strong knowledge of current market trends, furniture business leaders can develop an understanding of their own offerings as compared with those of their competitors. This will allow them to take advantage of gaps in the current industry, focus on their unique areas of expertise, and become trusted advisors in a particular market niche. While honing their industry knowledge, business leaders in the home furnishings industry should also provide professional development opportunities for sales representatives and other employees at their companies. They should also embrace customer service as a core value.

While independent research can provide a great deal of insight to business leaders seeking to develop and promote their brands, one of the best ways to begin crafting a strong company image is to determine how consumers view your organization. Consider facilitating customer surveys or focus groups to glean customer opinions, and pay attention to engagements on social media websites and customer review platforms to gain a better understanding of your customers’ praise and concerns.

  1. Be honest.

In many cases, companies attempt to promote their brands solely based on consumer trends and expectations, merely presenting what they believe customers would like to see rather than what they are capable of offering. When developing your image, take care to avoid creating false expectations. While this may attract customers initially, a failure to live up to your own promises will negatively impact your image in the long run.

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Instead, you should strive to make authenticity one of the core qualities of your brand. This means not only being honest about your brand’s positive attributes and offerings, but also being forthcoming in regards to your own shortcomings while actively seeking ways to remedy and prevent them.

  1. Hone your communication skills.

After you’ve spent a considerable amount of time pinpointing your company’s values, strengths, weaknesses, and target demographic, you must make the most of these efforts by clearly communicating your brand. In order to be noticed and remembered, the visual representation of your brand should be thoughtfully designed, consistent, and representative of your ideals and expertise, while written communication should reflect a similar tone and value proposition. Brand representations—from the name of your company to the colors that use on your website—should be a cohesive and coherent reflection of your overall identity as a company.

Developing positive relationships with customers should be a core goal of your company’s communications. Your promotional efforts should help customers understand how your brand can meet their specific needs, in addition to clarifying what sets your company apart from the competition. You could also consider offering value via your branded communications with content such as educational blog posts, podcasts, social media pages, or incentive-based communications such as referral programs. At the same time, you should be receptive to feedback from consumers and provide ample opportunities for your customers to share their opinions and engage with your brand.

  1. Focus on quality.

A high-quality product or service is one of the strongest promotional tools. You should ensure that you provide the same quality that you promise to customers and strive to exceed their expectations. This does not necessitate providing “premium” products or services or operating outside of your normal realm of expertise. Ensuring that your products, processes, and employees create an excellent customer experience will make it clear that your brand is trustworthy and help to engender lasting customer loyalty.

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5 Things to Expect at the Upcoming High Point Market

High Point MarketTwice each year, the High Point Market sends a surge of excitement throughout the home furnishings industry. The biannual home furnishings and décor expo is a staple on the calendars of leading retailers, designers, and manufacturers, who are all gearing up for the next fall market, scheduled for October 14 to 18, 2017.

Previous High Point Markets have featured an extensive selection of new product introductions, professional development opportunities, engaging style presentations, and more. The upcoming event will be no exception—read on to find out what’s in store for guests at the 2017 Fall High Point Market.

  1. An Expansive International Event

High Point Market is the largest home furnishings trade show in the world, welcoming over 75,000 attendees to its showrooms twice per year. The event brings visitors from more than 100 countries to High Point, North Carolina, and at each market, approximately 10 percent of those in attendance travel from outside the United States.

Located about 70 miles north of Charlotte, High Point’s downtown district transforms to accommodate an unrivaled selection of home furnishings showrooms. Spanning 180 buildings, the High Point Market’s exhibitors fill 11.5 million square feet of showroom space. Each market features over 2,000 exhibitors, presenting opportunities for guests to see tens of thousands of new products.

  1. Numerous New Products

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Each High Point Market presents an opportunity for furniture retailers and designers to unveil their newest creations to an extremely broad audience. For the 2017 fall show, the High Point Market Authority will team up with several experts in home furnishings design for the latest iteration of its New Product Premiere program. Developed to help market attendees navigate the myriad of new products and style trends that will be on display during the show, the New Product Premiere program will feature exciting new content shared across the High Point Market’s social media profiles. Following an initial Twitter Chat on August 30, market organizers and Style Spotters will fill the weeks leading up to the fall market with exclusive product previews shared on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

The market will also feature a number of special events making the launch of new collections by leading home furnishings companies. For example, day one of the event will include an elegant cocktail party hosted by High Point Market Title Sponsor Lexington Home Brands. Here, the high-end retailer will debut its latest indoor, outdoor, and lifestyle products, including its new lifestyle collection by designer Barclay Butera.

  1. A Sneak Peek at Emerging Trends

As market attendees view newly released products from the most influential designers in the home furnishings industry, they will likely notice several colors, shapes, patterns, and materials that seem to dominate each showroom floor. The High Point Market Authority has organized multiple programs to guide attendees as they explore the latest trends influencing home furnishings.

For several years, the High Point Market Style Spotters have enhanced the market experience by providing expert insights on the looks and pieces that dominate each event. Comprised of several pairs of leading designers from trendy brands including Ishka Designs and Parker Kennedy Living, the Style Spotters are responsible for the events and presentations that pinpoint each market’s prevailing style trends. For the fall 2017 show, this group of home décor experts will host Style Spotters Live, a panel discussion showcasing the top products and trends from the showroom floor. Following this event, each team of Style Spotters will lead market attendees on an exclusive tour of their favorite showrooms.

Market attendees will also have a chance to glimpse the style trends of the future with a program hosted in partnership with Fashion Snoops. Over the course of the market, the trend forecasting agency will facilitate pop-up booths, a digital trend report, and a buyer’s guide to help guests navigate trends. This unique program will begin a day before the official market launch with a presentation entitled, “Culture to Product, A Forward Look into Spring 2018 Market Trends.”

  1. Insightful Speaking Engagements

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At High Point Market, furniture industry professionals will find no shortage of opportunities to learn from some of most influential entrepreneurial and creative minds in the business. This fall’s keynote series will feature a presentation from Paula Wallace, the founding president of the Savannah College of Art and Design, who will explore the many ways in which design can enhance and transform communities. In addition, guests will hear a keynote address from Drew and Jonathan Scott, the widely recognizable stars of HGTV’s Property Brothers. Also the founders of Scott Living, Drew and Jonathan will offer insight into the value that meticulousness can offer your business in a presentation titled, “Big Picture, Small Details: Why We Sweat The Small Stuff.”

Besides the keynote series, attendees can also broaden their horizons during multiple educational sessions within the Design Viewpoints Series. Designed to provide quality professional development opportunities for designers, these engagements allow attendees to earn CEU credits while exploring topics such as global business, luxury product development, and design in the digital age.

  1. Unique Opportunities for the Hospitality Industry

The fall 2017 market will feature a unique concentration of product displays and professional resources for the hospitality industry. Professionals seeking the latest furnishing trends to enhance their hospitality businesses will find showrooms created by more than 75 leading hospitality suppliers. They’ll also have the opportunity to take guided showroom tours with brands such as Baskerville and Global Design Americas. On October 15 and 16, the High Point Market Authority will host a number of special engagements for the hospitality industry, including presentations from leading designers, including Christopher Guy, and a panel discussion on the foundations of hospitality.
 

 

 

 

 

Las Vegas

This Is What Happened at the Summer Las Vegas Market

lasvegasmarketlogoHeld biannually at the 5-million-square-foot World Market Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, Las Vegas Market is the preeminent furniture and home décor expo in the western United States. The market’s organizers have continuously strived to reach new heights since its launch in summer 2005, presenting a new array of engaging displays, new product announcements, and exciting opportunities for networking and professional development twice each year.

The Summer 2017 Las Vegas Market continued this tradition by setting new records for attendance and retailer participation while showcasing a number of new trends. The following are a few highlights from the most recent Las Vegas Market.

What Was New?

The Summer 2017 Las Vegas Market demonstrated the market’s growing popularity among buyers and retailers in the home furnishings, gift, and décor sectors. It featured a record-setting number of new temporary displays, welcoming over 150 first-time temporary exhibitors, which brought the number of temporary displays at the Pavilions to more than 500. Within the World Market Center, attendees perused 72 new or expanded showrooms spanning over 160,000 square feet of new floor space. Brands unveiling never-before-seen showcases at the most recent summer market included Home Insights, Turnkey, Vanguard Furniture, and Zuo Décor.

The increasingly diverse market attendance allowed many companies to reach out to new clients. One exhibitor of handmade wares, Funky Rock Designs, found that 80 percent of all its orders were from first-time customers. The greater attendance was due in part to record-setting participation from industry groups and associations, with nearly 40 organizations represented.

Attendance Trends

Las Vegas Market has grown its attendance exponentially in recent years, welcoming the highest number of buyers ever during the most recent winter market. The Summer Las Vegs Market continued this trend, welcoming a comparable number of attendees to its home furnishings showrooms. While the number of furniture buyers held steady, the event welcomed significantly more gift buyers, reporting a 6 percent year-on-year growth that marks the sixth consecutive year of expansion in this category. In addition, outdoor furnishings companies observed an uptick in buyer activity, and market organizers tracked a 12 percent gain in casual and outdoor furniture shoppers compared to summer 2016.

Market organizers also attributed this year’s sustained surge in attendance to heightened engagement from the interior design sector. While the majority of interior designers present at this summer’s Las Vegas Market hailed from Nevada, California, and Arizona, the event saw an 11 percent boost in attendees from the Midwest and a 25 percent rise in designers from northeastern states.

All in all, the increased attendance at the Summer Las Vegas Market provided ample opportunities for home furnishings companies to connect with new clients. Event organizers including Robert Maricich, the CEO of International Market Centers, noted that the recent growth in both new buyers and repeat attendees has garnered the event heightened industry attention and inspired new advocacy efforts.

Benefits and Opportunities

With more than 800 home furnishings design and retail companies in attendance, including multiple top-100 retailers, the Summer Las Vegas Market provided ample opportunities for industry professionals to familiarize themselves with the latest trends. This year, market organizers also observed an upsurge in engagement from many new regional markets. The event’s expanding attendance included an influx of guests from the West Coast, the Midwest, and Mexico. More specifically, the market saw an 11 percent rise in registrations from the Midwest region, as well as a 25 percent increase in attendees from northeastern states.

These trends solidify the market’s position as the West’s leading home furnishings trade show; increasingly, the event is attracting home furnishings professionals who live too far away to conveniently travel to the biannual High Point Market in North Carolina. In addition to praising the geographic diversity of attendees, sellers were also pleased to find a vast array of product categories, including an enlarged temporary exhibit area.

While offering numerous opportunities for home furnishings professionals to get a closer look at the products changing home décor trends, the Summer Las Vegas Market also enables attendees to forge new business relationships, reinvigorate old ones, and advance their professional skills and industry knowledge. Throughout the five-day event, attendees gained new insights form special events including the FIRST LOOK trend presentation, Ahead of the Curve seminar, and the #ViewonVegas showcase featuring influential designers’ top market picks.

Looking Forward

Recently, International Market Centers fell under the ownership of the Blackstone Group. This acquisition will allow the firm behind the Las Vegas market to access new resources that will allow it to grow and advance in new ways. In the future, the Las Vegas Market plans to enhance its role as the leading market destination on the West Coast, continuing to offer an increasingly diverse array of products and educational opportunities for today’s leading home furnishings and décor professionals.

Keep an eye out for more information about the next Winter Las Vegas Market, which will take place from January 28 to February 1, 2018.