Volume 26/Number 25; April 29/May 6, 2013
By Deena Bouknight
High Point, N.C.—Who could have known the chatter at the International Home Furnishings Market here would have been punctuated with Pinterest, blogging and iPads? In this age of rapid-fire technology, exhibitors and dealers alike were looking for the novel niche to net consumers. This year’s week-long spring show, held April 20 to 25, did just that.
High Point goes beyond the traffic-stopping, showroom merchandising as the primary way to garner attention. Instead, exhibitors used 21st century methods that retailers could then emulate in their own stores.
During the show, Surya’s president, Satya Tiwari, expressed the importance of raising the bar of the High Point Market showroom experience in order to appeal to retailers challenged by economic issues. “Our goal is for all visitors to return home with relevant information that will make them successful in accessory sales.”
Allen Robertson, vice president of sales at Capel Rugs, added consumers want and need quality rugs presented in lifestyle settings. He said retailers can glean ideas at the market that will move them away from the ‘box’ mentality of non-visual presentations that mass merchants have created.
Capel stepped “out of the box” by having a blogger hold a meet-and-greet instead of the typical decorating book author or television personality. Coco, who writes the popular interior design blog COCOCOZY, was present as Capel unveiled a line of rugs named for the blog site. Dealers were interested in meeting the person many reported to follow online, according to Robertson.
The presentation of the COCOCOZY rugs was emphasized with ideas for retailers and interior designers. For example, showroom designer Ron Bristow folded the rugs like fabric and hung them from the ceiling.
Surya packed the week with many events and promotions. Using the popular Pinterest social media site, a content sharing service allowing members to ‘pin’ images, videos and other objects to their pin boards, Surya created a ‘Pin it to Win it’ sweepstakes.
Customers entered for a chance to win a Surya rug and home accessory package of their choosing, which will be decided May 12. The object of the sweepstakes is to drive overall brand awareness as the entrants must create an Inspired Home—a running theme for Surya—board on Pinterest.
Tiwari said Pinterest is a “powerful visual and social platform” that allows for interaction with the customer. “We not only use it as a place to share information and inspiration, but also as a tool to see what resonates with our page followers. That valuable information is then incorporated into our product development process.”
Further utilizing modern techniques, Feizy used the iPad as one avenue to entice dealers to its showroom. During a “Feizadelic” 1970s-themed party to celebrate 40 years in business, guests who visited the company’s Market Square showroom had a chance to enter a dance contest and win an iPad mini. Under a courtyard tent, attendees were able to view décor accented with Feizy Rugs.
Design industry names and faces such as Kathy Ireland, Barclay Butera, Candace Olson and Genevieve Gorder drew dealers to showrooms. The two HGTV personalities, Olson and Gorder, were on site to answer dealer questions—Olson for Surya and Gorder for Capel.
Ireland, who recently signed a license agreement for her popular home furnishings namesake brand with Nourison, stopped by the manufacturer’s showroom to mark the occasion (see related story on this page).
Robertson said more than 100 people were in attendance at the Sunday brunch where guests had the opportunity to chat with Gorder. “Having appearances by our key licensing partners, Gorder and Coco, increased our traffic by at least 25%, and this was a key reason our sales increased substantially during market week.”
Tiwari added, “We love any opportunity that will allow us to bring industry experts like [Olson] together with retailers and designers to learn more about topics that are important to them and their businesses.”
Exhibitors also expressed the importance of dealers using available promotional materials in stores to draw attention to recognizable personalities, and to communicate reasons behind the brand and design/ decorating advice and ideas.
One such important tool is the catalog. Tiwari pointed to Surya’s new spring catalog, Inspired, saying it is part of the company’s overall marketing campaign for High Point. “There is a story behind each of the 1,000-plus new spotlighted introductions—a spark of creative inspiration and a labor of love put forth through the hands of our skilled artisans.”
Some rug makers are finding that diversifying product lines widens the appeal. Already, licensee arrangements that companies such as Nourison have with Butera and now Ireland, for example, include a range of other accessories because the designers license other home furnishing lines via other manufacturers.
Nonetheless, Surya launched its own line of coordinating area rugs and pillows by designer Kate Spain. During the market, Spain’s distinct look, which draws from aspects of Spanish pottery and woven arts of the Central Andes, was offered in complementary presentations for dealers.
Another addition for Surya was a handmade in India collection of ottomans, benches and footstools that are made of wool and use similar looks to the company’s flat-weave patterned rugs. With rugs, pillows and upholstered accent pieces, Tiwari explained Surya dealers can create traffic-stopping vignettes in their own showrooms. “We understand rugs, pillows and other accessories are often the place where the consumer experiments with a new style or color trend that may be too much of a financial commitment in a large furniture piece.”
Regarding the business climate in High Point, exhibitors and dealers alike seemed less burdened by economic woes.
Jim Curtain, vice president of sales, Shaw Living, commented halfway through the week that all the major players were present and traffic was steady. “Customer mood is very positive.”
Some highlights of spring introductions included:
•Shaw’s designer-oriented Melrose Collection, which is a value-priced 60-piece ensemble. Machine woven with Shaw’s Evertouch nylon, the looks range from ancient Persian to American modern. Suggested retail price is $399 for a roughly 5 x 8 size.
•Tracery by Capel is inspired by elements of gothic architecture, such as cathedral windows. These rugs are hand-tufted in India of 70% wool and 30% viscose, with a 5 x 8 retails for $639.
The fall edition of the International Home Furnishings Market will take place in High Point, Oct. 19 to 24.