Furniture brands are among the most galvanized entities in the world, constantly fighting for inches of consumer attention. The market’s judgement is callus and unforgiving and all to often would-be contenders disappear before lunch is even served. The top furniture brands have been in the business since the late 1800s, and have learned a thing or two about staving off a little friendly competition. These brands such as Lexington, Bassett, and Stickley are among an elite class of furniture manufacturers that have consolidated themselves, bought up threatening brands, and all the while held tough to their roots of American manufacturing and Great Southern Furniture Styles. Businesses can learn a thing or two from these brands, and by understanding at least part of their paths to success, your business has a better chance to thrive.
No furniture company ever grew to an international brand by building the furniture they love—they do so by listening to what their customers love. Furniture brands are a lot like friends; the one’s that only come around when they want something (a sale) rarely last long. Those that show up day in and day out and enrich your life—those are the friends that you keep around. Furniture brands like Basset (aka Vaughan-Bassett) have rolled out programs to help address the most personal issues facing furniture buyers today. For example, Bassett has partnered with HGTV to offer several design studios throughout the country which allow people to customize furniture to match their specific needs. It’s like getting a tailor for a suit—but it’s for furniture! This is an example of a friend that helps you move furniture to your new home, not just come to the welcome party.
Consumers are evolving quicker than most businesses can react, certainly the larger ones. There’s no good way for an international conglomerate to pull a 180 mid-development if a new trend emerges they feel offers a better opportunity for them. Companies have to invest in products and services, and if people decide they don’t want or need them anymore—that’s the breaks. Harboring ill will or resentment towards these shifts only further distract from profitability, and developing long-term strategy to benefit your customers are how the most-resounding furniture brands have survived the many numerous shakeups to the industry over the years. Maybe your business does 150K a year, maybe it does 100 Million; if you don’t listen to your customers and invest yourself in providing them value, they’ll be washed away with any tides that your market may experience.
The entire premise of gas stations is convenience, and their business model revolves around offering people the ability to refuel their cars. Ask anyone with a gas station though; the majority of their profit comes from the snacks and drinks they sell inside. This entire model speaks to offering people the opportunity to purchase lottery tickets, cigarettes, and candy, but wouldn’t work at all if they didn’t provide the value of offering gas. What if the grocery store had a gas pump, how many $2 Cokes would you buy then? The best furniture brands on the market today understand that it’s their duty to their customers to provide them value, and only then is it their reward to offer them the opportunity to purchase furniture. By helping someone better understand the differences in pricing of furniture, which brands are the best, and how their house may benefit from different designs—well they’ve now got someone who understands exactly what they want to buy. The key, is being able to show up with a product that meets you customers needs after they better understand them—without being unscrupulous.
Furniture manufacturers are the best example of this split approach of marketing philosophy for many reasons. Firstly, they’ve been around longer than nearly any other industry in the world. Some of the biggest brands on the market today got their starts in the 19th century, and have been family-owned since. Few other industries can say the same, and even fewer can say they’ve weathered storms as well. Furniture retailers like Wayfair have seen a tremendous success in offering people a no-nonsense shopping experience for furniture. Honestly, they have little competition at the moment for what they do, but they came along and offered people a guide to online furniture shopping. 8 years and 6.5 billion a year in revenue later, WayFair is the largest online retailer of furniture, and have a very loyal support base. They’ve dedicated themselves to providing value to their customers in a way that other huge retailers like Overstock and Amazon fail at. They’re specific, and meet a specific demand. Amazon is great, but their real value is just in closing the deal—not in helping the consumer make a choice. That business model of simply ‘having it’ is fading quickly, and businesses that don’t adapt will die.
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