A group of leading manufacturers here is working together to reinvent the concept of Pre-Market, long known as the unofficial prelude to the bi-annual High Point Market.
According to Brian D. Casey, president and chief executive of the High Point Market Authority, who will serve as spokesperson for the group, a new Pre-Market concept will debut August 22 to 25 this year. The invitation-only affair is being designed for the industry’s largest manufacturers and retailers.
Historically, Pre-Market was an informal event consisting of meetings between major case goods manufacturers and a handful of department store buyers and leading furniture retailers. The manufacturers used the time to seek input from their largest accounts in order to fine-tune product prior to roll-out at the Spring and Fall Markets and to garner early commitments. Retailers, meanwhile, previewed important introductions, offered suggestions to “tweak” product in order to ensure salability in their marketplaces, and in some cases, secured distribution of key collections. Yet, while big business was quietly being done, the “non-event’ had no official sponsor or endorsement from Market organizers, no shuttle buses set aside for visitors, no published dates and no structured agenda.
As Casey relates, that’s all about to change. “The business model of the new marketplace demands that we adjust the Pre-Market model in order to restore its core value and meet the needs of leading retailers and exhibitors here in High Point,” he says. “Our focus is to ensure that we continue to maintain the High Point Market’s core competency as the preeminent Market for important product introductions, with the broadest array of new product available anywhere.”
The newly reconceived event will encompass two days twice each year. In addition to an opening reception the night before, each morning will begin with a breakfast and panel discussion, followed by a working day of showroom visits. The evenings’ social agenda will include a formal cocktail reception and dinner for principles, and a second, more informal reception and dinner for all attendees, whether retailer, manufacturer, marketing executive or sales representative.
One key difference will be the presentation of actual product in Market-ready condition by participating manufacturers, rather than sketches, single cases and mock-ups, as has largely been the practice heretofore. “What you understood as Pre-Market will no longer exist,” Casey says. “Our goal is to deliver the greatest value to the retailers in attendance, and that involves the preview of fully realized product introductions.”
Remarks Kevin O’Connor, chief executive of Samson Marketing, parent company of Legacy Classic and Universal Furniture, a member of the organizing group of manufacturers, “We’ve spoken to many of our customers and they’ve told us that if the event is executed as we envision, this new Pre-Market would absolutely meet their needs. It’s a concept they will fully embrace.”
George Revington, president and chief executive of Home Meridian International, parent company of SLS/Pulaski, another participant, agrees. “The feedback has been clear: The time has come for a more organized and structured model that involves retailers in a successful, valued and memorable experience.”
Each of the participating manufacturers will contribute to the cost of the semi-annual event in order to deliver a superlative customer service experience with transportation, meals, entertainment and networking options.
“Pre-Market will not be a Market Authority-underwritten event,” Casey says, “because the Authority is publicly funded and our dollars are earmarked specifically for the bi-annual High Point Market. We will, however, contribute resources to the coordination of the event, because a successful Pre-Market ultimately supports and strengthens the High Point Market and its leadership role as the Market for new product introductions.”
About the High Point Market Authority: The High Point Market Authority is the official sponsor of the High Point Market: The World’s Home for Home Furnishings. Featuring more than 2600 exhibitors and attracting tens of thousands of visitors from more than 110 countries, the High Point Market is the driving force of the home furnishings industry.
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