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If We Don't Run Sales Promotions...

Furniture World Magazine


Then what will we as an industry and our customers do?

Publisher's Note: Let me say for the record that I agree with this article... that the public's perception that we are an industry of continuous sales and unrealistic pricing has largely been self inflicted and needs to be corrected. Having said that, please note that all of the highly effective 'sale' tags decorating this article can be purchased from FURNITURE WORLD .

If we gave up persistent sale promotion and advertising, then what would we, as an industry do? Many retailers swear that sale promotions are their best traffic and sales builders. Others insist that the constant deluge of home furnishings sale advertising is killing our industry. Let's try to analyze the word sale and look at this marketing technique in an objective way.

First, we need to question some assumptions many retailers have about sales.

WE CAN PROVE THAT SALE PROMOTIONS WORK ... RIGHT? Well, we do know that they are an effective way to get people through our door once. We also know that we sell more product when we have a sale then when we don't. Does this mean that having a sale works? Not necessarily.

If no other traffic building techniques were used, then we have only proved that a sale works better than no sale. Because of this, it is advisable for most retailers to try other approaches at least once or twice. (Check: What we should be doing, on page 28.)

IT COSTS NO MORE THAN USUAL ... RIGHT? True, sale promotions cost no more than most retailers are used to spending. We do not have to think about changing our operation, investing in our people or inventing new 'bells and whistles.' All successful retailers must contain costs, but looking at costs without their associated benefits is short sighted... and many retailers have not been able to measure the benefits of alternative promotion strategies.

PEOPLE EXPECT TO GET THE BEST PRICES AT A SALE... RIGHT? This is certainly true. Consumers are conditioned to believe that if they buy at un-discounted prices they are paying too much.

Now let us look at the problems with sale advertising:

NO LONGER EXCITING: Sale advertising is no longer unexpected, spontaneous or exciting. Our customers know we will have a sale, then another sale, and finally one more sale. One way retailers can relate that they are not in the business of running continuous sales is by explaining, for example, that a particular sale is one of only two sales given each year.

NO LONGER BELIEVABLE: Sales are no longer believable. Our customers now know what the price of furniture really is ... 50-70% off. The MSRP is not a valid guide in the minds of most consumers, therefore, the only reason they buy during a sales is that they feel foolish if they buy at any other time.

WHAT WE SHOULD BE DOING! To overcome the lack of inertia that keeps consumers from buying we must:
  • Attract their attention - special promotions, tie-ins, gifts for attendance. One perfect tie-in is to use TV advertising (hopefully on HAVEN in your market). Work with your manufacturers to create a "Home Office Idea Show" where customers can see 10 different home office settings and receive a FREE copy of HAVEN decorating Guide and a "20 ideas for making your home office perfect for you" brochure.
  • Surprise them - Have a "Furniture for Christmas Show" in August or a "Give A Gift of Furniture" show in September. Come up with your own better ideas, but make them different, exciting and surprising. That's what attracts people to your store.
  • Build long-term relationships - assume that every visitor could be worth $5,000 to you over the next five years. Make sure that they love your store and want to return. That means that they like your people, your showroom and your style.
  • Become part of a nationally recognized program - Display the HFC "heart in home" logo throughout your store. Feature HAVEN Decorating guides as giveaways. Play HAVEN videos on your VCR'S. Make sure that every visitor realizes that you are part of the industry wide effort that brings them decorating ideas through HAVEN TV. They know Joy Philbin, they are beginning to recognize our logo. Get on board now.

Whatever you decide ... prove to your potential buyers that you care about helping them; you care about keeping them as customers; and that you are a source of ideas that will help them to make their home a perfect HAVEN. Sales are passé... Sales are considered misleading. Give your customers IDEAS and they will stay with you... and trust you.

For more information on HFC programs or questions about this article contact editor@furninfo.com.