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There's No Place Like Home Theatre

Furniture World Magazine


Home Theater is currently one of the furniture industry's hottest growth territories.

Retailers willing to take advantage of this tremendous opportunity should seriously consider incorporating Home Theater displays into their existing strategic marketing programs. Home Theater vignettes provide retailers with the ideal occasion to place many of their products together creating a dynamic cross-merchandised vignette. Products such as upholstery, case-goods, lighting and accessories will work together in shaping the ideal Home Theater selling environment.

When it comes to electronic home entertainment, most consumers are no longer content with a simple audio-visual system. Even the youngest generation has placed a great demand on the sophistication provided by high performance video games. More often than not, the idea of home entertainment for today's active families is a state of the art, multi-media Home Theater!

Home furnishings and consumer electronics are natural companions. Selling a large projection television inside of an entertainment center is a high profit add-on that would be missed if the entertainment center is offered by itself. More and more furniture retailers are eager to compete in this fast expanding cross merchandising phenomenon. If you are thinking about this new direction for your store, you should be acquainted with a few fundamental elements of Home Theater planning and design. These elements are color and lighting, acoustics, signing and the type of display and merchandise presentation that influence consumer response and purchasing decisions. The re-creation of a realistic home entertainment environment within a retail shopping experience adds sensation and drama to the adventure. This type of display also helps potential buyers to visualize the excitement that Home Theater will bring to their homes.

THREE BASIC CONFIGURATIONS: There are three basic Home Theater presentation categories; open display, semi-enclosed and a completely enclosed display vignette.

Within the basic presentation styles there are many display solutions for dramatic life-style Home Theater presentations. No matter what presentation style you choose, it is critical to plan your media room for optimum acoustical performance. Best solutions will always include using only five basic channel speakers; left, right, center and left\right rear, plus sub woofers! The most favorable screen width is usually considered as approximately one-fifth the distance of the viewer from the screen. Screen height is best viewed at eye level whether standing or in a seated position.

OPEN PRESENTATION: Many retailers opt to provide customers with a Home theater vignette that is completely open to the rest of the store. One advantage of this type of display is its quick and easy set-up. Begin by selecting an area of the showroom that is next to related product categories. Maintaining proper adjacencies to products such as Audio and Video are crucial to your sales associate's daily operations and increase the potential for add-on sales. Equally important is the maintenance of sightlines throughout the store. A great Home Theater presentation defeats its purpose if it blocks visual access to other merchandise. It would be worse if it was hidden from view!

When you have selected the ideal area for the display, be sure that you follow the fundamental rules for acoustical performance. Accessorize the display with a comfortable sofa, chairs, a coffee table and lush plants and floral arrangements. Remember to include special touches like books, magazines or even a large bowl of fresh popcorn. The idea is to create as realistic a home environment as possible. Life-style vignettes help customers to picture your products in their homes.

SEMI-ENCLOSED PRESENTATION: Semi-enclosed presentation areas follow the same procedures with the addition of a few specially shaped display walls. These walls may partially seclude the Home Theater from the rest of the showroom and will help you to achieve a greater degree of acoustical control. Shaped walls add definition and scale to your presentation and when properly accessorized can bring drama and excitement to the entire store. Walls that incorporate columns and headers provide the ideal location for signing and neon elements. Semi-enclosed displays work well when properly located within the showroom. They should allow visual access through and beyond them while providing consumers and sales associates with a special place to preview product demonstrations.

ENCLOSED PRESENTATION: Completely enclosed Home Theaters are by far the most popular. Retailers will sometimes opt to have several near each other. Because they almost always feature walls to the ceiling, they are best located along your store's perimeter wall.

Maintaining several Theaters has numerous advantages. Each can be accessorized to appeal to a particular target market or price-point. For example, we have designed and accessorized theaters for men, women, teenagers and even children. Using a basic understanding of the psychology of color and response helps when targeting particular markets. All presentations follow the fundamental rules of acoustics, screen width and viewing distance. The only elements that change are the selling environments themselves. Set your imagination free as you design for your target market!

Another advantage of multiple theater presentation is that customers can wander to another viewing area if one is occupied. In theater settings that accurately imitate intimate home environments, customers sometimes feel as though they are intruding when they accidentally walk in during another customers viewing. With multiple settings, they can simply walk to another area of the home!

Think seriously about including a Youth Bedroom vignette decorated and displayed as though it was ready to welcome its young inhabitants. Researchers tell us that children wield considerable clout in the family's purchase decision making process.

In the endless struggle to separate consumers from their disposable income, few strategic merchandise presentations will rival the intensity, spectacle and profit building potential of the well designed retail Home Theater selling environment.

Randahl Ramos is a principal with Curtis Randahl Associates, a store planning firm based in San Francisco. Questions about any aspect of store design or planning can be directed to him care of Furniture World Magazine at editor@furninfo.com.