While researching this 150th anniversary issue of Furniture World, its been tempting to consider how far we, as an industry, have come since 1870 when Furniture World’s predecessor publication, “The Cabinet Maker,“ first hit the streets. There have been improvements in transportation, warehousing, metrics, materials and information technologies. But in many ways, the business model for furniture sales and marketing hasn't changed much since 1895 when we began publishing as “The Furniture World.“ One hundred and twenty-five years later, consumers still need furniture—brands and manufacturers still need to sell it. We continue to go to furniture shows (in normal years) and worry about consumer demand, supply issues, overseas competition/dumping, demographics, reps, the quality of retail salespeople, staffing and government regulation.
Likewise, neither our customers nor the products we offer them have changed all that much.
Individuals and family groups need places to eat, rest, sleep, study, work, socialize and entertain. Our customers lived in houses and apartments then and do so today. The people who purchase our products have the same psychological needs and similar likes. About 20 years ago my friend, the late furniture sales philosopher Peter Marino, wrote about needs and wants in Furniture World. “People need to eat,“ he wrote, “but like to choose their foods. They need to drink, but like to drink purer, better tasting water. They need to breathe, but like to breathe cleaner air. Needs and likes also permeate their social, ego, and self-fulfillment needs, but our customers like to go about realizing those in the way they choose.” The same is true for home furnishings. Our customers need a place to sit, but they also like it to be attractive, comfortable, durable, affordable—perhaps even impressive, portable, and multi-functional. Not much of that has changed either.
To help retailers meet these rarely-changing consumer needs for furniture, accessories, rugs and bedding in the way customers like it—faster, more professionally, seamlessly and respectfully, has been and will continue to be the mission of Furniture World.
Throughout this issue, you will find new ideas and strategies for doing good business in 2021. We've also included interesting reflections and references gleaned from past issues of Furniture World that I hope you will enjoy.
Russell Bienenstock is Editor-in-Chief of Furniture World Magazine, founded 1870. Comments can be directed to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.