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Consumers Demand Change

Tom Edmonds, Carole Sloan, January 12, 2009

Now that the dismal holiday retail season is over, and we're into the new year and have a brief pause before the marathon of first quarter market weeks, it's time to take a pause and assess what steps can be taken to take advantage of the recent challenges to the world of home textiles.

One thing seems clear: Consumers in this environment are abandoning what had been considered norms over the last decade or two. Lowball pricing is not drawing in the crowds it once has. In recent months, retailers and consumers have found that somewhere, someone else would be priced lower for a remarkably similar item.

Recognizing this is essential for everyone in the home textiles business. And it will play out this year — big time — benefiting the suppliers and retailers who don't clutch to the same old, same old product direction.

Looking at the plethora of home textiles promotional activities — just a drop in the bucket by comparison with the apparel business for the holiday season — same old, same old was truly the mantra.

We've been living with this approach for more than a decade — more pieces in a box, lessening of quality, prices that are so down-market that it is hard to believe they are real.

Now is indeed a perfect time to let loose the creativity of the suppliers and retailers in this business. There are a host of young design hopefuls at schools across the country who are eager to present 21st century ideas to this marketplace, as well as a great number of design mavens in the business who haven't got gray hair.

When one studies the results of last year's election and the demographics of the voting breakout, anyone in this business should pay heed and look to new ways to design and market new products.

There's a whole new marketplace out there. It's time to learn — and build business in that venue.

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