Hollander Further Commits to Green
February 12, 2008,
Even in the best of times, adding value to basic bedding is always a bit difficult — after all, the obvious appeal of fashion is commonly overwhelmed by what seems like a sea of white. With home markets struggling and retailers lowering volume and margin expectations, these certainly are not the best of times.
Hollander is very active: this market the company is introducing a line of ObusForm products on the heels of a new licensing program; it is resisting price increases with its Artic Down white down blend effort; it is cultivating Natural Elements, its green effort; it is coming out with a new pillow protector program; and in its Laura Ashley Home program is hitting new quality levels, weaving in a green theme and offering an expanded palette in basics.
Hollander signed a contract with ObusForm — one of the best-recognized home brands in Canada — about two months ago and is introducing a line of recovery foam-type products using Solotext, a fiber from Japan that has the feel and density of recovery foam, yet is completely washable.
"We're not just telling another pillow story," explained Beth Mack, Hollander chief marketing officer. "We're really trying to develop new constructions that go along with this brand. Technology and the constructions are generating more interest."
The line offers multichamber pillows, fiber beds and zoned mattress pads in a retail price range of roughly $50-$150. The technology appeal complements a health and wellness story also, Mack said.
The timing couldn't be worse for rising white goose down prices, in some cases hitting as high as 30%. Concern that the natural fill market would end up taking the hit for that —either in depressed sales levels, squeezed margins, or both — is what led Hollander to introduce Arctic Down, a blend of European white goose down and duck down.
"It raises the fill power," Mack said. "You're telling your customer that you can get the same warmth and luxury as a 600 fill power by utilizing a blend. And it's less expensive than last year's goose prices. It's also romancing the story for the customer a bit."
Hollander has also introduced a new pillow protector program in five-inch-square hi-tech looking packaging. In at least 10 skus in up to three colorways, the program offers satin, polycotton blends, nanotex, and cotton sateen up to 400 thread count. With as much as a 60% margin, price points range from $7.99 to $12.99.
The company has introduced a multi-tiered green program, ranging from a 200 thread count to a 500 thread count cotton program and for pillows utilizing recycled plastic bottles.
"Hollander has made a very large effort in switching into 'live comfortably, live green.' What we're trying to get across is non-dyed, non-bleached, eco-friendly product that doesn't have to be uncomfortable or ugly. Consumers don't want to spend more money but they do want to make the effort, and they don't want to compromise comfort," Mack said.
Hollander is also expanding its green story with the launch of Laura Ashley Home Natural Elements, a co-branding effort.
"The strategy here is that because environmental friendliness is such a hot topic we wanted to take it in a couple of different directions," offered Louis Smith, brand manager. "We have a good/better/best story."
The good is built on a 250 thread count in a down alternative plain weave cotton fabric; a 260-count is used for the natural fill. The better segment is a 300-count dobby sateen in a one-and-a-half inch stripe. And the best is a 370-thread count silk and cotton blend, available in white goose down with a gusset, arctic down and duck down. Retail prices start at $99.99 for a natural fill, full/queen.
The Laura Ashley palette is also being expanded with eight new colorways.