Shaping Your Marketplace

Carole Sloan, February 6, 2006

Markets. They can be the bane of everyone's existence especially as they now are seeming to proliferate — not just in this country, but increasingly around the world.

But they also can be instructive.

The second home furnishings market in Las Vegas last week was a major learning experience for many of the buyers and sellers there. Definitely a furniture-centric show, there were also home textiles exhibitors who came to sell — and learn what new opportunities are out there.

For a number of exhibitors, the folks who came to look and buy were the sort they were accustomed to on a day-in, day-out basis. But interestingly, for a whole bunch of other exhibitors, this was a time for experimentation.

Some mainstream home textiles folks were showing with the thought of trying to figure out what they could do to participate in the non-container side of the business, versus the container-only mentality that has swamped this segment of the industry.

And then there was the bedding phenomenon. Those of us in home textiles often forget we have relatives that also call themselves “bedding” folks. We call them mattress guys. And if you've ever seen a market that was dominated by a particular product category, the mattress guys for sure were ahead of anything else in Las Vegas in terms of impact — and not just because their products are overwhelming in size and scope.

In the first category, of companies trying to find new ways to do business, there was the stunning realization that onesies and even dozens of an item can be a profitable business model! Obviously not for everyone, many laid plans to capture some of this profitable business.

As for the other bedding folks, a number of vendors rediscovered the logical, volume-multiplying, and profitable tie-in sales from related merchandise offered in the same venue. In a phrase, cross-merchandising works.

In Las Vegas, it seemed more mattress guys than ever got it. Pads, pillows, accessories, sheets and decorative bedding were featured more and more with the mattresses.

Suppliers were open about discussing how their specialty bedding retailers were including home textiles in their marketing plans. In fact, in the New York area last month, bedding specialist Sleepy's offered a free seven-piece pillow and decorative bedding package with its upper-end line.

This trend should concern traditional home textiles retailers. For every customer who buys or gets decorative bedding thrown in along with a mattress or bedroom furniture purchase, it's one less sale for them.

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