Bed Bugs and Beyond

Carole Sloan, October 12, 2010

FINALLY THERE ARE SOME TOPICS that will hold center stage during this week's Home Fashions Market beyond the same old stuff we've been hearing about and writing about for much of this past decade.
     Coming up this week - two very disparate subjects: One is the bedbug plague briefly described by my Opinion Today page mate Jennifer Marks last week; the second - in marked contrast -is how to approach the fast speed needs of the under-30 consumer.
     The bedbug subject is a conversation now being discussed in "proper" homes. New York is No. 1 in this epidemic, according to Terminix, a pest control company, but the situation is also a serious problem in four Ohio cities, dispelling thoughts that this is a big-city only situation.
     In an article last week in The New York Times, Protect-a- Bed executives were quoted as noting their business in '09 had doubled from the prior year. And other companies are offering a variety of products to help stem this tide. It's a subject that provoked guffaws just a few years back, but now has assumed a more significant place in the home world's attention.
"There are some topics that will hold center stage during this week's Home Fashions Market beyond the same old stuff we've been hearing about."
     In a radical contrast of subject matter, this market week will definitely have more focus on doing business with today's consumer. This is not your typical customer of yore who is drawn to the big promo that is mostly price-driven.  This is a consumer who sees everything now, wants it now and is a humongous communicator with either friends and relatives or "friends" - all of whom are influencers or are influenced by the availability of products featured at online venues. And if they like a product, they'll want it now.
     This will have a major impact on how home textiles are designed, sourced and sold. Six months out for production of an item will no longer be acceptable. The increasingly ubiquitous "testing" mode at retailers where an item can test in a small number of stores before being expanded to a second tier and then run chain-wide will become obsolete.
     Buyers will have to get back to being buyers and put their money on the line if they hope to capture the fast-moving, short-term attention spans of these modern consumers. They have no patience for waiting.
     Just watch the action at this week's Fashion Week in New York to see what is happening. Bloggers are getting front row seats along with the patrician editors who have long called the shots. The messages are getting out instantly - and with a different voice.
     And consumers are responding more and more. It's time to look beyond the same old way of selling sheets and towels.

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