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Outdoor insights - Casual industry reflects today's realities

What works best



In this post-recession period, Casual Living asked several leading manufacturers to speak out about what strategies worked best for their companies during the tough times. The following eight executives took time to identify products that proved to be best-sellers during the 2010 season. They also explained why they expect specific new products debuting this month to rise as stars for the 2011 season. With all the recent economic uncertainties, we did not ask them to look far ahead and make predictions about the industry's future. Instead, their answers reflect the realities of today's economy and tomorrow's customers.

Carl Loredo Craftmade/Woodard • Chief Marketing Officer   

Q What's working now?
     Good style while offering exceptional value.

Q What product has been your best seller? Why?
     Of our 2010 offerings, Andover has risen to the top as a key performer. Exceptional styling at a moderate price point.

Q What new product or collection do you expect to become a bestseller? Why?
     Our new iron additions have been extremely well received this year. Specifically, Fullerton seems to be a top pick of many of our customers. The success seems to stem from that ongoing need for a workhorse iron mesh group. However, we've been able to update the style and look without pricing ourselves out of consideration.

Q How would you describe the health of the casual industry?
     Slowly strengthening. We've been pleased with the growth we've seen in 2010, and retailers have (hopefully) seen the bottom of their sales trajectory. Consumers seem to be out making modest purchases, and, therefore, I believe we'll continue to see growth in the mid-tier offerings with high-end continuing to be challenged.

Q What strategy did you use that was successful despite (or due to) the challenging economy?
     Win with the winners: 1) A focus on further development of key collections. 2) Maintaining our focus on product development and new product introductions in style and key price point areas for the company while other companies waited the downturn out. 3) A focus on execution. The supply chain offered MANY challenges this year. Because sub-suppliers slowed down with the economy, many have had trouble ramping back up.

Q What have you learned that you wish you had known earlier?
     There was even more opportunity during the downturn than we realized. We could have had even stronger sales if we could have anticipated the extreme jump in demand from last season to this one with many of our groups.

Q Where do you see opportunity for future growth?
     New mediums that can be created with less environmental impact.

Q If you could send a message to retailers to help them strengthen their business, what would it be?

     Help deliver the consumer's goal of building a dreamlike destination in their backyard.

     Focus on differentiation (in product and shopping experience) and innovation to win at retail.

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