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HGTV joins furniture industry for Preferred Retailer Program

Partnership with NHFA designed to generate awareness, increase consumer confidence

Popular television network HGTV and the National Home Furnishings Association have created the first-ever, industry-wide consumer education and awareness program developed exclusively for the home furnishings industry.
       
The new Preferred Retailer Program is set to launch in late summer 2008 and ultimately will educate and motivate consumers to make informed decisions regarding furniture purchases.
      
The HGTV-NHFA Preferred Retailer Program will deliver expert information on furniture types, quality and value considerations, design styles and color tips. The multi-tier campaign will leverage the strength of the Internet with a co-branded HGTV-NHFA Web site devoted to the industry where consumers will benefit from interactive design tools, articles and design ideas and localized listings of participating Preferred Retailers. 
       
In addition, the Preferred Retailer Program will receive promotion across multiple other media platforms to generate awareness with print ads, on-air commercials and in-store materials, all created and produced by HGTV. The network experienced record ratings in 2007 while the HGTV Web site regularly attracted more than 5 million unique visitors each month.
       
“The furniture market has become exceedingly competitive at both the retail and manufacturing levels,” HGTV President Jim Samples said. “After extensive research, HGTV and NHFA recognized the need to reinvent the way this industry does business in order to create stronger connections with consumers and help them make informed decisions. By enhancing consumer confidence, the Preferred Retailer Program has the potential to stimulate the industry, inspire consumers and dramatically impact not only how they purchase furniture, but also how often they purchase furniture.”
       
According to a study conducted by OTX in August 2007, consumers cite too many options (42%), uncertainty regarding design preferences (41%) and too little information on how to make selections (29%) as factors causing a lack of confidence when buying furniture. Almost 75% of those surveyed said they would utilize a resource that provided simple, easy to understand information prior to buying furniture. More than 40% said they would buy furniture more often if they had greater confidence in their purchasing decisions.
       
“HGTV is a national home design icon that enjoys an extraordinary relationship with a very home-engaged and loyal consumer,” said Doug Kays, NHFA president. “By leveraging the power of the HGTV brand and the credibility of the NHFA, participants in the Preferred Retailer Program will benefit in very tangible ways, and for probably less than what most stores pay for a half-page, black-and-white Yellow Pages ad.”
       
Preferred Retailers will be distinguished by established standards including membership in NHFA, written consumer rights and guarantee policies, a dispute resolution vehicle, ethics guidelines and community involvement and support. The program’s $20-million, multi-platform campaign will enhance awareness and interest in the furniture industry on a national scope, while also incorporating local marketing benefits. Detailed information about each participating retailer will be included on the HGTV-NHFA Preferred Retailer Web site, including store hours, lines carried, Web site link, recognitions or awards and community affiliations. Participants also may highlight a sale or the introduction of new furniture lines and utilize in-store materials to further leverage the program and the powerful HGTV brand. HGTV also will extend its public relations, programming and editorial support to the campaign, establishing various talent as national spokespeople to create added interest and enthusiasm.
       
HGTV is ranked the No. 1 cable network when measuring loyalty among females age 25-54 (Nielsen, Sept. 2007). In addition, according to Nielsen Net Ratings, visitors to HGTV’s Web site are significantly more likely to own a residence and to purchase a home, and most important, more likely to purchase furniture (70%) than the national U.S. average.
       
HGTV and the NHFA will begin presenting the program by appointment and signing Preferred Retailers at the upcoming Las Vegas Furniture Market. The two organizations have given a handful of retailers a preview of the program, with positive responses.
       
“Marketing in our industry has largely relied on pitching price and financial terms, failing to truly address the consumers’ needs,” said Doug Wolf, president of Wolf Furniture in Bellwood, Pa. “Our industry has a real need for this, and I trust HGTV and the NHFA to do it right.”
       
Cherie Oswald, senior vice president for new business development, is heading up the development of the Preferred Retailer Program for HGTV, working with Steve DeHaan, executive vice president at the NHFA. Manufacturers and retailers interested in learning more about the program should contact Oswald at coswald@scrippsnetworks.com, or DeHaan at sdehaan@nhfa.org.

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