Promote vacations at home as you increase sales
Marcia Blake -- Casual Living, July 1, 2008
How do you get a message to your customers and communicate with them? The answer is through promotion. It is important to adjust to the changing needs of the consumer, as well as in response to competitive pressures of the environment.
What exactly do your customers want and need? Rather than placing products first in your advertisements, find out what the customers want and create the solution, product or service to represent the main focus of your promotion.
In the current economic conditions, many people are choosing to stay at home for vacation — or staycation, “a vacation that is spent at one’s home enjoying all that home and one’s home environs have to offer,” as defined in the Urban Dictionary. Experts say it’s not uncommon for overscheduled families to choose a staycation.
“I think there are new innovative ways to think of vacation,” said Lois Backon, vice president of the Families and Work Institute.
Home improvement and discount stores are stocking up on products that will make the yard more fun while encouraging weekend getaways and socialization in your own backyard. The rising pressures consumers are feeling with the soaring price of gas and food are creating the perfect venue for you as specialty casual furniture retailers to embrace this concept.
Here are four solutions that will help you promote staycations to your customers and increase sales.
Solution 1: Promote the idea of making your home a destination.
Visual merchandising is a fabulous way to encourage your customers to want to create unique home ambiance. Show photos of Bali, Hawaii, a luxury resort pool setting or perhaps a picture of your favorite destination.
You can run a contest for people to enter their preferred destination of choice that can most easily be replicated in their own backyard. The winner can be awarded time with a local designer and a member of your sales staff to design the destination of their dreams in their own home. This space doesn’t have to be the entire backyard or patio, it can be a section of the outdoor living space or a balcony terrace.
Your sales staff can suggest appropriate pieces of outdoor furniture and accessories that will complete the objective. Maybe part of the prize could be a gift card towards the purchase of their dream destination creation.
Some of the hottest destinations being recreated in outdoor living rooms today are Africa, Indonesia and the Caribbean. It is easy to design an African setting with the wonderful introductions of animal print outdoor fabric by Sunbrella and Outdura.
Candles are a wonderful addition to any setting because the scents can instantly produce a memory of a special place and time. For example, musky earthen scents are reminiscent of the plains and forests of Africa.
Tropical breezes can seemingly float in the air with the addition of fragrant Hawaiian tropics candles. Daybeds or cabanas dressed in black and white tucked in a special corner of the yard create spiritual reminders of Indonesia.
This endeavor will create loyal customers who will keep coming back and reward you with referrals.
Solution 2: Promote the idea of staying at home during vacation time.
Change is a constant in the world we live in, so embracing change can help your customer create a home environment that is comfortable and unique.
Acknowledging the changing times in a positive manner will win more hearts than negative advertising, targeting people’s fears. Buck the trend and encourage customers to enjoy life in their own backyards.
It is relatively easy to recreate dream travel destinations in your home. Numerous choices of outdoor quality furnishings have been inspired by specific places such as Tuscany, the tropics, Africa, Spain and France.
Why spend lots of money to temporarily visit these locations when you can invest the money in your own home? Rather than leaving the feelings behind when you return from these exotic locations, feel the pleasure of returning there everyday.
Solution 3: Partner with local designers or offer an in-store designer to help customers transform their homes.
Consumers are discovering outdoor living is more than simply dressing up patios with a few pieces of furniture. People are transforming their common backyards into specialty rooms complete with televisions, bars, kitchens, heaters and water features. Drapes, carpet, lamps, plants and trees are being used as accents as well as room partitions.
To assist your target market with the designing of these outdoor rooms, you can either partner with local designers who are members of ASID or hire an in-house designer. This helps you build relationships with your customers and offer them expert advice on how to design a new outdoor living space that reflects their lifestyle.
The marketplace is offering a vast array of stylish outdoor furnishings, fabrics, accessories and appliances. Offer your expertise on the products you sell to the designers, and they will reciprocate by offering inspiration and motivation to your customers.
Solution 4: Partner with local outdoor landscapes builders to promote the concept of community.
A feeling of community is a very powerful tool in the marketplace today. Creating loyalty while building relationships is the key to increasing market awareness of your brand.
Do research to find the best landscape designers, pool builders and contractors in your local area and invite them to meet with you to discuss business opportunities. You can promote them to your customer base and vise versa. When a customer comes into your store and wants a new patio structure, plants, outdoor flooring or a water feature you do not provide, you will be ready to confidently refer the expert for the job, just as these vendors will in turn recognize your expertise in casual furnishings and be a loyal partner for your business.
Using some form of these four solutions to promote staycations to customers should lead to increased sales, even during this dreary economic climate.
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