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Agenda set for AHFA marketing conference, June 27-29

Online registration for Asheville, N.C., event now open

The American Home Furnishings Alliance will host its annual marketing conference in Asheville, N.C., June 27-29.

The educational and networking meeting will take place at the Hilton Asheville Biltmore Park and is open to all industry marketing executives.

A wine tasting hosted by Biltmore For Your Home will open the event at 6 p.m. Monday, June 27. A group dinner buffet will follow.

The educational program opens at 8 a.m. June 28 with a look at color, material and lifestyle trends influencing product design for 2012.

"The speed with which consumer trends impact product development and marketing has accelerated," said Jackie Hirschhaut, AHFA vice president of marketing. "We've entered the era of ‘just-in-time' marketing - by the time a color, design or lifestyle trend is identified, it is already influencing advertising, social media and all forms of visual merchandising."

Per Nimer, director of Akzo Nobel's trend research group, Analogue, will present color, material and trend inspirations. Erika Woelfel, color marketing director for Behr paints, will explore how lifestyle and design trends influence color forecasts.

Rick Babick, founder of Design Research Reports, will tell how design tracking can produce insights into consumer behavior that help companies quickly and efficiently manage their brands in an ever-changing marketplace.

Meghan Gross, senior vice president of MSL Boston, a corporate communications and reputation management firm, will offer an action plan for handling complaints posted on the new Consumer Product Safety Commission online database, which was launched in March.

Ron Goswell, CEO of ayr1, a provider of virtual stores, will showcase a multimedia presentation of Web marketing trends, ranging from the dawn of widespread use of furniture demonstration videos to the latest techniques in search optimization.

Offering insights into a young consumer demographic, Michael Parrish DuDell, senior editor of, will offer insights in marketing to Generation Y, with its more than 70 million members who spend nearly $200 billion a year. His talk, "Take Two and TEXT Me in the Morning," will show how to activate and engage this group.

On Wednesday, June 29, the program will address social media marketing with a talk by Crystalyn Stuart, vice president of social marketing at IMRE, a marketing agency with a business unit dedicated to the home and building industries. She'll speak on "Customizing Your Social Media Portfolio to Match Your Brand."

Stuart will be followed by a panel presentation featuring two marketing executives who have created successful online strategies, Kim Shaver, vice president of marketing communications for Hooker Furniture, and Laura Holland, director of marketing services for Hickory Chair.

The online strategy session will continue with Donna Faust, director of marketing for Omaha, Neb.-based Hayneedle, documenting the rise of the fast-growing online retailer.

Closing the program on Wednesday afternoon are two green themed sessions.

Karen Barnes, director of insight at the Shelton Group, will give an exclusive first look at this year's EcoPulse, an annual survey of consumer perceptions of green products and marketing.

Attendees also will get an inside glimpse into the housewares industry, where the Cuisinart brand has developed its GreenGourmet line of non-stick cookware. Mary Rodgers, director of marketing communications for Cuisinart, will share how the company responded to an increasing demand for eco-conscious products.

Rooms at the Hilton Asheville Biltmore Park are available at a discounted rate of $149 a night. Make reservations at or call (828) 209-2700 and mention the AHFA marketing meeting to receive the group discount. The cutoff for room reservations at the group rate is June 3.

Registration for the two day meeting, including breakfast and lunch June 28 and 29, as well as the opening reception and dinner June 27, is $599 for AHFA members and $900 for nonmembers. Register online at

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