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Does Casual Industry "Got Milk?"

August 15, 2008

“Got Milk,” “Where’s the Beef,” and “Plop, Plop, Fizz, Fizz.” The ubiquity of these catch phrases makes anyone in the selling game green with envy. What sales person wouldn’t want their product slogan to be quoted every day by millions of people? The question becomes, how does our industry do the same thing and get the American public to latch on to “The Outdoor Living is Fine,” “Outside, Another Room,” or “Let’s Go Outside”?

First of all we need leadership. That would come in the form of the International Casual Furniture Association (ICFA). And second, we would need money. You don’t think the cows are paying for those commercials, do you?

In the most recent issue of Home Furnishing Business, there is an article by Doug Kays titled, “Is HGTV Your Next Partner?” that addresses this. You can read the whole article at:

http://www.hfbusiness.com/story/story.bsp?sid=112427&var=story&ga_dir=Current%20Issue

but here are just a few highlights.

The National Home Furnishings Association (NHFA) and HGTV have partnered to create a marketing campaign. The campaign will drive consumers to the HGTV web site. There, consumers will find information to help them define what their decorating style will be, a room planner, color guides, pictures of furniture, video presentations about furniture constructions, and then pick a local HGTV Preferred Retailer to contact. This program allows the furniture industry to reach the consumer with an influential message from a trusted source, HGTV, at a national level.

This program is targeted to provide $15 million in media buys. That’s a lot of money but when it is spread over the entire membership of NHFA, it is very affordable. If a member normally spends 7% of its sales in advertising, and that is the industry norm, they would put 35 of those 700 basis points in the NHFA advertising pool. In other words, for every $1 million in sales, each member would only have to come up $3,500.

I think that ICFA should make it a priority to do something like this for the outdoor industry. It should partner with a home improvement cable channel to create a program that drives consumers to specialty retailers. As an aside, the August issue of Casual Living published the results of a recent survey run by Casual Living and HGTV Did you read it? If not, take a few minutes and look at it at:

http://www.casualliving.com/article/CA6585920.html?q=hgtv+survey

It shows that the first place 39.5% of consumers would shop for an outdoor conversation group would be at a home improvement center. Compare that to only 12.25% who would go first to a specialty store. I mean, really, how has our industry fallen so far behind?

I also suggest that “advertorial” placements are more effective than typical commercials. A television program about building, designing, or improving outdoor rooms with product placement would pique consumer interest more than a traditional commercial about outdoor furniture.

I am very excited about ICFA and its potential to push our industry forward. Our industry has so many projects that need to be addressed and, for the first time, with ICFA we have a vehicle to address those needs. I encourage everyone to join, and, more importantly, I encourage everyone to take an active role in the association.

Yours in confused retailing, Bruce