Department of Youth
By Duke Ratliff
Vendors at the World Market Center for the Las Vegas Winter Market last month turned their efforts to the somewhat-untapped youth market.
Makers of casegoods, ready-to-assemble furniture, mattresses and occasional furniture all targeted younger generations with introductions and marketing campaigns, while introductions from even the most traditional vendors ventured into a slightly less-mature markets by emphasizing transitional and contemporary--and sometimes less-expensive--offerings.
Aspenhome targeted what it calls the "Millennial Generation," the older part of Gen Y. A video described the buying habits of what Aspen said is a 77-million- strong consumer segment, while floor-to-ceiling images of "Millennials" featured catch-phrases such as "The right fit for my room," "The most for my dollar," "To stay connected," and "Eco-friendly choices."
"Our research indicates that this next generation of consumer is not like the ones before them," said Bryan Edwards, aspenhome vice president of sales. "Technlogy is in the Millennials' DNA. They grew up on computers and digital media. They are value conscious and with the help of the computers, cell phones and iPads, they easily search for information and the best buys."
To attract this technology-driven generation, aspenhome added new twists to its existing offerings, such as a bedroom entertainment chest with a top pullout drawer to accommodate a laptop. Similarly, the company added a pullout laptop workstation drawer to its dining room server.
Aspenhome also targeted younger consumers with two new collections, Lincoln Park and Tamarind. Lincoln Park bedroom and dining room offerings are comprised of transitional styles featuring exotic-looking veneers accented with a ribbon mahogany finish. Tamarind bedroom and dining groups feature sophisticated, urban looks with a chutney finish and eastern influence.
Sealy launched a youthful, humorous marketing campaign for its Next Generation Posturepedic mattress. Dubbed "Whatever You Do in Bed, Sealy Supports It," the campaign reflects "a more modern view of the role of mattresses in everyday life," according to Jodi Allen, chief marketing officer at Sealy. "Our research found people do much more in bed than sleep; there's a whole lot of living in bed."
With that in mind, new Sealy television spots highlight life's moments in bed--from jumping on the bed to working late nights on the laptop to folding laundry. The new marketing campaign also has a greater focus on digital and social media--including its first application--to reflect today's consumer. Inspired by the fortune cookie game that adds "in bed" to the end of a fortune, the new app allows consumers to create humorous photos by adding the phrase "in bed" to real-world billboards, magazines and signs. Users can then upload the photos to social media websites such as Facebook and Flickr.
Furniture vendor Powell tapped into the young consumer market with colorful accent pieces. "We're introducing colors and fashions targeting the 28- to 38-year-old age groups," said John Conrad, Powell's senior vice president of marketing. Conrad pointed to a new line of bar stools in striking colors as an example. Conrad added that the company is reenergizing its brand with a new, spruced up website and a new sales catalog.
Even the most traditional furniture brands rolled out more contemporary lines in Las Vegas. Lexington Home Brands debuted 11 South, a collection of more modern designs with clean lines and fabrics reflecting menswear patterns. Colors range from silver gray to warm taupe.
"Contemporary design has become a touchstone for the sophisticated consumer," said Phil Haney, Lexington's chief executive officer. "They are looking for styling that makes a statement, an eclectic blend of materials, a distinctive finish, and the validation of a trusted brand."
Lexington also showed a less expensive addition to its Tommy Bahama offerings called Beach House, a casual lifestyle collection with details like reeded posts and drawer fronts, bent rattan, leather-wrapped bamboo and woven cane. "Beach House is designed to offer exceptional value for consumers looking for a relaxed lifestyle that is casual and cool--be it in a condo, a loft apartment, or a bungalow on the beach," Haney said.
Meanwhile, Broyhill moved transitional collections to the front of its Las Vegas showroom. "As the world becomes more casual, Broyhill has ramped up our product launches in the contemporary and transitional arena," said Lisa Hanly, senior brand manager.
Broyhill showcased the Alliance collection, with contemporary pieces for the bedroom, living room and dining room featuring sleek, curved wood pieces with polished nickel hardware. Broyhill also showed upholstery with a modern flair, with low-profile pillow seating for a more casual look.