13373 Thu, 12/20/2007 - 5:00pm
By Nancy Meyer
While the slogan "fresh is best" was created for the food industry, it certainly applies to the wall decor business.
Retailers that stay on top of fashion trends and keep a constant flow of goods in stores are the ones that are faring best in this challenging environment, vendors said.
"The art world is very closely related to fashion," said Gia Finamore, president of Holoma Inc., which is unveiling The Trump Art Collection online this month.
Because fashion trends change so frequently, vendors strive to keep up with new, fresh goods reflecting the current color palettes, combinations and themes.
"The velocity of product is really crucial," said Jonathan Bass, president of PTM Images. "If [the consumer] didn't buy that pink floral yesterday, she won't buy it tomorrow."
While most retailers stick to their planograms and review the category just twice a year, more of the volume players are asking for regular updates in the art market, sources told HFN.
"Some have asked to be sent monthly updates, and if they can squeeze them in they will," said Arthur Rivera, marketing director at ICA Home Decor.
Vendors cited Ross Stores, Home Goods and T.J. Maxx as keeping it fresh and reaping the rewards.
Although tastes vary regionally, good art is good art, and several key trends are doing well.
Botanicals, leaves and the whole nature theme continue to be strong across the board.
"Birds are uptrending," Bass said.
Tuscan is still doing well, and there's also a movement to abstracts, vendors said.
Coastal images are strong now for ICA's accounts, particularly a combination of coastal and spa-related in a muted color palette of sea foam green, teals and anything with frosting that exudes a sense of serenity, Rivera said. Selective Buddha images have also retailed, when they related more to the serenity look than the global theme, he said.
Finally, the aqua and chocolate combination is retailing, after being in the market for a few seasons. "Now, it's more organic, with leaves and birds, so it's more salable," Rivera said.
Indeed, chocolate has become the base color for a lot of styles, as it relates to furniture finishes that are selling.
"Coloration seems to be driving the business," said Steve Zeigler, executive vice president of sales for PTM Images. "We feel very strongly that color is the most important driving factor." Light blue is finally becoming more mainstream than it was, he added.
"The art business has come full circle," Bass observed. "It started out as art by the pound, then it changed to a focus on better goods, and then China art and alternative art came into play," which is where many mass and volume retailers are today.
Artwork under glass still represents the lion's share of the market for many mass players, but it's become very promotional. Vendors are developing new ways to add value and dimension to their under-glass offerings to set them apart.
The mirror business has faced similar pressure, forcing vendors to differentiate. "The framed mirror business, however, is much tougher than in the past," said Mac Cooper, president of The Uttermost Co.
"There is substantial pressure to hit lower price points, while our designs are far more complicated with more mixed materials," he said.
In terms of display, stack-out displays--a commodity approach--have been productive, including pallet programs or point-of-sale boxes that are placed on an aisle.
"People are trying to drive sales--they're more aggressive with this category than they used to be," Zeigler said.
Some majors are going back to presenting by a trend or themes, vendors said. Whereas it's easy for a retailer to merchandise wall decor by vendor, there's a lot of duplication of themes, which makes it difficult for consumers to shop. Consumers will reward retailers who offer a cohesive statement, vendors said.
For Holoma, the consumer-direct Trump launch represents something new in the art business. To skirt the issue of duplication and cross-shopping, and to give consumers fresh art every month, Holoma is launching the trumpartcollection.com gallery.
Holoma works with exclusive artists and each piece carries a certificate of authenticity so "consumers can buy art with confidence" that it won't show up at the discount store at a cheaper price, Finamore said. The collection includes exclusive original art and limited editions starting at $100 and going to more than $10,000.