It’s A Mad [Men] World
By Wanda Jankowski, Editor-in-Chief
In the April 1, 2012 episode of AMC tv’s Mad Men series, Roger Sterling, middle-aged, heavy-drinking partner in the Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce ad agency, laments to fellow agency partner, Don Draper, about his being upstaged by young protégé, Peter Campbell, and desperately expresses his failure to remain relevant. He says as he exits Draper’s office, “When is everything going to get back to normal?”
Like the employees of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, we are all in a state of economic and social flux today. Uncertainty and change are our new normal.
Some believe that because the industry is mature and consumer dollars are still tight that there is little to no growth achievable and that an individual company’s growth involves stealing business from someone else rather than mining new fields.
However, growth is in the eye of the beholder. And during N.Y. Home Fashions Market, many suppliers enthusiastically told stories about where they are heading next to create new business.
Home Source International has expanded beyond home textiles into seating, surfaces and lighting. Designer Joe Manus is the creative force behind the Shiner brand of “killer design” furniture and lighting that Home Source is making in the U.S. from landfill-destined materials.
Though only established a couple of years ago, J.Queen New York is run by tried-and-true industry professionals. From the outset, they determined to go after a broad client target, serving not only retailers in the U.S., but retailers abroad as well. With sales reps in Europe, it is logical to set their sights on Russia as a new market. Recently, they distributed thousands of piece goods books to decorators there.
Mark Ferullo from Rizzy Home says, “You need to address every channel of distribution today to succeed.” Rizzy Home strives to offer something for everyone at every price point in order to achieve that goal. It recently added designs by West Coast artist Anna Redmond, whose contemporary style has appeal for a younger audience.
Randy Wright from Taymor Industries is a master at creating new products that are relevant to consumers’ lifestyles today and at ferreting out new retail niches for his company’s bath accessory products. Recently, he created a line of upscale goods to participate in web-only flash sales with great success.\
Growing business and finding new customers isn’t easy. It often requires the ability to see customers and products in a different light—to remain relevant—so you can fulfill consumers’ needs and preferences as their lifestyle circumstances change.
If you are feeling stuck in your business, like Roger Sterling, moving forward may be a question of mindset. No matter what the overall prognosis for industry growth is, flexible thinking can point the way to an individual company’s success. Step one is accepting that you can’t remain stagnant, waiting for the “normal” of the past to return. There is a “new normal” for everyone today.