Editor's View

Connecting Disconnects

Gone are the days of “one size fits all” when it comes to home fashions products. Diversity in general is embraced in society today and the resulting fragmentation, prompted by consumers’ desires for personalization and customization because technologies can now enable that, is affecting almost every aspect of life.
Fragmentation can cause disconnects between those who develop, create and sell products and those who are the intended users. The key to business success lies in bridging gaps between disconnects created by the desire for diversity.
Did any of you watch the Emmy Awards for tv programs in September? In recent years viewership has been sliding for a couple of reasons. First, the average Joe doesn’t quite see why Hollywood pros paid big bucks for projects that may require only a few months work should be lauded when they slog away daily at 8-to-6 jobs without an ounce of recognition.
But an accompanying culprit causing the ratings decrease is the fact that though the Emmy Awards is broadcast on a traditional network channel, most of the shows nominated for awards are not shown there. And viewers who are fans of the shows nominated, seeing them via Amazon prime, HBO, Netflix or other venues, do not have the ability nor the desire to tune into the traditional tv network on which the awards are broadcast. The producers of the awards program have failed to adapt the show to a changing, more diversified tv audience. I’ve read that some movie critics dismissed the “Downton Abbey” film when reviewing it before it opened because they felt it was bound to attract only an older audience, who were the primary fans of the tv show. There has been so much emphasis on capturing the attention of Millennials and Gen Zs, that Baby Boomers seem to have been left in the dust. However, the film’s debut has been a whopping success due to those undervalued, overlooked mature viewers, who came out in droves to see the movie. The disconnect between critics and audience, and the subsequent movie’s success demonstrates that not catering to a fragmented segment of the population would have left “money on the table.”
The retail landscape is fragmented today as well. Some retailers, with the help of e-commerce, are opting to offer more product options at lower volumes to meet the demand for diversity. Companies that don’t bridge the disconnects created by changing, diversified consumers will be the ones left in the dust.
Rachel Griffiths, vice-president of sales for Caldeira, explains that U.K.-based Caldeira offers decorative pillows at all price points, with the higher-end products made in the U.K. and the more affordable offerings produced in China.
The China tariffs are making the China-made pillows imported into the U.S. more expensive. As a result, Griffiths explains that U.S. buyers have become more interested in the company’s higher-end U.K. lines because for the price, consumers are getting a greater value. Why spend more on a lesser quality pillow when you can get a more luxe offering for not a lot more money? Fortunately for Caldeira, it has the versatility to accommodate the change in product demand.
As Jack Toolan, president, Riviera Home USA, reveals in the beginning of our State of the Industry Report, “Defining Destinies,” today’s retail world is more complicated than ever and it takes greater competence in product development, design and business management than ever before to create meaningful, profit-making connections among suppliers, retailers and the customers they serve.