Key To Attracting Furniture Shoppers "Is Right Under the Retailer's Nose"Beemer says

HIGH POINT, NC - April 23, 1998 - America's furniture retailers need to concentrate on the basics in order to attract consumers into their stores says Britt Beemer, the country's leading consumer research analyst in the furniture industry.

"Many retailers depend on clever new advertising campaigns or slogans to drive store traffic and in the process they overlook the basic motivations that determine whether consumers will even consider shopping in their stores," Beemer said at a news conference on Opening Day of the Spring International Home Furnishings Market.

The single most important consideration in the consumer's mind in determining whether to shop a store, Beemer said, is store pride.

"Customers want to know that they will be taken care of if they have a problem," said the founder and Senior Research Analyst of America' s Research Group.

Store pride is followed closely in consumers' minds by store appearance, Beemer added.

"The appearance of the store sends a signal to customers about how financially stable the company is," he said. With the rapid changes in fUrniture retailing furniture shoppers have become extremely suspicious of whether retail operations will survive, Beemer said, pointing out that a decade ago there were more than 16,000 furniture stores nationally while today that number has dropped to around 12,000.

"We know from research we have seen or conducted in North America, Europe and Asia that American consumers are two to three times more appearance driven than shoppers in other countries," he said.

"Dirty stores, gaps in product displays, missing hardware on furniture and incomplete groupings send the signal to potential customers that the store might not be there next week," he said.Furniture shoppers are even more attune to store appearance considerations than retail shoppers generally, Beemer said, citing a "Consumer Mind Reader" TM survey which appears in the new paperback version of his best-selling book, Predatory Marketing: What Everyone in Business Needs to Know about Today's Consumer. While financial stability ranked fifth in the overall survey of retail buying considerations, it was a strong second place for furniture shoppers.

In Beemer' s "Top 10 List" of consumer concerns, store pride and financial stability are followed by:

#3 The store sells outdated or used merchandise, which ranked 14th among consumer considerations of all retailers.

#4 Style or breadth of selection in the store. -#5 Exterior appearance of the store.

"Consumers ask themselves as they drive by a furniture store whether it's worth their time to go in, whether the store lives up to its advertising image," Beemer said. He added that six percent of furniture shoppers drive into store parking lots and leave without ever going inside because they are unimpressed with the store's outward appearance.

#6 The store's quality of merchandise, which ranked #2 in the overall retail survey.

#7 The store's commitment to a furniture category. ''A customer can tell just by walking through a store whether a retailer is serious about selling recliners, mattresses, leather or other types of furniture,' he said.

#8 The store has legitimate sale prices. "The customer has to see point of purchase displays or signage to indicate that; the products are really on sale," he said.

#9 The store's products and pricing must match the advertising they have seen and read, which ranked #12 in the overall retail survey.

#10 The store manger's personality, rated #6 in the minds of retail consumers generally.

America's Research Group conducted the survey to determine consumer attitudes about furniture retailers during September and October, 1997.

Beemer' s book, Predatory Marketing, was published by William Morrow and Company in 1997. The softbound version was released earlier this year. America's Research Group is the leading consumer research firm in the retail industry. Since its founding in 1979, ARG has interviewed more than three million American consumers, adding to its database with 5,000 to 8,000 new consumer interviews each week.

Copyright © 1998 by America's Research Group

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