What is your value proposition? | Bill McLoughlin

Ask most retailers this important question, and you’ll likely get a response that includes mention of things like price-value relationships and product quality. There might also be mention of elements related to breadth of assortment or superior customer service.

In the most common context, all of these are reasonable answers and are the attributes that define the traditional communication between most furniture retailers and their customers. It is a context defined by the perceived competitive environment in which similar business models compete against one another to capture the attention and discretionary dollars of a consumer looking to make a purchase.

The difficulty is that there are several underlying presumptions in that model that do not align with the reality of today’s marketplace.

The first is the perception of competition. At one time brick-and-mortar stores competed against other brick-and-mortar stores, most often in the same community. In that environment, price, assortment and service served as effective differentiators along with the ability to negotiate exclusivity on key lines.

In today’s environment, any given retailer is not only competing against like-formatted stores but also against massive, multi-line e-commerce giants, direct-to-consumer brands, myriad niche furnishings sites, mass merchants and other multi-line retail formats.

While individual players within these channels come and go, the multiplicity of options available to consumers at any given time remains massive and continues to become more diverse and complex.

The second questionable assumption underlying traditional value proposition definitions is that the aim is to capture the discretionary dollars of consumers looking to make a purchase. One of the key challenges furniture retailers have faced for the past two years is a shortage of consumers looking to make a purchase.

But what if we phrased the question this way: What is the value proposition for furniture in the lifestyle of today’s consumer?

If you’re selling a mattress for example, what is the value proposition of a good night’s sleep or a healthier and likely longer life? That’s a very different answer and a very different conversation with consumers who are less likely to be choosing between two furniture or mattress stores and far more likely to be choosing between a mattress purchase vs. a movie, concert, sporting event or vacation.

That’s the value proposition discussion that the furniture and mattress industry need to start having with consumers, one that defines the way that attractive, thoughtfully designed furnishings can enhance someone’s daily life.

You can see that some savvy Top 100s are starting to expand the lifestyle approach of their advertisings to better connect with consumer aspirations.

To the extent that the industry can more clearly articulate the value proposition of home furnishings in the context of enhancing consumers lives, it will go much further toward bringing consumers back to stores than offering a larger discount or a longer payment plan.

Certainly, for those already in the market, there is validity to creating a strong traditional value proposition.

But, for a new generation of consumers, the discussion needs to become broader and more aligned with their lifestyles.

So, let me ask the question again: What is your value proposition?

See also: Rethinking ‘the Amazon effect’ and other consumer expectations | Bill McLoughlin

The post What is your value proposition? | Bill McLoughlin appeared first on Furniture Today.