“Consumers around the world with financial means have spent a lot of time and money trying to master the holy trinity of health: a good diet, exercise and rarely, sleep,” notes a Dec. 20, 2020, Jing Daily article (http://bit.ly/3ekd9Se). “A good diet in markets where obesity rates have increased steadily is getting a lot more attention.”
Premium and luxury exercise activities such as Peloton, Lululemon or Mirror have been rising in popularity. Exercise has been gaining ground over recent years. Understanding that luxury consumers are obsessed with health and wellness will make destination showrooms a trend in 2021. Millennials want to look good and feel good, and our products fit right in with their goals.
I wanted to start with a discussion of very fundamental, let’s call it “blocking and tackling” for the true destination showroom. As showrooms meet safety standards for retail in 2021, “COVID-19 may well prove, in hindsight, to have been a catalyst for positive changes — changes that were made possible by creativity, optimism and resolve,” reports a Dec. 25, 2020, Jing Daily article (http://bit.ly/30rvtkd).
Being aware of your body language in the COVID mask world is something showroom employees need to practice. The level of animation and excitement needs to increase to enhance the theater of sales. For example, “smizing” — or smiling with your eyes, as coined by Tyra Banks — is just one of the many things to consider. Your employees should take time in a mirror and practice looking happy behind a mask. While I mentioned this in previous columns, I see the need to keep reinforcing this practice.
•. Enriching your vocabulary. Yes, take the time to learn more emotional, not rational, phrases to help sell products. Asking customers to imagine how something will make them feel when at home — such as a great pair of fuzzy slippers or their favorite robe — will help get product out the door. Using the same emotional phrases and connecting them to health and wellness is even better. Think of it as storytelling.
• Enlighten your expressions. While “amazing” is highly overused these days, sincere, genuine excitement for products you sell is critical. The hard part is offering products you are legitimately excited about, and taking the proper training from reps to be excited about them on an aesthetic and mechanical level.
For example: “You would not believe how incredible this shower system will make you feel.” Having this kind of passion for what you sell is a rare talent — and possessing the same level of desire to help someone solve a problem in their home is equally important.
• Gestures. Be careful here; I am not asking you to turn into a Muppet. I am asking you to move with grace and elegance but also inject a little theater into what you do. Keep in mind, the customer can’t see your face, so excitement now must come more from the body.
• Control. No physical contact. Avoid handshakes and fist-bumps. Know that the luxury interaction is going to be perfectly fine without any of that. Understand that the more affluent consumer is hyper-aware of their health, safety and security. Whether you like using a mask or not, discussing your like or dislike of wearing a mask is off the table. You don’t know if the consumer you are working with has lost a loved one through COVID-19, so play by the rules and avoid the mask discussion.
• Practice. Yes, get in the mirror, often. None of this can come off as overly animated and Broadway-play-level intensity. It should be as I mentioned — genuine excitement for what you sell. This excitement should not only be for the product but the benefits to the lifestyle of the customer.
More than blocking and tackling, a great luxury showroom understands and displays product to different consumer segments. We all understand females and millennials drive the luxury market. An example of this would be having a pet wash station shown in a mudroom vignette in your store — perfect millennial display.
Depending on your market, though, displays should also cater to the Indian or Asian consumers, which hold the lion’s share of spending power in many areas. This may mean using a minimalistic design approach or different uses of colors and products to dial-in to the shoppers’ interests.
While many showrooms are displaying well and catering to their markets, there is a need to understand customer needs in different cultural segments and handle them with proper sensitivity and thought. Foundationally, all segments want to find new and innovative products to make their lives better and their homes more comfortable.
The train wreck that was 2020 has helped raise awareness to a healthy mind and body as much more than just a trend. Focusing on these trends and how to communicate is key. Living through the biggest pandemic in a century is accelerating a shift toward spending time and money on their homes. The faster you can attract and develop different customer segments in your market, the better.
As consumers move away from buying luxury to fit in toward buying it for themselves, health and wellness-related products in our category will be poised to accelerate further. Think about what the WFH (work from home) professionals are doing now — no travel, no need for new clothing, more time around the house. Ensuring your displays are more upscale than ever and that your showroom looks and feels like a lifestyle center is a winning strategy.
The impact of COVID-19 will be positive for improved home design. Lifestyle priority, including eating habits (more cooking = kitchen remodel), fitness rooms (opportunity for steam/sauna) and enhanced bathing experiences, will all lend well to our business models.
This should help the decorative showroom channel substantially for years to come. The key is to create a digital strategy that positions you as the expert here, draw your target customers to allow you to do some storytelling, and create the excitement needed to get the orders rolling in. This pandemic is truly an opportunity for decorative showrooms like no other.