The endless, tiresome, commercial Holiday Season finally expired sometime in February. Credit cards had been maxed out; shoppers were spent out in money and spirit. No wonder. The special, super-everything overkill ads during the commercial season ran about four months long. That’s one-third of a year for Christmas pre-, post- and today’s sales.
Our mailboxes were filled, even before Halloween, with “seasonal”
discounts. Santa competed with Halloween candy sales.
Multi-page, full-color inserts, courtesy of your major discount
outlet, offered discounts ranging form 30 to 70 percent off. (The
original price was not always mentioned.) The percentages off soared
upward as Christmas approached, reaching the top during New Year
sales periods, then declined slowly through January. Prices seemed
to reach a final, inflated plateau during February. These new, higher
low prices will be the basis for spring and summer promotions.
In October 2005, after the super discounts for September “Home
Decorating Days,” the pre-Halloween, pre-Christmas sales and
huge discounts will begin anew. Discounts may be much greater. Maybe
some year, retailers will offer free products with just a 20 percent
We American shoppers are now pre-conditioned. We react only to the
stimulus of “unbelievable” discounts or rebates.
Window coverings ads were mostly absent during the season. Some
of the inserts showed various products with large discounts. Apparently,
the large-volume retailers believe that only low prices will sell
As a veteran ad man whose company helped pioneer the concept of
“window beauty for homes,” I’ve been discouraged
by the reliance on discounted prices as the only advertising and
sales feature for window coverings.
True, the reality of low-price merchandising is important for our
continued response, but for many homemakers the image of beautiful
window styling in their homes is just as important. Maybe it’s
time to review our appeals. The basic reasons, other than price,
for purchasing window coverings still are home beauty, energy savings,
light control and color accents.
Are there ways for window coverings retailers to compete against
the goliath of price savings? Most of the small retailers who tried
to match big-store discounts head-on are now out of business. Or
they have settled for lower-volume sales based on customer service
and information marketing.
Occasionally, almost hidden among the many inserts, I would see
a small, single-page mailer, quarter-page newspaper ad or a radio
commercial in which the old end-use appeals were mentioned. Such
ads were good to bring in-store or in-home leads.
Also, as usual, JC Penney and other high-style department store
retailers used ads, large and small, combining full-color window
treatments and discounted price quotations. Such ads have worked
for years. Designer/decorator ads are much the same. They feature
custom window stylings for home and office. Minimum copy is used,
just a number to call. The ads are intended for the audiences of
design and interiors magazines.
In window coverings trade magazines and special shelter magazines,
Hunter Douglas often leads the way. Flair promotions use impressive,
beautifully designed multi-page brochures and full-page color advertisements.
The ad campaigns focus on settings featuring the company’s
various products and dealer sales-promotion materials.
Beautiful windows and how to utilize window coverings to promote
sales is naturally the theme of industry magazines. D&WC runs
a monthly colorful portfolio of window decorating for various rooms
in the home (see page 38). Also, of special interest is a “successful
retailer” series. Each month a detailed article reports on
how one window coverings retail owner has achieved a measure of
success with varied communications and selling programs.
NEW LUXURY MARKET
Promoting your store as a “window beauty”
headquarters can work. As the new luxury home markets expand as
incomes increase, the interest in interior design products and uses
grows as well.
“Window beauty” is just one appeal. With fuel prices at
all-time highs, so is energy savings, tie-ins with classic designs,
lifestyles and new window coverings products. “Window charm,”
“Extreme makeover for your windows”—there are many
themes to consider.
All you need is some extra thought and enthusiasm plus, of course,
a budget to make the needed investment. It’s all easier said
than done, but there are roads to take to achieve increased sales
other than discount pricing.
In years past, our staff here at D&WC created and produced a
series of suggested advertisements to use in local ads and other
print materials. We called them Ad-a-grams. In all, for more than
12 years, we distributed more than 400 different small ads to our
subscriber retailers. We used all kinds of window coverings products
and sales themes in the ads.
According to our records, the most popular ads were “personality”
ads. In them, we tied in individual preferences and personality
types with products and decorating themes. Years later, we still
receive an occasional request for the most desired ads.
No subject is more intriguing to a person than another person. We
watch TV personalities and their guests. We study people in public
places. We try to guess what other people are like. Most of all,
we are interested in ourselves.
Smart advertisers use themes that associate products with desirable
traits and behaviors. Most often, they try to tie in sexy behavior
with product appeal. If you want other ad appeals, try to associate
window stylings with personality themes.
Windows, too, can become sophisticated, lovely, pleasing, warm,
happy, luxurious, plain and simple, cheerful, cool, classic, smart.
They can reflect your lifestyle in many ways.
Think about it. As noted before, “There’s more to your
style and home than inexpensive window stylings.” More on this
theme next time.
John J. Lichty is a consultant and senior editor for Draperies
& Window Coverings magazine. He has more than 30 years experience
in the planning and administration of various consumer, trade and
retail advertising programs.
Window Treatment Advertising is a regular feature in Draperies
& Window Coverings examining many ways in which retailers can
make the best use of their time, efforts and resources to create effective
marketing and promotional campaigns. Past articles dating back to
1996 can be found on D&WC’s online archive categorized by
author and subject: www.dwconline.com/ DWC/ArticleIndex.html.