Two out of five people who watch home shopping programs have made a purchase, according to research by the Aragon Consulting Group. By region, people who live in the eastern part of the United States are most likely to buy items through television shop-at-home programs. Television-shopping consumers frequently are married and between 35 and 54 years old. Of households with incomes between $50,000 and $75,000, 57 percent have watched a television shopping channel and made a purchase. The next most active buying segment is households with incomes over $75,000.
Does this mean an era of shop-at-home programs featuring window coverings is on the horizon? Not likely. The average bill of a television shopping purchase is $125 with 42 percent of home shoppers reporting the most expensive item they bought was between $50 and $75. Two-thirds of purchases were spontaneous.
There also are distinct disadvantages to shop-at-home television programming. For example, the second biggest problem with home shopping, sited by almost 20 percent of viewers/shoppers, is that they hesitate to buy because they can't touch or view products prior to purchase. Furthermore, nearly 30 percent of home shoppers list the number one problem with TV purchases as a perceived lack of quality stemming from a perception of poor product knowledge and over-hyped sales pitches.
What does all this mean for the window coverings professional? Recognize that customers value the convenience of shop-at-home services. But make every effort to offer color, finish and fabric samples for visual and tactile impact. As an expert, you should be prepared to educate your customers and provide them with as much design and product information as possible.
In addition, window coverings professionals should not curtail advertising and marketing efforts during the summer months. Studies conducted by Penton Research Services show consumers are not "just on vacation" and uninterested in buying during this time of year. The buying process takes an average of one to 3 1/2 months, with many buyers beginning the initial steps of the process for fall orders during the summer.
Many consumers may use summer to catch up on reading and research home improvement opportunities. So, year-round advertising helps maintain a top-of-mind awareness for a window coverings professional's services and increases the chance that customers will contact them when they're ready to buy.
However, if advertising expenditures must be reduced during the summer months, use this time to work one-on-one with your media representative. Have them research special co-op funds, marketing partnerships and gather advertising support materials.
Point of Purchase Power
Lastly, make every moment count when customers visit your retail showroom. Up to 70 percent of all purchase decisions are made in the store, according to a study by the Point of Purchase Advertising Institute.
One retail study shows the average shopping trip has shrunk by 10 minutes in recent years. Richard Nathan, head of RTC, one the largest point-of-purchase design and production companies in the United States says, "Retailers and consumer product companies face a terrible dynamic trying to sell a product today. Margins are down and consumers are spending less time in stores."
One of the most powerful and efficient ways to reach an audience is through POP -- point of purchase advertising and merchandising. The definition of POP is anything at the point of sale that attracts customers and makes it easier for people to buy products.
POP is fast becoming "in-store media." This can include everything from flip cards to interactive automated displays. According to Rex Davenport, editor of POP Times, "Every time you put something on display, it sells better."
A recent study done for POP Times showed an in-store display combined with a 15 percent price reduction produced a sales lift of 279 percent! More impressive, the combined effect of a discount, advertising feature, in-store display and feature/display synergy increased average sales by 545 percent!
In summary, seamless advertising and marketing can make in-store visits or shop-at-home presentations readily understandable and attractive to consumers, maximizing the purchasing experience.
Scott Fawcett is senior vice president of sales and marketing at Springs Window Fashions Division, Middleton, WI.
Sponsored by Springs Window Fashions Division
"Customer Bonding, Pathway to Lasting Customer Loyalty," Richard Cross and Janet Smith; NTC Business Books, 1995. "Do It Yourself Direct Marketing: Secrets for Small Business," Mark S. Bacon; American Demographics Books; 1992. POP Times magazine. "The One to One Future: Building Relationships One Customer at a Time," Don Peppers and Martha Rogers, Ph.D.; 1993. American Demographics Books.