13366 Thu, 12/20/2007 - 4:41pm
Consider this: Two modernized Persian designs with similar colorways hang side-by-side in a rug gallery. The one on the left is labeled something along the lines of "724-b" and is counting on its good looks for a sale. The one on the right is from something called "The Peshawar Collection," and a hang tag affixed to its front tells the history of Peshawar rugs: where they originated, where and how they are made today, what the different motifs woven throughout the design itself represent. It even shows a few photos: baskets overflowing with a rainbow of wool, a weaver in the process of knotting, young men treating a rug to a luster wash.
Now, if you were the consumer, which rug would you rather discuss at your next dinner party? I know which one I would buy.
As players in this business, you must remind yourselves every day of a very basic fact: The average consumer simply does not know what it means for a rug to be hand-knotted or hand-tufted. (Quite honestly, a mere three-and-a-half years ago, I didn't know either.) They don't realize there is history and longevity, heirloom potential even, in the purchase of a hand-knotted rug. And they would never dream to assume an individual piece has been taken outside and washed by hand. But that doesn't mean they wouldn't care.
You as an industry have commented to me on this very fact, but the only way for the situation to change is for the industry to change it. When you sit down for your meetings in Atlanta this week, discuss opportunities for educational merchandising. Is there selling floor space available for standing displays illustrating the weaving process? Would an enlarged hang tag be more appropriate? A few vendors have already developed video presentations to acquaint retail salespeople with their products and their origins. What about taking that concept into the store for the shoppers' education as well?
Consumers like to make a personal connection with the products they take home. It's why basements, attics and mini-storage units around the globe overflow with items they simply can't bear to get rid of. Telling them the story of your product can help make that connection and that will lead to a purchase.
The mind stagnates if left idle, so give the consumer something to think about and have faith in their desire to learn. They have forgotten algebra, but they have brain space available for something new. Show them how your products come to be. Give them something to talk about.
Jennifer Quail is the group editor, floor covering, textiles. She can be reached at
firstname.lastname@example.org - mail>email@example.com.