Differentiate by Design
It has become increasingly difficult to satisfy customers whose expectations are higher and loyalties more transient. Consumers have become progressively more selective and informed of products thanks to Google, Facebook, and Instagram, among other product marketing platforms. As a result, when a customer enters a store, he is really looking to discover something completely new from what he has found online.
The importance of design as a composite in the strategic mix is often undervalued or ignored. Yet, it may present an important competitive tool by which small/medium–sized businesses can compete more efficiently. So it is crucial to understand first what design is? While design has been around for decades, it has become much more mainstream in the past two decades thanks to the savvy marketing strategies, blurring the lines between something clever and an object with a novel artistic vision. Many brands now use design as a commodity to appeal to aspirational customers who likewise have lost a sense of where design starts or ends. Our belief as a representative of design-driven brands is that good design addresses the following key elements:
1. Fulfills a need
2. Satisfies a wish
3. Shares a story
4. Respects the material
5. Its timeless
Filling these boxes for brands and products is actually challenging, and is when one of these fails that the customer's loyalty weakens. The reality is that the relationship between the seller and the customer goes beyond that of a monetary exchange; today's customer looks for their retailers to be curators, style guides and treasure hunters. The effectiveness of the seller/customer relationship is dependent upon the sellers's ability to offer something extraordinary and truly unique that both Amazon or the store down the block can't offer.
Easier said than done, especially where the channels to meet new vendors have remained the same and relatively uniform. Data shows that most store owners buy 70% of their stock in one or two trade shows. If everyone is buying from the same brands, how is your business differentiating from the one down the block? Diversify.
Diversity is at the core of the greatest civilizations and businesses; it gives new ingredients to question the status quo and pushes the envelope higher. Have you heard of Michael Aram or Areaware? Of course, you have, and so have your customers, but bring them a new narrative from another part of their world that speaks about your values and interest, and you have their attention. Whether a customer has traveled or not, all customers are now international citizens through the window of their phones. They discover and explore travel locations, food, politics, and more perspectives than ever before. Why not do the same through a buying experience? By no means this implies all products should be internationally sourced, just offer different perspectives: from female-owned businesses, minority-owned creatives, up-and-coming artist—people whose voice needs a microphone.
At our forefront, we aim to provide buyers with original, carefully curated products that empower them to create magic and wonder. We seek to build a unified community through a shared appreciation for design, art, craft, and quality. In light of the new economic and health developments, we aspire to help our industry move forward by providing a space for growth, facilitating collaboration and engagement, as well as planning ahead for the rapidly shifting future of the retail environment. We believe that our unique products can present consumers with the opportunities to explore what the world has to offer and provide them with a new perspective on its everyday functions.