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Abdelnour Lauds Independents At MEGA Group Show

8/29/2011 09:48:58 AM Eastern

Nashville, Tenn. -
MEGA Group USA, the national buying group for independent appliance, CE,
furniture and bedding retailers, kicked off its biannual National Convention here
last week with a keynote address by Whirlpool North American sales VP Sam
Abdelnour.

 MEGA Group USA President Rick Bellows addresses members at their National Convention in Nashville.

His two-hour
presentation included a state-of-the-industry update and insights into favorable
appliance market trends.  "Over the past
four years independent retailers have stabilized, representing 20 percent of
the appliance industry, while the big-box retailers have declined," he
reported, while independent retailers comprise 27 percent of Whirlpool's
overall business, half of which is with the KitchenAid brand and one-third is with
Maytag.

He said a common
misconception is that consumers are spending less to replace broken appliances.
"We conduct 2,000 consumer exit interviews per quarter. This research shows
that consumers have every intention to upgrade their appliances with
innovation, benefits and styling.

"However," he
continued, "when they enter a big-box retailer and see a ‘sea of white,' and
left to their own devices, they tend to settle at the point of purchase. This
is where independent retailers can succeed, as you are fully invested in what
you do every day.  Leverage what you do
well. Your knowledge of the product and customer focus will give you the
advantage."

Abdelnour's
address also included information on new products, best-selling combinations,
purchase triggers, and advertising and promotion tips. 

The show, which
ran Aug. 25-28 at the Downtown Renaissance, was themed "Stay Connected, Be
Connected," to underscore the group's focus on further educating dealers on web
marketing.

"Online and
social-media marketing is critical to [our dealers'] success," said MEGA
president Rick Bellows. "As a leader in web marketing, it is our responsibility
and passion to continue to bring our dealers the knowledge they need to compete
online."

In his keynote,
Abdelnour also encouraged members to have an aggressive online presence, noting
that 60 percent of consumers research appliance products online before visiting
a store.  There are more subscribers to
consumer online reports than ever before, he told attendees, and consumers
trust those reports in the appliance category.

Abdelnour urged
members to adopt social media strategies including Facebook, Twitter and
blogging.  "We are the last generation to
read newspapers," he observed.  "Whirpool
believes that there is nothing more critical that having an avenue online
through websites and social media for consumers to find you."

To that end, MEGA extended
its WebFronts Premium Plus e-commerce program to the mattress and bedding
categories, effective with the show, and conducted informational sessions on
social media that included tips, techniques and best practices, along with a
special address by social-media expert and featured speaker Jeff Korhan.

MEGA says it is the
fastest-growing national home-furnishings buying organization in the country,
with 1,600 retail members operating 2,500 storefronts in the furniture,
electronic, appliance and mattress sectors.

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