By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
The Brand Source buying group held its largest-ever convention and buying fair last week, with both attendance and show floor space up 35 percent over last year's summer show.
The event, which sprawled across the Paris and Bally's hotels here, represented the first time that all Brand Source regional chapters and divisions, including MARTA, Brand Source Canada, Flooring Plus and the group's new rent-to-own affiliate, TRIB, convened at one convention.
The gathering of the tribes gave impetus to Brand Source's long-term goal of creating a Whole Home Source brand banner and e-commerce site. The concept would represent “a circle of sales that leverages everyone's strengths and provides a one-stop solution for all the home needs of time-starved customers,” said executive director Bob Lawrence. “We can own this space,” he told attendees, citing Sears and Costco, with its two current Costco Home stores, as the only national retailers that currently serve the CE, majaps, flooring and furniture markets.
Shorter term, the focus of the 3,000-member buying organization continues to be on building brand recognition for the group will continue its advertising and in-program shows with Scripps Network's Fine Living, HGTV, Food Network and DIY cable channels. Brand Source will also become the sponsor, effective next month, for home improvement icon Bob Vila and his lineup of TV programming.
In addition, Brand Source's sponsorship of the John Force drag racing team has expanded to cover additional funny cars and dragsters, while the family's hit reality TV show “Driving Force” — which follows the exploits of John and his daughters Ashley, Brittany and Courtney — has helped further raise Brand Source awareness through the placement of sponsorship logos on uniforms, helmets and cars.
The branding effort is apparently paying solid dividends. Brand Source is taking market share from its competitors in both white- and brown-goods, Lawrence noted, with year-to-date majap unit sales up 5.1 percent compared to the industry's 2 percent to 3 percent increases, while year-to-date CE unit sales have grown 21 percent vs. the industry's 8 percent gains.
What's more, members who utilize Brand Source signage and other branding elements now enjoy 10 percent greater sales on average than dealers that don't, Lawrence noted. The disparity is up from an 8 percent delta last year, which is another indication that Brand Source awareness is growing, he said.
Elsewhere, the group has completely revamped its e-commerce Web site with more interactive features, current promotions, a more user-friendly interface, a CE shopping cart, and certain enhancements that will assure that a Brand Source member dealer will head the results of any local shopping search on Google.
Besides raising group awareness, drag racer Force, who appeared at the show with daughter Ashley, lent the convention its theme: “Brand Source, a force to be reckoned with.”
“Never before has such a diverse group come together to create a driving force in the industry,” Lawrence said. Between its branding, health insurance, warehousing, credit card, warranty, financing and human resources programs, Brand Source is “better positioned than anyone to take advantage of industry trends and make your businesses grow. We will be recognized as a force to be reckoned with.”
Brand Source will next convene March 25-27, 2007, at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas.
This TWICE webinar, hosted by senior editor Alan Wolf, will take a look at what may be the hottest CE products at retail that will be sold during the all-important fourth quarter. Top technologies, market strategies and industry trends will be discussed with industry analysts and executives.