National Harbor, Md. - In a tough economy Nationwide Marketing Group reports it is growing faster than the CE and major appliance industries so far this year.
However, to do so it has pulled out all the stops - working closer with top vendors to get the best deals, refining promotions, offering retail training and marketing programs and reminding members not to walk away from low-end sales that drive traffic.
That was the message today from Ed Kelly, president, Robert
Weisner, executive VP/director, Les Kirk, director, Mike Decker, electronics
merchandising senior VP and Adam Thomas, major appliance merchandising senior
VP, who spoke with the media at meetings during the group's PrimeTime convention,
taking place at the Gaylord National Resort, here this week.
The group said it estimates its sales at $11 billion for this year is projecting its members (2,800 as of Dec. 31, 2009) to do $12 billion from the end of the year.
Weisner said growth has not come easy, with the current economic condition and the "channel conflict in CE and appliances" with many vendors selling a wide variety of retailers the same products.
He said, Nationwide's members "need to be at our meeting, not just for the buys, but the marketing and merchandising ideas. They need to get back to the basics of running their businesses. We have plenty of promotions but we have refined them in this economy - bringing back Christmas in July sales, tent sales. Some members have pitched layaway sales again."
In major appliances, that represents 50 percent of the group's sales he said, "We learned more from the Energy Star stimulus program taught us if you offer consumers in this economy a great deal, they will buy."
He added, Nationwide was very aggressive with the program with one of its retailers earning 10 percent of its state's Energy Star stimulus funds. In addition, he said that in majaps, "This will be a very promotional second half" with Nationwide's Labor Day sale being "the most aggressive [appliance] holiday sale we have ever had. And will duplicate it going forward. We are not going to lose share we are going to take it."
In the first half Thomas said Nationwide's sales growth was double that of AHAM's reported 7.8 percent. The industry group is predicting 5 percent growth overall for 2010 while Nationwide is predicting "as much as 10 percent" for the year.
Kelly said in all categories across the board Nationwide is "repositioning away from the high end to mainstream retailing." If there are opportunity buys, "We have to be on our toes and take advantage of that. Buy and sell it fast. We can move faster than the big box retailers in that respect."
For instance Decker said Nationwide will be offering a 17-inch LCD/DVD combo from an unnamed vendor at less than $150, "LG has a sub-$300 30-inch LCD, there will be a Haier 32-inch LCD at $300" among other deals.
Weisner added, "We have to be in the ballgame, if it means selling 32-inch TVs at promotional prices that is a small price to pay to get people in the door. Independent retailers are strong enough to help the consumer see the value of the sale... sell a â€˜basket' of goods, and close the sales."
Kirk related the Consumer Reports survey that "independent retailers received high marks from consumers."
In Nationwide's CE business, which is 25 percent of the group's total volume and the other 25 percent is furniture, Decker said that while independents complained 3D TV got the first shot with national accounts, "Since Samsung rolled it out first we planned with [distributor] SED sell it the same time they did. What we learned was that consumers have a lot of questions on glasses, the different formats of glasses, and content. If you don't sell DirecTV with dedicated 3D channels you should and there is more and more available 3D content if you sell 3D Blu-ray decks."
In the overall TV market Decker said for Nationwide, LED, IPTV [internet TV] and 3D are all important with IPTV having "twice the growth of last year."
And as for plasma TV, the format has made a significant comeback. "Samsung has done everything to make us a leading marketer in plasma and given us great deals and features. Plasma is a good place for higher [margins]. In the past three years we have let the national accounts fight about LCD TVs, but plasma delivers the picture performance, improved energy use for consumers."
Decker also related that in the spring, when consumers were looking from 40- to 42-inch 720p HDTVs "they were going to big box retailers, especially from top tier brands. Only recently supply started to free up."
Nationwide turned to Funai - with its Sylvania, Maganvox and Philips brands - and Haier, both here at the show, for that product which enabled them to "provide the right product and stay in the hunt, at the right cost."
Speaking of cost, Nationwide will also have fall and Christmas specials of under $100 with help from Almo which will consist of "Mp3 players, camcorders, digital cameras, low-end LCD TVs... packages our members can buy multiple times," Decker said.
He noted that Black Friday "will begin on October 31 and we will be ready."
But not everything is about the lowest cost deal. At the show Nationwide is offering the Xstream HD satellite service that provides "thousands of hours of 1080p content," Decker said. "Its receiver provides 7.1 Dolby wirelessly and its retail launch is here."
For more on the Nationwide Marketing Group meeting continue to visit www.TWICE.com.