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Buying Groups Prep For Next Month’s Convention Cavalcade

NEW YORK – It’s fall buying group season, meaning three of the industry’s largest merchandising and marketing organizations for independent dealers will be gathering the troops next month to share new marketing plans, growth strategies and vendor introductions for the back-half of the year.

To give members and manufacturers a taste of what’s to come, we offer the following preview of the Nationwide, BrandSource and Mega Group USA national conventions. And be sure to follow our coverage of the August shows on and right here in the pages of TWICE Magazine. Happy trails …

Nationwide Urges Dealers To Get What’s Theirs

The Nationwide Marketing Group is beating the market share drum. Again.

Actually, the $15 billion support organization for independent dealers never stopped sounding the share opportunity alert since first introducing its “Prepare For Share” strategy back in March.

The program, which debuted at the group’s last PrimeTime convention and trade show, leverages all of Nationwide’s marketing, advertising, merchandising and market intelligence tools to help dealers gain share within their local markets.

The initiative was still in its infancy last spring, and Nationwide is planning to present a dramatically expanded service portfolio, bolstered with vendor support, at its PrimeTime fall gathering next month in Las Vegas (Aug. 2-5 at The Venetian). Indeed, Prepare for Share, or “PFS,” will be the central focus of the event, as reflected in the seminars, the show’s theme of “Game Changer,” and the quadrupling of dedicated booth space front and center on the show floor.

The concept is the brainchild of executive VP Jeff Knock, who sees current marketplace flux as a prime opportunity for independent dealers to build their local standing. Epochal industry events like RadioShack’s bankruptcy, sales declines at Sears and hhgregg, the advent of connected devices, and a renaissance in majap and video technology provide a perfect storm of marketplace upheaval that’s ripe for independents to harness, he said.

To do so, Nationwide is providing a vast marketing toolbox that includes detailed competitive analyses of dealers’ local trading areas with improved analytics; its turnkey “Just Say Yes” and “360º” multimedia programs, which offer comprehensive marketing packages including social media campaigns, digital banner ads, print ads, and in-store displays; and a full spate of customized TV commercials, shot in HD at the group’s PrimeMedia facility in Atlanta, that target millennials and Sears customers, and take aim at big-box chains.

“We’re going after consumers with discretionary income who want to buy better stuff,” Knock told TWICE. “We’re still competing with $499 this and $799 that, but our concern is how to drive appliance packages and 4K TV. We want to break out of the pack, go after premium products, and take share from Sears.”

Round two of program will be starting out with the wind at its back. Following a dour first quarter marred by bad weather, port-related supply problems and questions surrounding the just-announced Electrolux-GE merger, Knock said the May-June period came roaring back, with Nationwide outpacing the industry in unit-and dollar-volume growth, and anecdotal reports pointing to an outstanding Independence Day sales period.

The biggest challenge now, Knock noted, is getting all of Nationwide’s dealers on board. Despite a ten-fold increase in member participation since Q1, Knock hopes to rally all the troops behind the program in Las Vegas, as “there is nothing more important to our members.

“Prepare For Share works,” he said. “If dealers don’t use it shame on them. The challenge to members is, are you in or are you out?”

BrandSource Plans Largest-Ever Exhibit Of Home Furnishings

Next month’s BrandSource National Convention & Expo will host its largest exhibit ever in the home-furnishings and bedding categories, the buying group announced.

More than 40 vendors from the two industries will show up with new products and services alongside appliance vendors at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas from Aug. 23-26.

Exhibitors include Ashley, Serta, Southern Motion, Tempur-Pedic, Coaster, Med-Lift, Twin Star, Furniture of America, Simmons, Kidz World, Sealy, Windermere Motion, Leggett & Platt, and others.

“Without question, the home furnishings category, especially mattresses, drives store traffic and increases profitability,” said Mike Allen, executive VP of home furnishings at BrandSource, the $12 billion buying group for independent dealers. Workshops and sessions: To help members increase profitability, the group is sponsoring a Mattress University workshop, which will start with Serta’s Bob Muenkel. He will offer sales training tips to help members make the best possible mattress purchase “without undesired or pressured sales tactics,” the group said. Additional topics will focus on current trends and the changing landscape of traditional and digital advertising and marketing.

Keynote speaker, comedian and motivational speaker Steve Rizzo, author of “Get Your Shift Together,” will challenge attendees “to shift their way of thinking and discover greater enthusiasm, increased productivity, and new levels of success,” BrandSource said.

A presentation by Mike Frank, an entrepreneur and professional speaker, will offer insights into how millennial customers and employees, born in the 1980s and 1990s, differ from their older counterparts. He’ll also offer up sales and customer service strategies to help dealers better connect with shoppers in this age group, also known as Generation Y.

Sue Hartman, technician expert from Guardsman Furniture Repair, will perform live demonstrations of leather and wood repair and fabric spot cleaning, and industry expert Joe Higgins will offer insights into the prospects for economic growth in the decade ahead. He will also discuss breakthrough technologies and how they’re changing America and the job landscape.

For his part, Todd E. Scott, Electrolux’s digital retail integration and merchandising manager, will join Laura Woodford, the company’s senior trade marketing manager, to provide an overview of the digital retail landscape. More than 60 percent of consumer use Internet tools to research appliances before a purchase, and the session will provide a variety of digital paths that could lead consumers to members’ front doors, BrandSource said.

Nancy Friedman, known as the Telephone Doctor, will offer insights and techniques to keep the customer on the phone or in person.

Mega Group Adds Two Big Dealers On Eve Of Fall Show

Mega Group USA reported it has added more than $100 million in retail revenue with the addition of new members Hahn Appliance Warehouse and Texas Appliance.

The new recruits joined the buying organization for independent furniture, CE, majap and mattress dealers on the eve of its bi-annual convention, slated for Aug. 13-16 at the Marriott of Louisville, here.

Both businesses are expected to attend Mega’s fall national convention, a three-day conclave offering networking, coaching sessions, product training seminars and buying opportunities under the Louisville-influenced theme of “Cover All Your Bases.”

On the agenda is a new digital marketing extension to the group’s Web-Fronts website platform program, providing four levels of web marketing tools that are each designed to efficiently reach local consumers. The top Level 4 tier includes an exclusive Mega digital package featuring special automated, turnkey promotions for members. Dealers can choose individual events or set all applicable promotions to run automatically, allowing them to be “as involved as they want to be in their digital marketing campaigns,” the group said.

Elsewhere, training sessions will be held by top brands including Whirlpool, Serta, GE, Electrolux, Simmons and Tempur + Sealy, while industry leaders will discuss market trends and selling techniques, and will introduce new products.

Breakout sessions will focus on such topics as finances, marketing, outdoor décor, product protection and home automation; workshops will cover such areas as advertising, merchandising and sales; and keynotes will be delivered by Electrolux sales VP Mark Chambers and Serta president and past BSH Home Appliance chief Michael Traub.

“This is a great opportunity for store owners to fine-tune their marketing strategies to help preserve and grow market shares as they compete with big-box chains,” said Rick Bellows, president of the 1,700-member group.

For more information, visit or call (888) 332-3344.
– Additional reporting by Joseph Palenchar