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Nationwide Raises The Bar On Dealer Support

The $15 billion Nationwide Marketing Group unveiled a series of innovative merchandising and marketing solutions last week at its biannual PrimeTime meeting and buy show to further sharpen its membership’s competitive edge.

On the merchandising front, the group debuted a pair of turnkey, in-store display units that can provide easy entrée into the exploding home automation and high-margin bedding categories for dealers that don’t already participate.

The Connected Home Kiosk provides up to four live, interactive facings featuring security, connected audio and other smart-home categories by brands like Ring and Nest. “It’s a great — and necessary — foot-in-the-door for our furniture and appliance members,” said Hank Alexander, director of Home Technology Specialists Nationwide (HTSN), the group’s custom integration division.

On the bedding side, Sleeper Treat is a compact, 600-square-foot gallery display replete with interactive touchpads and carefully selected SKUs that was developed with Serta Simmons. “Our furniture and bedding business continues to just go crazy, especially as you bring more electronics and appliance dealers into it,” said Nationwide Furniture VP Bill Bazemore. “We gotta make it easy for them.”

On the marketing front, Nationwide has partnered with, and commissioned a study from, The Center for Generational Kinetics, an acclaimed demographics research firm. Actionable insights — highlighted by co-founder Jason Dorsey in a keynote address and to be delivered in finer detail via webinars, online videos and proprietary reports — are designed to help the largely baby-boomer membership better understand the needs, mindset and shopping behaviors of millennials, who will outspend boomers for the first time next year.

“This information is meant to be a board to the forehead of our dealers,” said chief commercial officer Jeff Knock. “It’s a wake-up call. Understanding how different consumer groups think and act, and what influences their purchases — there’s nothing more important.”

Another proprietary tool, this one from Nationwide’s data-driven Prepare For Share local-market intelligence program, is PrimeMetrix, which provides the group, its dealers, and its vendors with the industry’s only point-of-sale information on the independent channel, including what’s being purchased and at what margins.

With it, explained appliances senior VP Patrick Maloney, Nationwide can have a stronger hand in its vendor negotiations and a bigger say in product development.

But it wasn’t all work at PrimeTime, which returned by popular demand to Nashville, Tenn. Following a dealer award ceremony at the Grand Ole Opry, and an opening musical act, The Independents, led by Nationwide staffer Chris Kuester on vocals and Knock on drums, country star Wynonna Judd took the stage for a private performance, backed by her road band, The Big Noise.

Speaking to the crowd, and commenting on the national elections, Judd echoed the unity theme of this week’s show, “We Are Nationwide,” when she advised, “We gotta stop thinking of ourselves as Republicans and Democrats and start thinking of ourselves as Americans.”