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Whirlpool’s Abdelnour Lauds Independents At MEGA Group Show


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

His two-hour presentation included
a state-of-the-industry update and insights
into favorable appliance market
trends. “Over the past four months independent
retailers have stabilized, representing
20 percent of the appliance
industry,” he said, suggesting that bigbox
retail share has declined. He also
noted that independent retailers comprise
a significant share of Whirlpool’s
overall business, much of which is with
the KitchenAid and Maytag brands.

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.