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Marketing, not quality, new revenue driver for disrupted interior design biz

September 9, 2016

Waterworks taps desire Waterworks taps desire


By Pam Danziger

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3 thoughts on “Marketing, not quality, new revenue driver for disrupted interior design biz”

  1. Mark Michaud says:

    Worth a double take. This is the most important point: “You have to think more strategically,” Mr. Ramey said. “You have to expand your prospect base with marketing if you want to grow.”

  2. Jessica M. says:

    I agree with nearly everything in this article, but am a bit perplexed by the author’s reference to Waterworks as “new”. They’ve been around for over 30 years. Did RH recently acquire them? Or were they recently re-branded? A few days ago I saw a sponsored post from Waterworks show up in my Instagram feed, so they are definitely marketing successfully. I’d just like to know more about their brand’s story and how it relates to the trends cited in this article!

  3. Pity those at NYICS having to endure this tiresome trope. Pam and Chris are languishing in this article still rubbing the genie’s bottle. Even though they are both professional colleagues, I am afraid that their collective lament and presumptuous prescript for therapeutic remedies to ‘market better’ and thereby thwart DIY are passé. Their provocative title blares that marketing ‘trumps’ quality (pun intended), and extols hollow claims to just believe the fanciful imagery. Sound familiar?

    What’s now and forever current is that the best of the best in design at home — interior design professionals and their trade resources — have for decades been leaders in the market for those who appreciate the finest. And now through design magazines, show houses and countless open-houses featuring innovative design and decor, these consumer advocates continue to inspire and inform design enthusiasts with even more appeal and authenticity. Pam and Chris seem to be cheering from the sidelines.

    Their wishful thinking argues that mass retail can somehow market their way into class and custom decor. RH is only the latest aspirant — a gateway drug that pushes consumers to rehab after the buzz wears off and professional designers come in to remedy the mess. No bilious brand blather will mitigate failures in product quality. Yes, Chris, quality still matters no matter how much branding is spread between the lines. And are you really suggesting that consumer confidence can be captured on the backs of mail carriers trying to deliver those bricks of banality from RH?

    You’re missing it. The code you misread is the difference between RH, other mass DIY platforms and the community of designers and their trade resources. The retail brands strike their pose by stage-crafting facsimiles of original designer’s work and then go about selling commodities to impulse buyers. Sure, there’s a market for that. But the design ecosystem of designers, makers, showrooms, design centers, magazines and innovative online sources of knowledge, on the other hand, doesn’t keep gates as you suggest. It does afford homeowners a carefully considered choice: to think before they buy and customize furnishings around their life style. And when they do, trade resources win big, too. That’s a value added system that drives business. That’s marketing.

    And so is word of mouth. This form of magical messaging isn’t code for ignorance as you suggest. It is for those in the know, a nuanced-abbreviation for sophisticated strategies involving ‘prosumers,’ ‘key influencers,’ ‘clientelling’ and sincere referral mechanisms to forge intimate and long-lasting relationships with active sources of new business (strategies this newsletter reports on frequently).

    What consumers want is a luxurious design experience, one that is unique to them — designed for them with carefully curated selections. Uniqueness — a hallmark of luxury — that’s what’s new. And what’s new, too, is a national marketing campaign aimed squarely at consumers’ desire to DoItFor … themselves by hiring a designer. 

    Your ‘solution’ to “bring brands forward” without taking an upright position on any strategies worth considering other than to “do better marketing” lands with the same thud that those RH bricks do.