Despite the growing amount of retail moving online, showrooms today are becoming increasingly important places for manufacturers to secure a buyer’s interest and business in the appliance industry. But how does the buyer really know which appliance is right by simply looking at the product, reading a description or listening to an informed sales speech?
When it comes to shopping for range hoods and other kitchen appliances, consumers, dealers and designers are bombarded with so much information and so many details that it becomes hard to separate the important information from the hype.
And, while manufacturers may be knowledgeable about the products they display on the showroom floor, that knowledge may not always make it to the consumer in a way that helps them answer the question: “Is this the right product for me?”
As appliances evolve, it becomes more challenging for buyers to understand what they are getting or what sets one brand’s appliance apart from another. And while the Internet is quick to help consumer shopping habits, most sources only deliver one-way communication that adds to the overload of information. Is that really an effective way for customers to confidently purchase an appliance? While it helps to be as fully informed as possible, sometimes there is no substitution for the real thing. And showrooms offering functional appliances fill this important role.
By adding functional displays to the showroom floor, a manufacturer can satisfy the needs of consumers, dealers and designers by encouraging informed decision-making.
Over the years, veteran appliance manufacturers have witnessed the evolution of appliance marketing transform from one-way communication into interactive and hands-on exchanges. What began with door-to-door sales graduated to trade shows, then showrooms, and ultimately the “virtual showroom” – the Internet.
But what remains increasingly relevant at today’s best showrooms is the intersection of all these marketing forces to educate customers and create meaningful business.
The door-to-door salesperson is now the gifted showroom associates. The trade show beauty is now the latest and greatest product display. And the smartphone in your pocket replaces the brochure with a library of background information available for immediate review while shopping and comparing products.
These things, working in unison, create an informed shopper. But the final step in the sales process that cannot be replicated comes when the buyer gets to experience turning the appliance on. It’s a strategy car dealers have used since the Model T.
The best way to educate interested buyers is by incorporating functional displays that demonstrate all of the new technology or add-on options and allow buyers to connect what they read or hear with the reality of physically experiencing the technology before deciding whether or not to make a purchase.
While knowledge is power, offering buyers an elevated experience in the showroom can greatly impact the buyer’s influence. Speaking from decades of personal experience in the industry, the way we connect with shoppers is continuously evolving to accommodate the buyer’s desire to be better and better informed. From static displays to electronic touch-screens and QSR codes to interactive Web sites, the industry has always generated different and new ways to make a shopper’s experience more interactive and engaging than the “window shopping” of the past.
For example, when a buyer is looking to compare the sound levels on various range hoods, the easiest way to judge this is to turn the appliance on. Having a functional display where shoppers can physically turn on and off different range hoods and compare the noise level of each model offers an ability to make a truly informed shopping decision, while also creating an opportunity to demonstrate your competitive advantages first-hand.
Engaging the buyers on the showroom floor will help eliminate any misunderstanding that can arise when the consumer is overwhelmed by everything the manufacturers are presenting. Using function displays for more than just demonstrations by encouraging shoppers to interact with the appliances on their own can help navigate around any miscommunication that may occur. Offering a hands-on experience is a great way to build a buyer’s confidence in the products they are being shown. It also helps create an opportunity to generate a more in-depth conversation with the buyer.
When presenting a showroom, let the consumer “be part of the show.” A great way for companies to get the most out of functional displays and really drive the point home with buyers is to get them involved with the appliance and show how the different abilities of each appliance works during everyday situations. Creating fully functional displays that allow shoppers to “push the buttons” on appliances creates a total experience.
A great way to further improve a buyer’s familiarity with each product and to show the appliances in action is to create fully functional kitchens which can take the show to a whole new level, such as when professional chefs conduct cooking demonstrations. These types of events and the features they communicate about appliances literally “feed the demand” of consumer wants and needs.
The showroom is where all the messages a company has sent out to buyers over various channels of communication should come together. What a company is marketing virtually must reflect what the shoppers are able to experience in the showroom.
As mentioned earlier, it is similar to shopping for a new car. Sure, you can look at online reviews or listen to different car salespeople throwing out statistic after statistic, but at the end of the day, no one buys a car before they have the chance to test drive it. Buyers should be able to shop for kitchen appliances in a similar way, especially considering that appliances will be part of the daily life of a consumer longer than most cars.
Investing in functional showroom displays to elevate the consumer experience and demonstrate to dealers or designers the important features of the products allows for the buyer to enjoy that “test drive.”
When dealing with the kitchen industry’s standard for higher quality appliances, it’s important as a manufacturer to give everyone the ability to learn about products and test different features in new and innovative ways. By increasing the buyer’s knowledge, engagement and experience with products through the use of functional displays, manufacturers are helping to create a shopping experience that leads to better decision-making and customer satisfaction.
Miles Woodall III is the CEO of Vent-A-Hood. Founded in 1933, Vent-A-Hood is the oldest manufacturer of residential range hoods in America.