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The Housewares Retailer Conundrum


The retail landscape has been shifting since the inception of the internet.  But over the last several years, the shift in the retail space, especially in the housewares industry, has been dramatic.  I could inundate you with statistics on how your target audience is shifting how, when, and where they buy, but you are not reading this blog because you are unaware of the shift.  Your concern isn’t with stats, but the conundrum of deciding the best way to reach your business goals.  At the end of the day, your sales provide the barometer to judging success.  But where should those sales occur?  And how do you invest your hard-earned marketing dollars to drive sales?

Where should those sales occur?

Should you focus solely on selling direct to consumer via your own e-commerce stores?  Do you invest in online resellers like Wayfair and Amazon? Or do you just hope that this whole internet thing is a fad and continue to rely solely on brick and mortar to get the job done? 

Your marketing strategy can’t revolve around your preference of where the consumer buys, it should revolve around your consumers' preference on where to buy.  Just because you have a fancy new e-commerce store front, doesn’t mean the consumer cares.  If they fell in love with your product, does it matter if they bought it on Amazon, or walked into Bed Bath and Beyond?  Sure, your margin is larger if they choose to buy through your e-commerce storefront. There are even many ways and best practices you should have in place to nudge the consumer to buy direct from you.  But your margin is nil if the consumer has a preference to purchase another way and you don’t provide it.  You told the story and convinced the consumer to trust you.  They want what you are selling.  But maybe they want it now.  If you don’t tell them what retailers carry your products, the 'I want it now' option is obsolete as they will turn to your competition to solve their problems.  Leave it up to the consumer to decide where to purchase.  Be in front of them at the right moments, with an authentic product, a story to tell, and a problem solved.

Investing Your Housewares Marketing Dollars

We help housewares manufactures navigate the complexities of online marketing, which includes helping you prioritize how to spend your hard-earned marketing dollars.  While again, I could provide you with a plethora of stats on why you should spend your money online, why mobile needs to be at the forefront of not only your online media plan, but your offline media plan, or any other stat that you have most likely read countless other times.  But if I did that, I wouldn’t be painting a fair picture, nor would I be following our agency’s advice.  And the advice we give, stems largely from these two frequent questions:

  • How much of my housewares marketing or media budget should I devote to online marketing?
  • What online marketing channels should I spend my housewares marketing dollars on?

 Devoting Marketing and Media Budget to Online Marketing

How much should you spend?  Again, a very common question that we get, but one that we encourage you to come at from a different perspective.  If you aren’t an online-only seller, then this discussion shouldn’t be happening on its own.  While parts may be distinct, if your online and offline media and marketing strategies don’t intersect and paint a cohesive brand picture for your target audience, then you aren’t capitalizing on an omni-channel strategy.  If you are not capitalizing on an omni-channel strategy, then you are forgetting about where consumers want to buy.  Don’t invest your media budget solely on mobile just because Google is telling you that consumer demand is shifting to mobile.  While yes, mobile is absolutely important in today’s age.  You already knew this.  Instead think of your consumer and their journey to loving your brand.   While a big portion of your audience’s time may be spent online, and maybe that’s where they fell in love with your brand, their journey may take them in-store where they are again faced with a decision between you and the competition. 

Selecting the Right Online Marketing Channels

You thought about your marketing plan from an omni-channel perspective and you now have a better idea of how much you want to spend online.  But how do you select the right online marketing channels for your housewares brand?  Don’t feel overwhelmed.  We field calls, emails and have consultations all the time and the bulk of them start off with a statement along the lines of:  "I was told we need SEO." "I want to do online advertising; how much should I spend."  "Should we be investing in video?" 

While SEO, online advertising and other online marketing tactics can all be beneficial to the end goal, they can’t operate as silos. 

Let me say it again, they can’t operate as silos!

Just as you shouldn’t think about your sales occurring in a silo of e-commerce only, or think of your marketing budget as solely online or offline, you can’t expect your online marketing channels to operate independently of each other.   We've all seen stats like "In a typical day the average millennial will spend 25 hours a day online, visit 200 different websites and check their social channels 6,000 times."  Obviously those aren't actual stats, but in reality, they don't need to be.  You already know that your audiences' online time is spread out on countless digital channels.  Your audiences' time throughout the day is just as fractured as yours.  Don’t pull the marketing levers on one channel without thinking about the cause and effect it has on the others.

I will leave you with this.  You have read countless stats on where your sales should occur, where you should devote your online marketing dollars and on what channels.  About the only statistic that holds weight is that the housewares market is a conundrum.  You need all the pieces to solve it and epower at home loves puzzles.

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Justin Tadych

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