While consumer research isn’t new for the company, it is kicking off an ongoing cycle of weekly interactions with a panel of 4,000 consumers in real time. One week it may post a survey, another it may ask them to weigh in on an assortment of product designs. The goal is to provide retailers with insights into shifting moods and tastes for discrete groups of shoppers.
“We can drill down to moms with kids going back to college. We’re connecting with today’s families,” said Julie McKenzie, President and CEO of Welspun USA. “You’ll find them very honest.” Christopher Mooney, who joined the company in April as Chief Marketing and Merchandising Officer, noted that the project is additive to the information Welspun culls through its subscription to NPD Group, the market research company. “Combined, they’re really valuable differentiators for us,” he said.
Welspun is presenting retailers with a pair of consumer studies. The first digs into how consumers live with sheets and towels, how often they replace them and whether they’re still using a top sheet, among other insights. The second survey covers colour and patterns. “We asked them, ‘What do you do with colour and pattern in the public rooms of the house? What do you do with colour and pattern in the private rooms of the house?’” said Mooney. “They’re decorating in their own style. We’re learning how to help.”
Combining consumer insights with the elevated design perspective Mooney and his team have brought to the table makes Welspun “smart meets pretty,” said McKenzie. “I want us to be the place people can’t wait to get to because we’re making retailers smarter and letting them know about their needs before they know they have them,” she added. “It’s giving us more strategic partnerships.”
The “smart meets pretty” message resonates across the showroom soon. A fashion-forward utility bedding presentation that jettisons white shells in favour of a soothing colour palette. Each product group features an array of performance ingredients providing sleep solutions as well. “The innerwear for your bed is going to be beauty to the core,” said McKenzie, who noted that families in today Instagram era style out and post nearly everything today – right down to their kids’ daily lunchboxes.
“Even if [the utility bedding] is a colour that never moves more than 10 per cent of the business, it will drive a customer across the floor.” Welspun is also making a statement introduction around copper with introduction of its Spun Copper collection of basic bedding, fashion bedding and bath – which is also a health & wellness play.
The Fashion Alley section of the showroom cross-merchandises all categories of product under four design themes: Simply Elegant, Enchanted Garden, Urban Farmhouse and Folk Art. Each can incorporate a variety of performance technologies, and each presents good/better/best options for buyers. “We have a solution for every channel,” said McKenzie.
Welspun is also grounding each fashion statement with its own room-sized area rugs, a flooring category that is taking off. “We continue to make inroads in area rug business,” she said. Christy Living also gets its own vignette this week. The diffusion brand is inspired by designs from Welspun’s luxury Christy division in the UK. Also new is a full presentation of the Waverly licensed brand in bath.