Gaining prominence in the furniture manufacturing industry as early as the 1920’s, High Point Market has always, first and foremost, been a furniture market. Its positioning and popularity among bedding and mattress industry professionals has been in flux for years. With some bedding manufacturers pulling out of the market, others investing in new spaces and some simply altering their strategies, we couldn’t help but wonder: what’s going on with High Point market today? And, what relevance does it have for bedding and mattress manufacturers and retailers?
Our recent visit to the spring High Point Market revealed some emerging themes but also brought about more questions. What type of buyer attends this market? What do they gain that they can’t get at the Las Vegas Market?
While we weren’t quite able to access the data needed to answer some of our most burning questions, here are some of the available numbers and facts:
Comprised of 180 buildings with 12 million square feet of showspace, the High Point Furniture Market presently hosts the likes of Serta Simmons Bedding, Tempur-Sealy, Kingsdown, Shifman Mattress, BEDGEAR, Malouf and many other prominent sleep product exhibitors. According to the High Point Market Authority, approximately 75,000 people attend each market from all over the country and all over the world—but they did not reveal how many of those attendees make the trip strictly to visit bedding and mattress exhibitors.
That said, we did gain some insights when engaging with exhibitors at the show. Many have long touted the High Point Market as a place to slow down and have the more meaningful types of conversations they don’t have time for amidst the chaos and excitement of the Las Vegas markets. This held true during our recent visit. While most exhibitors had time to chat with us, nearly all of them reported general busy-ness and emphasized that this market allowed them to enjoy more in-depth conversations and provide a more personalized experience for retailers visiting their showrooms. Many also noted that most meetings were pre-planned—and that the High Point show, as of late, yields less drop-ins and on-the-fly visitors.
While we have seen a number of brands pulling out of High Point, others like Eclipse International have relocated, expanded and re-vamped the feel of their showrooms. Companies like Eclipse are aiming to make their showrooms a “destination space.” By moving away from the now sleepy bedding floors and taking over a more prominent, stand-alone location, the company has given attendees a reason to prioritize the visit to its showroom. And according to the brand’s representatives—it worked. The expanded showroom and new location likely piqued the interest of buyers, making them curious about the brand and its offerings.
In addition to attracting more foot traffic, this type of investment in market presentation also reflects a greater commitment to developing more innovative retail experiences. Over the past few seasons, there has been a distinct push to do things differently than what’s been done before. Sound familiar? This commitment to differentiation at market also carries on into the retail world, as retailers seek to do the same adding value to customized build-outs offered by select manufacturers .
These “destination spaces” also help facilitate many of the benefits we’ve continued to hear about the spring and fall shows. While traffic may be slower and major product introductions at a minimum, High Point serves as an opportunity to check in on the products and collections that debuted at the winter Las Vegas Market. It’s a time when everyone can take the temperature of the market and see which programs are gaining traction and starting to make an impact on retail floors.
One key theme we saw throughout this market was a larger focus on cross-merchandising, which corresponded with the growing decentralization of bedding and mattress exhibit spaces. By choosing to occupy stand-alone showrooms and showrooms in the thick of the furniture floors and buildings, manufacturers like Malouf, Classic Brands, BEDGEAR and others are looking to attract and support more than just bedding and mattress retailers with their diverse product offerings. They are also looking to encourage traditionally furniture focused retailers to consider the advantages of sleep products in their stores, especially items like bed frames and adjustable bases that bridge the gap between the furniture and sleep categories. This approach is strategic in that it ultimately makes the probability of driving new types of traffic to each showroom higher.
Although the past few years have resulted in a quieter High Point Market for the sleep industry, we also see the market’s role in the industry as varying and constantly shifting as new markets emerge, grow and change. The quieter spring and fall markets are also inspiring those brands that have stayed or return to innovate and really consider how the enliven their spaces.
While we don’t know what the future holds for High Point or its long-term role in the bedding and mattress sector, we are interested in continuing to witness its evolution and the evolving approach of exhibitors as they work to create engaging attendee experiences in their showrooms.
This article originally appeared in Sleep Retailer eNews on April 18, 2019.
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