“We want to know what our clients’ branding, marketing and distribution problems are: whether it’s RSAs having a tough time keeping up with changing product specifications, a shortage of or ineffective floor displays or simply having trouble getting its brands to stand out from all the others,” explains Colonial’s president, Mark Hobson. “Any one of these areas can result in significant lost sales and lower profits.”
Since 1982, Colonial has been working directly with clients to solve these problems, raise brand awareness, elevate potential buyers’ perceptions about the value of their products, and find other ways to help both manufacturers and retailers increase their sales.
The High Point, North Carolina-based company does this in several ways. One way is to survey its clients to identify weaknesses in three key areas: design strategy and brand positioning, and sales effectiveness and revenue drivers, followed by cost efficiencies and ROI. The survey is designed to assess a broad array of key activities, ranging from whether a manufacturer is providing stores with marketing materials that appeal to customers to whether RSAs have enough easy-to-absorb information to explain to consumers the merits of the mattresses on display. The questions are also designed to evaluate a manufacturer’s ability to track marketing costs and the effectiveness of the display materials it provides to retailers. Together, the answers to these strategic questions guide Colonial’s assessment of how it could help a manufacturer grow by selling more mattresses at retail.
After the initial meeting, Colonial’s experts work with each client to design an effective branding strategy and produce appropriate display accessories, such as pillows, shams, foot protectors and headboards, to make the display models eye-catching and attractive at retail. And, the company prides itself on being agile and versatile enough to serve its clients’ needs efficiently. Colonial is set up to conduct each step required to provide the display materials—designing, manufacturing, packaging and distribution—in-house. This ensures that its entire array of Top of Bed products and displays (which can include flaps and pockets for price cards, information sheets and more that provide RSAs and consumers with sales information) reach retail outlets simultaneously with the floor samples.
Hobson points out that Colonial’s approach is unique in that it also conducts expert marketing research to help understand what causes consumers to decide which bed is right for them. For example, a recent, ground-breaking consumer-reaction study it commissioned revealed that an attractively dressed bed is far more likely to appeal to consumers than an unadorned one and also increases their perceptions of its retail price. For example, the study showed that many consumers found one bed, dressed with pillows and a foot protector 42% more appealing and of 59% higher quality than the same bed, undressed. As a result, if they are pleasantly surprised to learn that the bed’s cost is less than they had expected, they are far more likely to buy. The study also indicated which variations of pillow design and fabric colors tend to increase these positive perceptions even more. But the survey also revealed that some styles, designs and color selections could actually make a dressed bed look less appealing than even a bare one. In other words, beauty (and appeal) is most certainly in the eye of the beholder! “These findings give credence to one key company philosophy: that consumers decide to buy things that trigger an emotional response before they justify their decision intellectually,” Hobson points out. “Consumers equate an attractively accessorized bed with elevated quality and appeal and that equates to more value.”
He adds, “Our understanding of the mattress industry, and what influences customers’ buying decisions, along with more than 25 years of experience in helping mattress manufacturers create compelling branding and sales presentations makes Colonial the leader in our category. We don’t just offer our clients attractive display options. We also help solve problems that may be hurting their brand recognition while delivering profitable, sales-building solutions.”
COLONIAL’S EXECUTIVE TEAM REFLECTS AND EXTENDS ITS MOST IMPORTANT ASSET: EXPERIENCE
Since its establishment as a family-owned-and-operated company in 1982, Colonial has become the leading provider of and innovator for display and branding products in the mattress industry. Today, the company employs more than 300 sewers, manufactures products in multiple factories in the United States and offshore, and operates up to three shifts daily to ensure it has the capacity to meet growing client demands.
The company prides itself on its simple, direct, approach to meet its clients’ needs: Its experts hold detailed, one-on-one conversations to understand each mattress manufacturer’s or retailer’s unique challenges, discover their objectives and help them to develop effective marketing and branding solutions.
Colonial’s record of success has helped it to both develop and recruit top-level managers with extensive experience in the industry. Mark Hobson, who became the company’s president in January, after joining the company at the start of 2011, previously worked for Sealy, filling a variety of senior sales and marketing roles for more than 25 years.
Also in January, Wes Keever, formerly vice president of sales, was promoted to executive vice president of sales while Jimmy Keever, who had been vice president of marketing, was promoted to chief operating officer. Both are new positions, as is Hobson’s.
“As integral participants in Colonial’s growth and expansion in the industry for many years, Wes and Jimmy have acquired an enormous amount of knowledge and experience across all aspects of this unique and growing business,” Hobson explains. “Their new roles will allow us to make the most of their skills and talents and are an example of the resource investments Colonial is making to identify and solve our clients’ display and branding challenges and, thereby, help them to sell more mattresses.”