Blog: Why you should stop trying to sell outdoor furniture

Back when I first came into the home furnishings industry, something became apparent very quickly: mattress brands and retailers were different from others in the industry.

Instead of selling mattresses, most of them were selling a good night’s sleep—which is so much more appealing to a consumer than a few pieces of fabric with some metal springs in between. And everything from their ads to their salespeople represented that idea.

As I’ve explored the different categories in the industry, I found that casual manufacturers and retailers have a chance to take what the mattress guys are doing and apply it to their store or brand.

So what’s the secret? Leisure.

Outdoor companies should sell the idea of leisure rather than the furniture itself.

This doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t talk about the features and benefits of the furniture—in fact, it’s quite the opposite. And “benefit” is the keyword here. You want to show the consumer how the outdoor furnishings they’re looking at will help them relax and enjoy their outdoor space.

You may remember that the ICFA released a report showing that outdoor living space is now more important than ever, but also consider that U.S. adults are more stressed out now than they were when the pandemic first started, and you’ll see the opportunity that selling leisure offers.

It all starts with asking questions—just like the mattress guys do. Instead of “How did you sleep last night,” you can ask “When was the last time you relaxed in your outdoor area? “

Follow up with questions like “What did you like and dislike about it?” or “What do you want to do the most in your outdoor space?”

All of these questions serve to dig deeper into the customer’s needs, and you still haven’t even brought up furniture yet. 

They’re also not as straightforward as “what brings you in today” or “what are you looking for today?” They give you time to build relationships with these customers and get to know what they want and need.

This is just one small way to look at casual furniture differently and try to get the consumer excited about it, because we all know many consumers are not as excited about the price tag.

But if we as an industry change the focus from outdoor furniture to leisure, I think there’s potential to not only sell more products to more people, but also sell bigger-ticket items that complete the outdoor room.

I’ve spoken to countless industry members who all agree that the casual industry is fun, so why not make it just as fun for your customers? 

This story first appeared in sister publication Casual News Now.

Alex Milstein

Alex Milstein is a contributor and social media coordinator for Home News Now and editor in chief of Casual News Now. He previously served as senior editor of both Casual Living and Designers Today. Prior to that, Alex covered technology for Furniture Today, with a focus on augmented reality, e-commerce, and 3D visualization.

View all posts by Alex Milstein →

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