The days of asprawling design showroomdisplaying every SKU are, well, numbered. The pandemic has many manufacturers rethinking how they debut products, and those considering nixingtraditional distributionmodels (see: trade show appearances and even permanent showrooms) for more creative endeavors can learn from those that have already reimagined retail. From by-appointment sleepovers to real estate exhibitions, these manufacturers, galleries, and retailers are proving that how you market your products shouldn’t be one-size-fits-all.
Maker&Son’s Mobile Showroom
Portable design showrooms are gaining momentum among industry brands, textile house Kravet and upholstered seating manufacturerMaker&Sonamong them. The latter, which was founded in 2018 in the U.K., debuted its fleet Mercedes and Ford vans in the U.S. and beyond earlier this year to make house calls to prospective buyers. Today, the maker credits the traveling showrooms with cultivating tremendous product awareness in new markets.
The company has two brick-and-mortar locations (on the premises of the family’s 17th-century country estate in West Sussex, England, as well as in New York’s Tribeca neighborhood), but for cofounder Alex Willcock, the decision to grow by hitting the road was simply the best fit for business. “There was no way I wanted thisdigitally native brandto be hooked into retail spaces,” he tells AD PRO. “Our prices would be 50 or 60 percent higher.”
Theroving enterprisehas since grown to hosting vans in Australia (where singer Troye Sivan quicklybecame a brand fan) and 11 cities (and growing) in the U.S. Following an appointment booking made online or via phone, the van, typically decked out with one of the brand’s armchairs or love seats and an accompanying footstool, makes a visit. Invariably, says Willcock, “a group of people—or at times, a whole street—piles in.” Guests settle into the furniture, comb through the upholstery samples, and often snap a pic for social media. On occasion, a driver has even been invited inside a potential customer’s house for dinner.