“INTERLIVING is our response to the fundamental changes currently effecting the furniture retail market,” says Managing Director Frank Stratmann. “It provides a way for our members to challenge the dominance of the global brands by filling a previously unoccupied space with a strong, national brand for small and medium-sized furniture retailers.” INTERLIVING has been conceived as a brand for retailers who are members of Einrichtungspartnerring, which allows them to position themselves in the market as distinct from the major chains. “
The INTERLIVING promise to customers is ‘furniture made for me’,” explains Mr. Stratmann. “It acts as a unifier and demonstrates quite impressively the strength and common purpose of our association of retailers.” The ultimate goal is to increase footfall at member stores and thereby also sales. It aims to do this by communicating benefits such as the high quality and attractive price of INTERLIVING products, accompanied by outstanding service.
Before launching the new INTERLIVING brand, Einrichtungspartnerring VME conducted extensive market research and analyses over the last twelve months. “The pressure to advertise through national media such as TV, radio and newspapers is growing ever stronger, even for regional retailers,” says Mr. Stratmann. “The increasing use of digital media also poses challenges for the sector. INTERLIVING is the perfect answer to all of these challenges. Together we can capitalize on our strengths on a regional and national level to establish a strong brand with nationwide significance. It will become synonymous with high-quality furniture at a fair price.”
The introduction of the INTERLIVING brand is governed by a clear set of rules that help to ensure consistency across the board for a strong brand presence. “Of course none of our members is being forced to adopt INTERLIVING,” says Mr. Stratmann. “However, the advantages are so clear that the question in our minds is not whether they will participate in the project but to what extent.”
The Einrichtungspartnerring VME members have four options available to them. Under the first option, the retailer retains his own brand name but simply integrates the INTERLIVING products into his range. The second option involves combining INTERLIVING with the name of the furniture store. Alternatively, the INTERLIVING name can replace the original name of the store to be combined with the name of the town in which it is located. If the retailer does not want to adopt the INTERLIVING brand, he will continue to receive the INTERLIVING range to be sold under his own house brand.
“In the coming months, we will be working together with our partners in the furniture industry to put together a broad product portfolio that will appeal to customers and generate positive sales for our members,” says Mr. Stratmann. “INTERLIVING will have a positive effect on our entire range.” The new brand is also seen as an opportunity for manufacturers to preserve their independence from the global chains – a way to resist the pressure their dominance allows them to exert.
For prospective new members to the association, the brand projects a clear signal: “The combination of an exciting brand, a clear vision and a strong retailer community offers a great foundation upon which new members can build,” insists Mr. Stratmann. “Many furniture retailers who are not members of Einrichtungspartnerring VME have recognized the challenges facing the industry and are looking for answers. We hope that they will find those answers with us.”
Einrichtungspartnerring VME has been supporting medium-sized players in the furniture retail sector since 1964. Its roughly 200 members together operate more than 400 furniture stores in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Luxemburg, Belgium and the Netherlands. The organization is one of the most innovative and dynamic retail associations in the market. “Small and mediumsized furniture retailers tend to be relatively conservative in their approach,” explains Mr. Stratmann.
“We believe we know what the important trends of the next three to five years will be and work together with our members to ensure they are prepared. At the moment, the top topic is digitization. We are showing our members how to respond to the digital revolution. For many of our members, the process seems daunting. We try to show them that it can be a big opportunity to win customers and increase sales.”
Einrichtungspartnerring VME targets furniture retailers with a minimum annual turnover of around six million EUR and a display area of 6,000 m2. This represents the smaller end of the scale – many of the member companies are much bigger. “We represent a major slice of the German furniture retail landscape,” says Mr. Stratmann. “Together we will master future challenges.”