Rugs: License to Sell
Standing out among the crowd isn’t always easy, but with the help of recognized personalities and household names, retailers have the opportunity of putting their products in the spotlight and separating themselves from the pack—especially if they sell rugs, which is where the majority of these licensed brands are going.
Everything from television shows, the stars themselves, artists and designers are helping to add diversity to today’s rug retailers’ portfolios.
“Retailers need to take advantage of the tools offered to create an extension of their brand within their showroom environment,” said Julie Rosenblum, executive director of licensing for Nourison. “These products should be separated out and highlighted within their assortments, and store displays for consumer recognition,”
For Nourison, teaming with big names like model, actress and entrepreneur Kathy Ireland for its Kathy Ireland Home by Nourison collection has proven to be a success.
“Nourison creates licensed partnerships that add diversification to our parent portfolio,” explained Rosenblum. “Each of our partners brings their own signature aesthetic and the products that are created for their brands are a direct extension in our category. Retailers who carry these products are given the opportunity to showcase these brands in their stores, and use this tool to help reach the brand conscious consumer.”
An Eye for Design
From the runway to rugs, recognized clothing designers and brands are lending their talents to the area rug sector.
“When buying a licensed rug, [consumers] feel they are buying the look of that designer they have come to know, respect and regard highly,” said Allen Robertson, vice president of sales for Capel Rugs. “The licensed rug sets itself apart from the general rug out there. It has added value.”
Earlier this year, Oriental Weavers partnered with Tommy Bahama to incorporate the clothing brand’s signature island-inspired looks in multiple collections of indoor and outdoor area rugs.
“For 20 years Tommy Bahama has invited everyone to enjoy the island-inspired lifestyle,” said Doug Wood, president and COO of Tommy Bahama. “We are proud to partner with Oriental Weavers, one of the most exclusive indoor and outdoor area rug companies in the world. Oriental Weavers’ long standing commitment to using high quality materials along with its unique and eclectic coastal design elements makes its collections a great fit for our brand.”
According to Jonathan Witt, vice president of Oriental Weavers, Tommy Bahama’s consumer brand recognition coupled with Oriental Weavers’ manufacturing capabilities creates a winning partnership for both companies and the consumer.
The same can be said for Nourison who besides partnering with Kathy Ireland, paired with designer Calvin Klein to create rugs for the Calvin Klein Home collection.
Emphasizing its value of Made in the USA products, Karastan seized the opportunity to work with American realist artist Bob Timberlake who is primarily known for his watercolor paintings.
“We don’t often forge these types of collaborations, but this one seems a perfect fit: A well-known American designer with a company that values made in the USA products,” said Brandon Culpepper, vice president of specialty sales for Mohawk Home, the parent company of Karastan. “With Bob Timberlake, we feel a real synergy and an opportunity to do some truly creative things,”
The Bob Timberlake Collection will be its own brand and will feature several styles including contemporary, traditional, transitional and lodge, according to the company.
“Bob Timberlake is an exceptional designer. We are excited to execute his color and design ideas for the rug market with our advanced fiber technology. Together, we can offer amazingly beautiful rugs made of a variety of high-performance fibers,” said Culpepper.
Social Media Leverage
Retailers who sell licensed products not only get a boost by carrying these celebrity names in their stores, they also receive added visibility and publicity with the help of social media.
HGTV host and interior designer Genevieve Gorder “GG” Robertson is the name behind Capel Rugs’ Genevieve Gorder collection. Aside from promotion on the company’s site, GG’s social media presence adds popularity to the collaborated line of rugs.
“The consumer watches GG on TV, follows her tweets, and feels like [she knows] her,” said Robertson.
With the use of a simple hashtag, also known as a metadata tag, which is a word or an un-spaced phrase prefixed with the pound sign, information is grouped together.
According to Robertson, designers want to be hands-on and involved with growing the brand and products their name is associated with, so they understand the importance of marketing and promotion across the board.
“Social media is important,” she explained. “Each partner, or brand, promotes their product on Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook, giving the consumer more inspiration to draw from and daily doses of their lives, or history behind the brand.”
Robertson added, “It is helpful for the retailer to designate an area for the designer’s rugs. Using special signage and hangtags brings more attention, so the consumer realizes that the designer is represented in the retail store.”
Current trends are showing there are endless opportunities when it comes to the future of product licensing.
“This category has grown tremendously over the last 10 years,” said Nourison’s Rosenblum. “Licensing, in general, has seen a substantial growth, and having it move into the floor covering category is a natural progression for a celebrity brand that is seeking to expand its offerings in home furnishing.”
Robertson, who considers the rug to be a focal point of a room, believes that consumers will continue to look for design ideas to freshen up their homes from the brands and designer names they know and trust.
It is this reason why he and other rug company executives feel dealers who take the opportunity to offer these branded, licensed rugs to their customers offer not only unique products but also a way to differentiate themselves from their competition.