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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Why Antiques? Part 2-Style




In the first installment of the Why Antiques? series, we tried to build a coherent argument that our first reason to try to compel people was value. Today we tackle another component- Style. In our consumer culture, we all tend to fill our life with what I will categorize as “stuff”. I am clearly guilty of falling in this category, maybe owning 2 laptops, a desktop, a netbook and currently utilizing my 5th IPhone (2 upgrades, 2 dropped and another in the dog bowl) might be a sign. The stuff I am talking about is the disposable mass produced trinkets that we live with. The nic-nacs from the mall. the coffee cup we just can’t seem to part with or the reason we keep buying more storage devices for the closet, attic and basement. The utilization of antiques in our homes and lives gives us the opportunity to replace some of the stuff in our lives with style. Imagine a world without this conversation-”Gee Jane, I just got the same picture frame at Pottery Barn, how exciting we now have the same frame.” Replace it with “Jane- where did you get that picture frame, I love it.” Antiques and vintage allow people to explore and develop a passion for the things in their homes and lives. They also allow an opportunity to stand out in the world of sameness and stuff. “Jane always has such cool stuff in her home, maybe I should go shopping with her next time”.

Style is another underutilized marketing concept in selling antiques. We tend to try to market items based upon the object themselves, rather than how they might fit in someone’s home. The business tends to try to focus too much emphasis on the collector and tends to ignore explaining to the larger group of consumers who might like to add the style that living with antiques can bring into their lives. People who have the collecting gene are a significantly smaller group than people who have homes to fill.

Thoughts??

8 comments:

  1. Great point. Yes, it is clear that amongst the hundreds of options available to the average consumer in terms of decorating their home, antiques seem to have been pushed to the side by the excellent marketing efforts put forth by our competitors. We must be honest and admit that back in the day, say the 70's and 80's, there weren't so many decent options and, frankly, selling antiques was pretty easy. Now with lots of competition for thier attention, the middle market buyer is easily distracted away from antiques. Even younger buyers would embrace them if we learned to speak the correct language to them... and, yes, it will come down to style - and not "investment" or "collectible", or other buzzwords which worked in the past.

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  2. i love my pottery barn frame i got the last one the store had i have no idea where jane got hers.

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  3. Anonymous,
    I love my Pottery Barn picture frames too. But the point I'm trying to make is that as an industry, we need to make Jane's picture frame as accessible at the one you find at Pottery Barn. Maybe that can't be achieved, but we can certainly narrow the gap that currently exists.

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  4. I think that's the point anon is making..... dealers need to seek out sources on the web where they can have a very public presence, such as 1stDibs or a newer one, Latique. Both offer dealers the ability to present their inventory in a modern and professional format which targets both the interior design trade, the collector, as well as the home decorator.

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  5. Agreed, but as individual dealers, people are limited by what they can accomplish on their own. As an industry, the existing internet platforms 1st Dibs, Latique, Ebay and every other site ignore the 600 pound gorilla- where is the inspiration and education of our future potential customers coming from?

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  6. I think the largest problem has been that the antique profession hasn't been speaking to the younger consumer in the right voice and has not encouraged a dialogue. Frankly, they haven't caught their eye, at least on the street or show level - and yes, they do buy on E-Bay heavily... it's just not apparent. That is one of the problems with on-line sites - it can be hard for dealers to determine who they are selling to. But, yes they are there dipping their toes into antiques. They're buying them at NYC street markets, etc. The trick is to get them to move up the ladder onto better pieces and we have to get their attention first - then educate.

    It is true that younger consumers shop and research on-line. They follow style-forward blogs which promote all types of furniture, including antique forms. Check out blogs like Habitually Chic, written by a young interior designer in NY. We just aren't making the right connections and our presentation is perceived as a bit dull. So, yes, you are right in your post - it is about style and we haven't been promoting it ourselves.

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  7. I understand that the Latique site includes a comment feature, which allows visitors to the site to ask questions about individual pieces on-line, allowing the dealer to have a dialogue, educate and not only sell material, but build interest.

    Is it a process? Yes. It's always been so - but the reality is that if we wish to engage the younger consumer, we have to be as accessible, and quite frankly, as interesting as sites and catalogs like Anthropologie, West Elm and the like. There are lots of vendors fishing for the younger consumer - we have to start by being visually interesting and progressive as well.

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  8. A lot of the inspiration will be found in Latique's Magazine ... look for in the coming week.

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