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AHFA To Host Marketing/PR Conference

The American Home Furnishings Alliance (AHFA) announces it will hold a new Marketing/PR Conference in 2024 with a program that invites companies to reimagine marketing plans, recraft brand images and help reposition our industry’s products to entice today’s consumers.

Keynoting the February 6-7 event is Christy Hoskins, vice president and chief marketing officer of La-Z-Boy Inc. Hoskins joined La-Z-Boy at the end of 2021 and spent much of her first two years guiding the company on a journey to become a more dynamic and distinct brand able to serve a broader consumer base. Her efforts ultimately resulted in a transformative marketing campaign launched in August this year under the banner, “Long Live the Lazy.” In addition to rolling out the campaign through multi-channel advertising, the company launched National Lazy Day with an NBC “Today Show” sponsorship that invited the morning show’s hosts to kick their feet up in La-Z-Boy recliners placed throughout Rockefeller Plaza. Hoskins’ keynote address in February will share the challenges of modernizing an iconic brand and provide attendees with insights they can use to reimagine and reinvigorate their own brands.

The conference will be held at the Guilford Technical Community College Conference Center, located less than 10 minutes from Piedmont Triad International Airport in Greensboro, North Carolina, and 15 minutes from downtown High Point. The program will run from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, February 6, and from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesday, February 7, and includes lunch and a light breakfast both days. A link to the registration page, as well as to the nearby Springhill Suites by Marriott for those requiring overnight accommodations, can be found HERE

Registration is $299 for executives from AHFA member companies and $499 for those from non-member companies. Members of the retail Home Furnishings Association and members of WithIt are invited to register at the AHFA member rate.

The February program also features a series of presentations exploring regulatory issues that impact the marketing and sales of home furnishings products today. From new online law label requirements to product descriptions that address chemical content, today’s furniture marketing executives need a crash course in consumer health and safety issues and the complex regulatory environment surrounding those issues.

Opening this portion of the agenda will be Tracey Kelly, head of IKEA’s “Safer Life at Home” initiative, an effort by the company to raise awareness of common home hazards and provide tips to help address them. Introduced in the fall of 2019, the program includes a mobile app, in-store workshops and an ongoing “Secure It!” awareness campaign.

“At IKEA, our understanding of life at home is the core of our business,” Kelly told a Senate Special committee on Aging in 2022. “A better life at home begins with safety, especially for the most vulnerable – young children and older people.” Her presentation in February, “Home Furnishings at the Intersection of Health and Safety,” will focus on how communicating health and safety initiatives to consumers has become part of IKEA’s core brand messaging in the United States.

Labeling to accurately explain product content is a growing concern for home furnishings companies with complex supply chains. In the upholstered furniture and bedding industry, the nonprofit CertiPUR-US program has been a game-changer in creating consumer demand for certified foam. Helen Sullivan of CertiPUR-US will shed light on four marketing principles that were instrumental in achieving their success – and how companies can apply them to their own marketing. She’ll also provide an inside track on the next big thing consumers will be expecting from the furniture industry in 2024 and beyond.

Product content and performance claims also will be on Jack Hicks’ agenda when he presents, “What’s Law Got to Do With It?” – an overview of legal pitfalls within modern-day marketing.  A partner in the Greensboro, North Carolina, office of Womble Bond Dickinson, Hicks will provide updates on both current and emerging legal and regulatory issues that are essential for every marketing executive.

Additional topics on the conference agenda include:

  • The latest technology for building customer engagement.
  • Macro home building and remodeling trends that will influence 2024 furniture purchases.
  • Hiring, managing and keeping today’s young marketing and communications talent.
  • A panel of member company executives who have navigated the crowded market of 3D visualization and augmented reality providers – and survived to share their top tips for others entering the fray!