Trend Report - December 2012

Tech Solutions
By Wanda Jankowski

Hunter Douglas >> “The Art Of Window Dressing” iPad app, which shows users how products will look on their windows, has recently won awards from the Web Marketing Association.
Sleep Innovations >> The Gel Memory Foam with Cool GelHD Reversible Pillow offers the sleeper a cool experience all night.
Biddeford Blankets >> The Therapeutic Heated Mattress Pad includes zone heating, LED digital controls, a 10-hour auto-off feature and a stretch-fit skirt.
Leggett & Platt >>The company’s gel bedding materials provide several benefits, including comfort and support (left top) from “cylinders” that adjust to the individual’s body shape, and airflow (left below) as seen in this square-shaped gel structure to enable a cooler sleeping experience.
Soft-Tex >> The SensorPEDIC® SensorGel® Collection offers open-cell memory foam that is more breathable and engineered fabrics that help reduce thermal build-up.
Comfort Revolution >> The Hydraluxe gel in the Breast Cancer Research Foundation pillow stays cool to the touch and cradles the head and neck to aid muscle relaxation.
Softline Home Fashions >> When it comes to technology, sometimes low-tech is the way to go. The Simple Shade curtain and rod can be installed without screws or tools. Mounting tape is pre-attached to the rod back. The pair of 42-inch wide curtains are equipped with pre-attached hooks. Installation is a simple matter of peeling off the mounting tape backing, pressing the rod on the wall, then hanging the curtain on the rod using its attached hooks.
MindsInSync/Aquatopia >> The Deluxe Memory Foam Nap Mat is an all-in-one, machine washable memory foam mat, fleece blanket and pillow.

New resources that use technologies in varied ways to enhance products and their promotion and sale

New technologies continue to permeate the home textiles industry in many ways, from improving products to making ordering and promoting brands easier. Here are details on some of technology’s most recent contributions to the field.

Controlling Cold, Heat & Comfort

The challenge of relieving sleepers who embrace the enveloping feeling of foam, but who crave a cooler night’s sleep than foam allows is met by Comfort Revolution in its pillows that layer memory foam with Hydraluxe gel. The gel technology stays cool to the touch as the pillow cradles the individual’s body shape to help relax muscles. The company claims that Hydraluxe gel sleeps cooler and stays cooler longer “than any other pillow.”

Sleep Innovations offers the Gel Memory Foam with Cool GelHD Reversible Pillow. Sleepers can enjoy the foam side in cooler environments, but flip the pillow over to the gel top layer when the temperature rises, to insure they enjoy an enhanced cooling experience throughout the night.

Soft-Tex has taken a comprehensive three-pronged approach to deal with the “hot-foam” challenge in its SensorPEDIC® SensorGel® Collection. Robert O’Connell, executive vice-president of sales and marketing, Soft-tex, explains, “Our patented super open cell memory foam is more breathable and sleeps cooler than traditional memory foam materials and by coupling this technology with our ventilation fabrication process, we’ve created a memory foam material that is five times more breathable than our leading competitors. Last and certainly not least is our advanced engineered fabric technology that helps reduce thermal build-up, but also further enhances the products’ breathability, which allows our memory foam customers to sleep cool and comfortable all night long.”

For those in climates where the temperature drops, Biddeford Blankets helps sleepers remain toasty warm with the machine washable Sherpa Therapeutic Heated Mattress Pad. The plush high pile, stitched in a quilted diamond pattern, is soft to the touch. LED digital controls allow heating zone adjustments to suit the individual’s preferences. The heat is also graduated throughout the pad with higher levels incorporated into the foot area.

There is a 10-hour auto-off safety feature, a stretch-fit skirt that expands to a 22-inch depth for a snug fit and a five-year warranty.

MindsInSync, inventor of the original memory foam bath mat, offers innovative comfort solutions for use throughout the home. Aquatopia is MindsInSync’s family brand that includes products to enhance children’s bath-, nap- and play-time. In 2012, Aquatopia rolled out the first memory foam collection for kids.

According to MindsInSync, most nap mats available at retail are lightly quilted with fiberfill that offers little support or cushioning. Minds In Sync claims it is the first to incorporate memory foam in the nap mat category. The Deluxe Memory Foam Nap Mat is an all-in-one sleep set ideal for use in daycare and for preschoolers at home or while traveling.

The mat features memory foam for cushioned comfort as well as an attached soft fleece blanket and pillow. The machine washable mat/pillow/blanket can be rolled up for easy transport.

Advancements On The Web

Vicki Payne, host of the “For Your Home” home-improvement tv show and designer of several home textile lines, believes that internet technology has made it easier for retailers to test new brands and products before making substantial commitments.

“Some retailers are using online e-commerce sites to test the sell-ability of merchandise before carrying it in brick-and-mortar stores,” Payne says. “The trend is good for everyone. ‘Sleeper’ designers and brands get a trial run that they otherwise would not have had—most retailers wouldn’t want to replace shelf space devoted to big-name brands with a new, lesser-known line.”

Payne also gives kudos to Pinterest, one of the newer and fastest growing social media that builds interaction around images. For graphically- and fashion-oriented fields, such as home textiles, the visual focus affords great insights into what consumers are excited by and embracing.

“You can see what people are responding to by what they are repinning,” she explains. “I can see what my viewers’ and customers’ homes look like and the kinds of things they’ve purchased when they pin their own photos. This helps me in future planning and designing.”

Surya launched its Pinterest page in April 2012 and has more than 30 inspiration boards posted based on a broad range of themes and trends. It held the Surya Spaces Pinterest Contest in October 2012, inviting customers to submit a photo of an interesting residential project where they used Surya products. All the projects are showcased on Surya’s Pinterest page at pinterest.com/suryasocial.

Winners were selected based on the highest number of repins during the voting period. In addition to exposure through Surya’s social media channels, participants won $750, $500 or $250 off a future order.

“Pinterest offers consumers and designers the ideal venue to congregate and share design ideas,” says Surya president, Satya Tiwari. “The highly visual social media site is an excellent platform for our customers to promote their design portfolios. Through this contest, Surya can help bring these talented designers and retailers to the attention of 23 million inspiration seekers.”

Hunter Douglas has created an iPad app called “The Art of Window Dressing” that allows users to see how actual products will look on their windows. The app recently won “Best Design Mobile Application” and “Best Consumer Goods Mobile Application” Mobile WebAwards from the Web Marketing Association. The app was developed by Hunter Douglas in conjunction with Enlighten of Ann Arbor, MI, and Visual IT Ltd. in the U.K.

The app’s features include:

  • The “Fashion Show” that includes hundreds of interiors showcasing the company’s custom window designs.
  • The “Dress A Window” section that enables consumers to preview how products look in either sample room scenes or in their own homes.
  • The “Swatch Sorter” that allows organized browsing through fabric and material choices.
  • The “Workbook” in which room renderings can be saved with product specifications for sharing via e-mail and Facebook, and when visiting dealers.
  • The ”Dealer Locator” listing retailers where consumers can make their purchases.

The app is available at the iTunes App Store as well as through a link on the company’s website at hunterdouglas.com.

The internet continues to afford the opportunity to provide product and category education not only to consumers, but to sales associates as well. Leggett & Platt has created an online social network for industry retail sales associates where they can interact and learn in a fun way.

“We learned from a survey that people wanted more professional development and that’s why we created Geek University,” says Mark Quinn, segment vice-president of marketing, Leggett & Platt. Geek University is an online training platform for the bedding industry that is free to anyone in the industry. A weekly blog, industry news, quizzes and opportunities to win money supplement the learning opportunities.

There is also a video series called “Sleep in 60 Seconds,” that offers a one-minute compilation of tips designed to help sleep professionals on the selling floor. Visit sleep-geek.com to register and participate in the website.

Whether it involves materials, processes or digital developments, technologies relevant to home textiles continue to enhance the lives of consumers and the work lives of professionals who sell and create products for them.

Resources


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