Global targets consumers

In a sharp departure from its traditional approach of marketing exclusively to the trade, Global Upholstery is preparing to launch its first consumer advertising later this year.Maly Friedel, marketing co-ordinator for the Downsview, Ont.-based maker of affordable office furniture, says the...

In a sharp departure from its traditional approach of marketing exclusively to the trade, Global Upholstery is preparing to launch its first consumer advertising later this year.

Maly Friedel, marketing co-ordinator for the Downsview, Ont.-based maker of affordable office furniture, says the company is determined to build the Global name into a household brand, conceding it is currently ‘a blank in the consumer mind.’

Like most office furniture makers, Global has typically worked through its network of independent dealers to promote its products to the business community, which buys most of the office equipment sold in the country.

But, with the explosion in growth of home offices over the past several years, manufacturers suddenly find large numbers of run-of-the-mill consumers shopping for chairs, desks and other office furniture.

At the same time, warehouse-style retailers and office equipment specialty stores have recently arrived on the scene and are offering manufacturers new opportunities to put their products in front of potential customers.

According to Friedel, the combination of the growth of home offices and the proliferation of warehouse and specialty retailers is creating a business climate in which product branding is increasingly a necessity.

‘Generally, what we have now is a lot more consumer exposure to office products in a lot more distribution outlets,’ she says.

At least one of Global’s competitors has already begun running consumer ads.

Steelcase Canada, which targets the high end of the office furniture market, took to the airwaves for the first time last year, on cbc tv’s news channel, Newsworld, and also ran a print campaign in a number of publications targetting the business community.

Steelcase’s ad agency is Robins Sharpe Associates.

In July, Global, which was established 30 years ago and bills itself as Canada’s largest office furniture maker, hired its first ad agency, Toronto-based Ranscombe & Co. Advertising.

Previously, the company had prepared its ads in-house, with some assistance from outside agencies on special projects.

Ranscombe will look after Global’s North American communications in the trade and consumer sectors.