AVB’s Chad Evans ponies up to the Main Stage to announce the “WINtucky Derby”-themed Stampede.

Merchandising chief Chad Evans jockeys members toward ‘Winner’s Circle’

By Alan Wolf, YSN

AVB’s Merchandising Vice President Chad Evans topped off an info-packed Monday at Summit 2024 with an overview of the marketplace and a wealth of winning deals at the bi-annual Stampede.

Setting the business backdrop for the balance of the year, Evans began by examining the U.S. labor market, which is presently enjoying historically low unemployment. It’s far cry from 2020, the peak year of COVID, when the pandemic led to a sharp spike in joblessness, and the current two-thirds of Americans either working or actively seeking employment bodes well for consumer spending.

However, the housing market remains a major hurdle to home goods sales, as stubbornly high mortgage interest rates have convinced current homeowners to stay put. That’s led to a dearth of existing housing stock, Evans showed, which in turn has driven up prices and put homeownership out of the reach of many middle-class Americans. Whether inflation will ease sufficiently for the Federal Reserve to lower interest rates this year and help make home ownership more affordable remains to be seen.

On the marketing side, Evans reiterated a major point of Monday’s presentations: that sales activity still spikes around major holiday windows, and that ads and websites that tout special holiday promotions draw significantly more clicks than those that don’t.

Similarly, the performance gap is widening between members who are fully engaged in AVB’s arsenal of marketing and operational tools and those who aren’t, rising from 10% to 15% year over year. Understandably, members were cautious during the first half of 2023 due to macroeconomic uncertainty and didn’t invest in driving their businesses, Evans said. But optimism later returned and dealers who primed the marketing pump enjoyed a successful second half.

Indeed, the appliance industry has since snapped back to its pre-pandemic profile, he noted, as shoppers returned to physical stores, last year’s precipitous promotions have normalized, and duress purchases have soared by 70%.

Those members who “won” the resurgence shared several common strategies, Evans said:

  • They set proper marketing plans and budgets
  • They offered competitive pricing
  • Their websites touted promotions, showed available inventory and offered multiple payment options

 Evans joined AVB’s senior leadership in urging those members who are still on the sidelines to dip a toe in the AVB Marketing waters and watch the results.

It was then off to the races, as Evans assumed yet another new persona to kick off this Summit’s Stampede with a palomino companion in tow. The deal-o-rama of show specials reflected this year’s theme of “WIN,” as a jockey-attired Evans led members to the “WINtucky Derby” Winner’s Circle of limited-quantity deals.

Evans quit horsing around long enough to reflect on yesterday’s Stampede. “Our vendor partners and the BrandSource team spent a ton of time getting the best opportunities for Stampede,” he said. “The vendors are looking to make deals and drive business.”

Members were champing at the bit to secure the limited time buys, which can save enough money to choke a horse, and dealers jockeyed for position at the dozens of vendor stations.

“Hi ho, Silver,” Evans was heard to say as he left the ballroom. “Away!”

YSN publisher AVB BrandSource is the nation’s largest merchandising and marketing co-op for independent appliance, mattress, furniture and CE dealers.

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