By Vicki Matranga
Design Programs Coordinator
Informing Innovation: An Interview with Marsha Everton, The AIMsights Group
The AIMsights Group focuses on analysis, insights and targeted marketing strategies to help companies “get smart” about Millennials and Boomers – and how they influence each other. AIMsights products and services include custom research and analysis for single or multiple clients, consumer-centric strategic planning, AIMsights reports and Thought Partner advisory services.
Marsha Everton is a leading housewares industry expert. Prior to establishing her consulting
practice, Marsha worked for more than 20 years for The Pfaltzgraff Co., rising to the position of president and CEO. In a series of leadership roles, she developed Pfaltzgraff as the leading casual dinnerware brand and company in the U.S. Her vision established Pfaltzgraff as an early leader in multi-channel retailing with one of the top 500 retail websites in the nation. She has been widely recognized as a housewares industry leader, serving as president of the National Tabletop and Giftware Association as well as on the boards of the International Housewares Association, National Retail Federation and The Bon-Ton Stores, Inc.
Whitney Ryan, AIMsights Millennial associate, is the voice of a new generation of consumers, with fresh perspectives on inter-generational dynamics. This is Whitney’s fifth year of co-presenting in the International Home + Housewares Show Innovation Theater. Whitney is the “digital native” on the AIMsights team, providing in-depth expertise on social media and all things digital.
Marsha, what is the most exciting or rewarding part of your work? What fuels your inspiration?
We love that every day brings new discoveries. We are passionate about observing and analyzing the ways that consumers live their lives and make purchase decisions. Technology has transformed every aspect of our lives and decision-making processes. In this quickly changing context, we enjoy exploring how consumers use products, respond to brands and retailers, and how they interact with and influence each other. The old marketing and learning models are forever changed. We now have to think about the entire ecosystem of influences. There is no longer just one way to target a consumer.
We enjoy listening, observing and asking nuanced questions to dig below the surface and discover what is really driving a consumer’s decision-making process. We often discover something that is generally “known” but we see it in an entirely new way. This new perspective offers opportunities for differentiation and competitive advantage.
In the past few years, what has changed most in your business? How has your company met these challenges in the way you do your work?
The internet and especially mobile access to that information have changed every aspect of our business and the housewares industry. Consumers research and shop across multiple channels and then choose when and where to make their purchase. They trust reviews from total strangers more than a company’s description of the product or service. Trends are rapidly globalized.
The connectivity changes the relationship between generations and demographic segments. The old rules of segmentation no longer apply. Younger consumers teach and influence older consumers as well as the more traditional “old teaches young” model.
At AIMsights, we analyze and provide insights into this post-demographic, consumer-powered world and help our clients reach consumers when, where and how the consumer wants.
Why did you choose to speak at the International Home + Housewares Show?
This Show is the place where every dimension of the industry gathers and connects. We listen, share, explore and learn.
Work, Love, Play: Millennials Reshaping Your Business
Lakeside Center, Room E350
March 7, Monday, 10:30 – 11:20 am
Tell us what you will be speaking about and how and this topic is important for Show audiences.
We will explore the blurred boundaries across work, family and individual spheres. We will share how attracting and retaining Millennials as employees compares to attracting and building loyalty with Millennials as consumers.
As we worked on programs to market products and services, we started to see parallels in how employers need to market their workplace. The balance of power is shifting between the generations, with digitally savvy younger generations now having knowledge and skills that older employees do not. These empowered Millennials have expectations associated with this shift in power.
In the Millennials’ “always connected” world, with increasingly blurred boundaries, marketing your product and marketing your workplace begin to look a lot alike.
AIMsights has conducted a proprietary research project to better understand these boundaries – or lack of boundaries, especially in how and when we communicate. It’s a whole new world for business. We will present our topline findings in the Innovation Theater.
You’ve presented in the Innovation Theater before. What are you looking forward to most from speaking at the Innovation Theater?
We enjoy the interactive environment of the Innovation Theater. It gives us energy. We share findings. Excellent questions are asked. We discover new avenues for exploration.
What do you see as consumers’ biggest concerns regarding housewares products?
Over and over again, the consumer tells us that she/he is looking for value – and that value is not just about price – and that it’s hard to find. The product needs to earn its place in their homes and lives by meeting a real need and functioning well. Price still matters, but it’s only one factor.
What are some of today’s trends or issues that new product development professionals and/or retailers face in the housewares market?
One of the most important trends is that we are selling more than physical product. We sell the entire experience and must incorporate consumer expectations for total transparency, deep-rooted authenticity, social purpose, contribution to a healthy work/life balance – and a feeling of joy in using the product.
In a world where what is old is new again, we are also finding that the old design mantra of “form follows function” is as important – or perhaps more important – than ever. We see a long-term trend toward quintessential product – with consumer-centric design that really works and feels “right” – and connected, empowered consumers who support the trend.
Thank you, Marsha, for this glimpse of our society’s connected generations. Your message will resonate with listeners of every age. We look forward to learning from your program on Monday March 7 at 10:30 am.
Also follow AIMsights @AIMsights and Facebook.com/AIMsights.
The four days of the 2016 International Home + Housewares Show will be packed with events and education. To help you plan your valuable time at the Show, we introduce you to the speakers and the 21 exciting presentations that will take place in the Innovation Theater in the Lakeside Center. Gain cutting edge insights that you can apply to your work. All programs are audio-recorded and will be available at www.housewares.org after the Show.