Each Friday, Furniture News puts five questions to a selected industry professional to explore their background and approach to business. Today, it's the turn of Vi-Spring UK's marketing manager Peter Tasker …
How did you get into the trade?
After working for several years as a retail marketing manager, I welcomed the opportunity to work for a manufacturing company where my retail experience would be of value. I joined Vi-Spring at the end of 2005. There is a real passion behind the Vi-Spring brand – the team are constantly working to develop and create the finest beds in the world. Even after more than 30 years in marketing I have never worked with a product where there is so much to say and promote, and selling propositions do not have to be invented.
What was the turning point in your career?
I was very proud to achieve the CIM Postgraduate Diploma in Marketing in 2000 after studying part time at Plymouth University’s Business School, which complemented my practical experience. The icing on the cake was winning a regional award for my practical case study exam.
How will the industry evolve?
We are faced with a population suffering from more allergies than ever before, so naturally hypoallergenic materials will become increasingly important in bedmaking. As with most Western countries, individuals here are becoming much heavier – and bigger – and as well as offering beds up to 7ft wide we have recently introduced an extra-firm tension for those over 16 stone.
There is also an emerging sentiment which argues that it is environmentally better if products last longer. As ever, Vi-Spring is committed to sourcing natural and sustainable materials of the highest quality, even if the initial outlay is greater. We can be quite sure too that in the future there will be legislation forcing bed makers to take some responsibility for the disposal of the product at the end of its life and we will fully support this.
How can retailers increase sales and profitability?
Enthusiastic and knowledgeable retail sales staff are crucial. We believe it is essential to thoroughly train key individuals in our Devon-based workshop, both about our company, its values and the products we create. The retail environment is important, with good display and in-store ambience important – we can learn a lot from our European colleagues in terms of the aspirational approach to bed sales, but retailers need to be supported with appropriate point-of-sale materials from brands.
What brings a smile to your face in this industry?
One of the first major photoshoots I got involved in took us to a beautiful house in an idyllic coastal location, with a 7ft top-of-the-range divan set. The lady of the house was delightful, and we soon got talking about beds – she tried the Vi-Spring and was totally sold. She rather shamefacedly showed us her own bed – really no more than a chunk of foam on a non-sprung base, and this in a multi-million pound house with state-of-the-art features, that had featured on Grand Designs!
We may smile, but this sums up what a massive job bedmakers, retailers and organisations like the National Bed Federation (NBF) have to do to educate people about how important a good bed is to our health and wellbeing.
This is an extract from an article published previously in Furniture News magazine. For more stories like this, you can subscribe to receive a regular physical copy of the magazine, or sign up to have a free digital issue delivered to your inbox each month.