I had the opportunity to attend the Hunter Douglas Spring 2009 Premiers release show earlier this week. Three themes emerged for me after spending a morning with Hunter Douglas professionals and I’ll detail those things over the next three days. The first theme I observed was more consumer-friendly pricing:
The most important thing I appreciate about the new direction of Hunter Douglas is that they are over their denial that the economy is not what it recently was. They are holding or lowering many of their pricing structures. In years past, Hunter Douglas would raise their prices every time a new price book came out, usually in the spring of every year.
Historically, price increases have ranged from 3 – 5%. After several years of increases, customers saw a dramatic rise in the costs to replace their window treatments, even if they purchased their current window treatments just a few years prior.
The first signs that they were opening their eyes to the reality of the economic situation was at the end of 2008 when Hunter Douglas mailed out a notice of an increase in the cost of their horizontal products like wood blinds. I can only assume that the backlash was severe because a retraction was sent out shortly thereafter saying that they were maintaining their pricing and not issuing a cost increase.
At Premiers, I was told by a number of Hunter Douglas representatives that the pricing on various products were being lowered or maintained at their current status. They also told me that many of the surcharges, which honestly can take a standard window covering and nearly double its costs, were being lowered as well. All in all, it is clear that Hunter Douglas is re-evaluating how the American consumer is making its buying purchases, and in my opinion is making the right decisions.
It is my humble opinion that high-end consumers, Hunter Douglas’ primary customers, are still buying the things they need, but they are more careful about laying out large sums of money indiscriminately. More than ever, the U.S. consumer is trying to make wise decisions. Hunter Douglas still offers a phenomenal product, and they are making sure that they maintain their market position with customer-conscious decisions.
Tomorrow, I’ll post about all the motorized window treatment options that home automation provides.