Reaching Out to The World

Many of us glorify the design and quality of foreign-made furniture, especially those from the West. What about those that are Made-in-Malaysia? Are their designs not up to par?

To share some facts, Malaysia is the eighth largest furniture exporter in the world and third in Asia. Some 90% of our local furniture products are exported. Currently, our export market extends to 160 countries with a staggering value of RM7.96 billion in 2010 (34.9% to America and 18.7% to Europe).

The above statistics show that there is high demand for Malaysian-made further globally. The question is are we selling it as Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM), Original Design Manufacturer (ODM) or Original Brand Manufacturer (OBM)?

The value of furniture can be further raised in terms of design & branding by enhancing their prestige and possibly by means of quality assurance. Obviously, these attributes create emotional bonding with the design and loyalty of the brand.

Value creation

At the end of the day, Malaysian furniture manufacturers will need to move up the value chain with value creation. If you had visited the Malaysian International Furniture Fair 2012 (MIFF) and Export Furniture Exhibition Malaysia 2012 (EFE) in early March, you would have noticed that we are moving up the value chain.

Having worked with several notable furniture brands and as a frequent visitor to furniture fairs, I would like to share some branding and marketing observations as well as recommendations.

Basic Communications:
Be doubly sure that you catalogues, company profile and other marketing materials portray a good impression. Given that there are so many similar furniture designs in the marketplace, good copywriting in communication materials can help bring out key messages that are engaging.

Corporate brand association & engagement:
Help your customer to choose you. With so many industry players, we have to find a niche in our brand and doubtlessly, an ideal market position.

Branding in export markets
Your distributors or importers might be selling numerous brands. The likelihood is that your end customers might not even know that they are buying your products. Make your brand the preferred one by having the following:

  • A section or corner dedicated to the display of all your products. Support them with proper signage, posters, profiles, etc.
  • A product tag with product specification and signing it off with your brand logo.
  • Product catalogue co-branded with your brand.
  • Offer to provide certificates of warranty directly from your company to end customers.
  • Don’t go for mass advertising without getting the in-store and basic materials in place. It might attract customers in but only to buy other brands instead of yours.
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