8 Creative Tips for Showroom Displays

As manufacturers outdid each other's booths to market new wares, the floor of the 2011 Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS) in Las Vegas was a study in how to position products to sell based on the latest design trends and product technology.

"Showrooms need to distinguish themselves because so many people can go online and buy these things," said Mike Reffner, wholesale group product manager for Moen.

Reffner and representatives of other kitchen and bath product manufacturers offered these tips to make a trip to the showroom worthwhile.

•Mix up materials. Blend elements in kitchen displays: use steel, wood, tile, and stone together to highlight the popular trend homeowners and pros are looking for. For example, the simple steel cabinet door that jazzed up the Grothouse Lumber wood countertop display at KBIS was an easy and inexpensive way to acknowledge the style, Denise Grothouse said. Meanwhile, Daltile showed off tiny tiles with bits of metal and surrounded by ceramic mosaics and it paired glass pieces with stone.

•Install mirrors to grab attention. Pair a vanity with a matching mirror, Native Trail's Naomi Neilson Howard recommends. Not only does the setting offer a complete, easy-to-envision suite but it peaks customers' interest from anywhere in the showroom. "Some people don't have space to include a mirror but it really makes a difference," she said.

•Flow water to sell faucets. "People like to touch running water," Reffner said, so install a quiet recirculating pump beneath a faucet display to run water at no loss. Attendees could turn on a shower at the Moen booth and feel the flow the company's brochure describes, and they could try the tap-on, tap-off technology of Delta's Touch2O fixture.

•Include wood for warmth. Add a touch of wood to the display because “it softens and warms the room, specifically the kitchen,” Grothouse said.

•Create modern flare with oversized elements. Enkeboll's extra-wide and metal-painted products in its KBIS booth made the firm's traditional trim look ultra-modern. The vendor displayed its new metallic-glazed trim line as anything but trim, including a tub base, a picture frame, and a vase holder. “It's our way of showing designers you can use molding, balusters, columns, in more ways,” spokeswoman Nancy Joseph said.

•Illustrate multiple looks. Most pros and homeowners need help visualizing the finished look, so show complete options, details, and varieties of color and texture in one display. “It's important to see all the different ways they can put it together in the house,” Kohler's Vicki Hafenstein said of the firm's new 12-piece Tresham bathroom collection, arranged in a variety of setups to show off its versatility. Or do like Glastender, which stocked its stainless-steel residential bars with ice and beverages. When space is limited, compile a photo book of room scenes from your recent projects to show what the showroom cannot. “If you can help them visualize, the dealer will have a better chance of making the sale,” said Daltile's Lori Kirk-Rolley.

•Save space by pairing products. Brent Spann of Eldorado Stone, which introduced nine new lightweight stone fireplace surrounds at the show, offered one design suggestion: set fireplaces back-to-back to save showroom space.

•Take advantage of multimedia props. The story of how artisans hand hammer Premier Copper Products' sinks from blocks of copper was one of the biggest selling points at the manufacturer's KBIS booth, Melissa Riche said. She suggested mounting a TV above products that flash a slideshow of the entire product line or a demonstration of how the products work or are installed to keep customers' engaged in the showroom.

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