(2010 Vacuum Dealers Trade Association and Sewing Dealers Trade Association)
It was interesting, to say the least, to visit the 2010 Vacuum Dealers Trade Association and Sewing Dealers Trade Association. The subject of the Keynote Speaker was: How to Market Your Crap—When the Economy is in the Toilet. Some vendors appeared to buy into the problem and deal with it. Some companies seemed to believe in business as usual.
There were many very interesting displays for my 60+ target audience: In some cases the sales staff did not appear to know or recognize that appeal. The product in all cases offered great value to Seniors, but was not marketed or shown to us in that light. We had to pull the information that would appeal to Seniors from them. There were quite a few exceptions, where the Senior market was recognized. Today that may well be the biggest share of that market. One way to improve that flow of information would be to have tech people available to help out.
One major product with great appeal to all, including Seniors is the Blueair Air Filtration System. Avoiding the tech speak, this product, at a reasonable price, takes stale air, filled with germs and other bad stuff, and makes it pure and clean. To Seniors suffering from Asthma and related breathing problems this machine is low cost and awesome. Obviously, parents and children can profit from this product also. It is HEPA Silent, and can easily be moved from room to room as the situation dictates. I am sure that their larger machines (the size of computers in the 1960’s) would do a great job in hair and nail salons, but the small one at a price of about $300 or so would do well in living rooms/bedrooms. A similar product, but more expensive is IQAir. From what I understood, the two are similar but the later has more options and buttons but basically would do the same job. Both products would serve us well, but the lower priced one has more appeal.
In line with this was the FRESH WAVE products that help keep the air clean of odors. The line included a spray, a candle, and an open dish with the product inside to use in closets, and other closed air spaces. The spray is close to odorless and eliminates pet, skunk, and other foul odors easily. They also have a carpet spray and a spray that eliminates the odor of fish (a product my wife would love to have).
I have a daughter who works in a hair salon with the serious hand problems. A new product THERA-GLOVE appears to be of great help to people who need to protect their hands. My wife was so impressed that she actually purchased a pair for our daughter.
I was particularly impressed by a duster made by the WOOL SHOP for ceiling fans. The long pole with a center hole so both sides of the fan could be done made a difficult job easy. Sign me up. This company has a broad selection of other dusters, but this one caught my fancy. We are too old to climb up a ladder to clean.
The ROTHO TWINtt vacuum cleaner with an aqua filter (made in Germany) was the most impressive machine at the show. Its sheer weight disqualified it for my age group.
I am a fan of the Miele line: vacuum cleaners, dishwashers, and if I could find room in my condo their awesome coffee machine. The company has come out with a new line of dishwasher products as well as new models of their other lines. The sales staff was not as familiar as I had hoped with some of the products so I relied on Don Bowers, the head of ecommerce for Miele. His reply fully explained all of my questions, as he has done for the past decade or so. THANKS DON! For those who like the feel of freshly pressed linens, etc. Miele has come out with a somewhat compact ironer that collapses and stores easily. For us old folks, a very useful item!
Last but not least was the RoboMop, similar to the Rumba, that is battery operated and removes dust from wood or tile flooring automatically. Sounds good to me!
I have attended conventions for more than 45 years. The bad business climate that I mentioned at the start showed itself as many vendors did no actual demonstrations of their product or provider samples for owners to try out on their own. This does not mean that expensive vacuum cleaners or dishwashers should be handed out. However, some of the soaps, sprays, etc. used would help sales later. There was one line that had a high appeal: Allersearch Laboratories. This line included washing machine soap that removes allergens during washing, carpet cleaning product, pet shampoo, and related lines that would make a safe product. Seniors would be tempted to try this out first before purchasing in quantity.
The food booth was nothing worth writing about The food was poor and prices were very high. The best item was the wonderful chocolate chip cookie demonstrated during the show.
In closing, one company did a very good job: SVP WORLDWIDE handles a product of interest to my wife: the Viking sewing machine. Sales staff was familiar with the line and answered some fairly tough questions. They almost talked my wife into buying a machine! On the other side of the spectrum Brothers and Baby Lock told my wife telling the machines she owned were no longer available but provided no alternatives. They were not the friendly type.
Our hat is off to the organizers of this Convention and the Staff at the front. This was not a good economic climate but they overcame this and did a great show. They were friendly, cooperative and that was appreciated!
Perhaps next year we can do this again.
John Lustig, Sr. Feature Editor
Watch our coverage on SeniorScope this Sunday (re-air Monday and Wednesday)!