The Danish furniture manufacturer Engelbrechts is on a journey towards increased focus on the business-to-consumer segment. This journey is meant to strengthen the entire business in terms of marketing opportunities and visual appearance.
‘We’re at a very exciting stage in the business now. I sense that we stand in front of a quantum leap. At the same time, people are critical towards the products that you present them for, and it’s actually a cool little lesson that we have to have a good story and a great product. You can’t force this’, says Morten Engelbrecht.
As Engelbrechts’ founder and creative director, Engelbrecht collaborated with the Danish fashion designer Mads Nørgaard a few months ago. It was a step towards a new marketing style for the company that could strengthen the business-to-consumer segment of the market. By dressing the renowned KEVI chair, designed by the Danish architect Jørgen Rasmussen in 1958, in Nørgaard’s famous stripes, Engelbrecht and his team rejuvenated the entire chair.
‘Jørgen Rasmussen was actually a young friend of Jørgen Nørgaard, Mads Nørgaard’s father, so in a way, we united two Danish design traditions. To us, it’s a new way of doing collaborations, where there has to be some kind of connection and a story. When we bring new products to the market today, there has to be a good story to follow with it. It’s better to tell a real story about the furniture, and it’s easier to communicate a real story than pass on something the marketing division has come up with’, says Engelbrecht.
Engelbrechts works in collaboration with designers and other specialists to develop modern, timeless furniture. The company started out as an import company with agencies for several different design brands, but today it is a full-blown design brand itself. The CHAIRIK chair, which was designed by the Danish designer Erik Magnussen in 1996, marked the company’s transformation into a wholly self-manufacturing furniture company.
Furniture for People
In line with the transformation from being an import company to becoming a design brand, Engelbrechts has also undergone a transformation in terms of their marketing strategy. In the past, the company marketed their products by putting them in the windows of their store in the middle of Copenhagen. Today, though, marketing is a whole different concept.
‘When we marketed our products in the late 1990s, we had very few ads and marketing campaigns. Perhaps that’s one of the biggest mistakes we’ve made—we didn’t seek to create a bigger brand from the beginning. But the thing is that we targeted the business-to-business segment back then, and it’s a bit different than targeting the business-to-consumer segment. It’s hard to do the same marketing exercises in business-to-business than you do in business-to-consumer’, says Engelbrecht.
Another marketing exercise occurred recently when the company’s latest catalogue hit the streets. Before the current catalogue, there were no people to be found in the materials presenting the brand’s furniture. According to Engelbrecht, people rarely appear in the catalogues because they hide the furniture. But with the latest catalogue, Engelbrecht asked Danish photographer Søren Solkær if he had any ideas for creating different universes.
‘We found a team of passionate ballet dancers and had them dance around our furniture pieces while Solkær shot a lot of photos. Furniture is all about people, so it was a way of dressing our furniture with real humans, creating a visual story that makes the whole experience more engaging’, Engelbrecht says.
Engelbrecht knows from experience that the business-to-consumer segment also demands many other considerations in addition to a quality marketing strategy. According to Engelbrecht, all his company’s products are created for perceptive, quality-conscious users whether they are marketed for the business-to-business market or the business-to-consumer market.
‘With every detail in our furniture, we seek high quality. There are no standard parts used in our furniture, and we see it as a virtue that we create our own parts because they have a clear functionality in relation to how the furniture is used and looked at every day. There are no details on our furniture without any functionality, and there’s always an explanation as to how our furniture is put together’, says Engelbrecht.
An Entirely Different Business
When describing the difference between working with the business-to-business market and the business-to-consumer market, Engelbrecht gives one example:
‘When we do conference centres with let’s say 5000 chairs, there are certain demands to live up to, e.g. making the chair a bit smaller so the developer can fit perhaps 50 more chairs in the end and thereby maximise his or her profit by selling more tickets for future events. In the business-to-consumer segment, customers are aware of something completely else—they usually don’t have to fit more than 12 people at a dining table, so the attention to how the chair looks and feels is completely different. Every detail matters, and is, in our case, developed from scratch’, Engelbrecht states.
He and his team have made the business-to-consumer segment of their business bigger for two reasons. The first is that the company wants to make their customers ambassadors for their products by making them remember Engelbrechts furniture and solutions when a meeting room, canteen, or reception area is built at their workplaces.
‘The other, and perhaps equally important, reason is that if you have more furniture targeted to the business-to-consumer market, your catalogue will usually be a bit more exciting to look at. You’ll just get a wider spectrum of furniture because you must nurture the two different kinds of markets. The business-to-consumer part of the business keeps the whole visual part of our business sharper, you can say’, states Engelbrecht.