Manufacturers to providers: Stick with lift chairs

‘No other product they sell for cash can generate those types of margin dollars’
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Friday, October 20, 2017

YARMOUTH, Maine – With lift chair providers facing increasing competition, manufacturers have stepped in and launched programs to help them keep a toehold in the competitive market.

Providers are feeling the heat from not only furniture retailers like La-Z-Boy, but also discount clubs like Costco and even e-commerce giants like Wayfair.

“The lift chair market is so robust, to the degree that alternative channels are getting into the market in a bigger way,” said Micah Swick, director of Pride Sales, “and it’s only going to get bigger.”

Pride Mobility Products announced in October that it would cut the price on its lift chairs by 10% for the fourth quarter of 2017, the height of the retail selling season. Golden Technologies announced in September that it had partnered with CareCredit to offer a financing solution for lift chairs that providers can then offer to their customers, a move that it hopes will help grease sales.

The lift chair market is becoming a more crowded one because of the growing pool of potential baby boomer customers and the increasing appeal of the products, Swick says.

“Lift chairs are becoming more mainstream,” he said. “They used to be poorly designed and relegated to the elderly. That’s not the case today. Today, they’re fashion-forward, feature-rich products that appeal to a larger population segment.”

Pride Mobility sensed providers were concerned about the increased competition in the lift chair market, and the company saw the price cut as a way to get them to stick with the product category, Swick says.

“We see very clearly that providers are the best fit for the higher-end, premium products,” he said. “They’re not going to compete with Costco, but there’s opportunity in the higher-end market.”

Providers also have a level of knowledge and specialization in lift chairs that other retailers don’t have.

“The comfort of the chair comes from the size—seat-to-ground height, seat depth and back height,” said C.J. Copley, executive vice president of sales and marketing for Golden Technologies. “Providers don’t just let customers flop down into a bunch of chairs and hope one fits.”

Copley has a let-us-help-you-help-yourself mentality about the lift chair market. With Medicare cuts weighing heavily, providers need the cash and the most popular lift chairs from Golden Technologies can pull in $800 to $1,200 in profit margins, he says.

“We look at it as an excellent opportunity for retailers to make up lost revenue,” he said. “No other product they sell for cash can generate those types of margin dollars.”

Swick agrees, advising providers to left lift chairs and other retail sales “carry the industry into a new era.”