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Manufacturers lean on product design, provider network

Manufacturers lean on product design, provider network

YARMOUTH, Maine – Pottery Barn may have a certain cachet, but HME manufacturers say their lift chairs and adjustable beds are better products. 

HME manufacturers like Pride, which makes the VivaLift Power Recliner, offer not only multiple fabric, padding and heating options but also multiple sizes, not to mention a brick-and-mortar provider network that’s able to evaluate consumers, says Jeffrey Distasio, vice president of sales. 

“Our providers have the expertise to assess a consumer’s needs to make sure it’s the right chair,” he said. “A traditional furniture retailer might be able to offer 52 fabric offerings, but they only offer one size, and, for the vast majority of consumers, one size does not fit all. It can be a bad thing if a consumer is not in the right chair for them.” 

Pottery Barn in September launched Accessible Home, a line of bath, upholstery, office, dining, bedroom and lighting products for people with disabilities and injuries, and those aging in place. The line – available for purchase on the company’s website – includes four styles of lift chairs for $1,599 to $3,599, and two adjustable beds for $1,049 to $3,098.  

Distasio also points out that Pride’s lift chairs are made to “medical specifications.” 

“Our lift chairs are more robust than what you might find at a traditional furniture retailer,” he said. “It makes a difference.” 

HME manufacturers help position providers to compete with traditional furniture manufacturers by increasingly advertising their products on multiple platforms, including TV and social media, Distasio says. 

“It’s become more important to assist in getting our name out there, so the provider doesn’t have to educate the consumer from the ground up when they walk in,” he said. “However, providers also have to make sure they utilize a variety of marketing tools to reach their targeted consumer and stress the value of their service and expertise. Having a well-trained staff is key in demonstrating expertise to the consumer.” 

HME manufacturers do supply providers with tools to help them market products, including photos and video clips, says Lawrence de la Haba, senior vice president of business development for Graham-Field, which makes home care beds. 

“We’re also enhancing our website,” he said, “to bring that awareness in a consumer-friendly manner and then turn over the business to providers.” 

Pottery Barn, of course, isn’t the first traditional furniture retailer to enter the lift chair and adjustable bed market, but the company does reach a specific demographic – the children and grandchildren of seniors. They know the brand and have disposable income, de la Haba says. 

“We see the retail market as a major opportunity for providers, but it’s increasingly challenging to compete in this segment,” he said. “They can compete, though, with their knowledge of the lines, their service and repair, and their delivery.”


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