Google’s ‘Connected Home’ Created the Biggest Buzz at Nationwide’s Primetime Event

Every year the Nationwide Marketing Group holds two major “Primetime” events, bringing manufacturers and retailers together to learn about the latest in appliance, bedding, electronics, and business resources. This year’s summer event took place August 20-23 in Las Vegas at the Sands Convention Center and occupied 200,000 square feet of space, with more than 200 vendors and over 3,000 attendees.
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Every year the Nationwide Marketing Group holds two major “Primetime” events, bringing manufacturers and retailers together to learn about the latest in appliance, bedding, electronics, and business resources. This year’s summer event took place August 20-23 in Las Vegas at the Sands Convention Center and occupied 200,000 square feet of space, with more than 200 vendors and over 3,000 attendees.

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Google Home Demo with Nest

For those who aren’t familiar with the Nationwide Marketing Group, they are North America’s largest buying group with more than 3,100 members operating more than 11,000 storefronts and $15 billion in combined annual sales. While many of the members make up local, regional, and national retail stores that are primarily focused on home appliances and bedding, there is another part of the group focused on the custom integration channel, which goes by HTSN, Home Technology Specialists Nationwide.

HTSN formed back in 2015, and since then has added many great new product lines that bring added value to its custom retail members. At the show, they announced the addition of Thiel Audio, Zektor, and Hunter Douglas.

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Nationwide Connected Home BoothThe HTSN area of the show featured many vendor demonstrations, including Audioquest, Control4, Epson, Sony, Paradigm, Polk, and Sanus, along with an impressive Dolby Atmos theater room showing what happens when you put it all together and create a great customer experience.

There was a lot to take in, but the area with the most buzz was the Connected Home Display. This virtual home featured various smart devices in real-world applications that were being demonstrated by employees from Google. This is all part of the Nationwide “Works with Nest” initiative that has been benefiting all of the groups members regardless of category assortment. 

I spoke with Hank Alexander, director for HTSN, and he shared more about why they started this program and focused it around the Nest brand. “We started this program about a year ago as a way to help retailers focus on the ‘do it for me’ market with simple solutions that all worked together,” Alexander said. “Nest was an obvious choice, due to their market dominance as the number-one connected home brand, and the repeat buying habits of Nest customers.” 

According to Nest, 56 percent of Nest Pro customers buy more Nest products after their initial purchase, and 42 percent of first-time Nest buyers are likely to return to the original store within 30 days of that first purchase. With Nationwide members having more than 11,000 store fronts, that seems like a great reason to have chosen Nest as a partner.

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Smart Home EntranceWhile at the booth, I met Trey Thofner, president of Jetson’s, a five-store chain based in South Florida, who was excited about this program and was in the process of rolling it out in his stores. When I asked him what he liked about the program, he said, “This program was an easy fit with our appliance and electronics business. Nationwide has made it easy to provide Nest and other Works with Nest partner brands to our clients, along with all of the marketing materials we need to successfully demonstrate them to our customers. As the entire connected home market continues to grow, we will be on the cutting edge.”

To this point, Nationwide has put together a variety of marketing assets, from stand-alone displays to the full connected-home package or sections of the display that were shown at the Primetime event. They have also created packages and marketing collateral and video content that can play throughout the store on MemberNet TV, which is a custom created co-branded 4K feed of product videos that help support the brands and products that members are offering in their store.

To complement its Connect Home presentation and Works with Nest program, Google had employees in attendance giving demonstrations of their Google Home product and how it integrated with Nest and the other partner brands. This Google and Nest partnership with Nationwide is a group exclusive program that brings added value to Nationwide members. 

“Google has done a great job with the Google Home product, especially in the DIY market. However, there is a very large group of consumers that want assistance with their technology, and Nationwide’s retailer reach is one of the largest,” Alexander explained of the group’s exclusivity. “Google and Nest refer to these resellers as “pro-tailers.” These professional retailers are already in the customer’s home delivering appliances, TVs, etc. and providing great service. Having them hook up a Google Home or Nest product is a natural opportunity.” 

It certainly seems that Nationwide has found a way to simplify the “do it yourself,” and “do it for me” market space for it’s retailers, while making it extremely easy for everyone involved. With group exclusive partners such as Google and Nest, they bring some great credibility to the program that is already looking like a success, based on dealer feedback and the activity at the show. 

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