Ashley HomeStore is the #1 furniture retailer in North America. The brand uses a unique structure as a manufacturer, retail owner-operator, and licensor to more than 150 licensees. The Nebraska franchise consists of three locations: Kearney, Grand Island, and North Platte.
Having the support of a large corporation can come with its challenges. While brand recognition is normally a positive, in the case of the Nebraska Ashley HomeStores it resulted in a misperception. Residents in mostly rural central Nebraska saw these stores as big-box retailers. In actuality, these HomeStores are locally owned and operated by two Nebraska-born businessmen who have generated millions of dollars of improvements and additions to their communities. We sought to leverage the power of the #1 furniture brand, while still being relatable to the local communities building trust and sales.
It was an ambitious challenge and without additional budget. In order to work within the confines of the existing media plan and budget, the team turned to the imagery and messaging. Beautiful product photography that was being used was meant to be inspirational, but when paired with the promotion driven copy, it further enforced the consumer misconceptions. Turning to social media, photos were gathered from actual Ashley HomeStore customers that had upgraded their home with a new furniture purchase. Rather than focusing on sales-driven messaging, there was focus on an aspirational tone.
By leaning on user-generated content, the campaign localized the brand and the stores. This built an authentic connection with their consumers and long term brand loyalty. Engagement with the stores’ social media content increased from 4% with corporate provided assets to 20% after moving to user-generated content.