Why Sink with Antiques when New Buyers want Material Culture and Decorative Arts?

In 1 on October 21, 2009 at 10:28 pm

After checking in at several Antique and Art Shows this weekend, it’s clear to me that antique show promoters and antique dealers need to take a step back and rebrand.

Every other category of popular culture –  from fashion to music to the auto industry – has hit highs and lows.  What did they do in the slumps to keep up with the times and save their profit margins? They rebranded.

What?  You say you can’t spend a fortune on a rebranding agency? OK, then look at it this way…

As I said to Walt Borton a few months ago, “More people would buy antiques if they weren’t so stuffy.”

“The people or the antiques?” Walt quipped. After LOL we started talking about the effect words have on people.

Take cruise, for instance. Cruise  can be visualized as a relaxing vacation on a floating hotel … or taking the helm yourself on coastal waters…or bar hopping in New York’s Meat Packing District.

The word antiques – particularly “museum quality antiques”  – conjures images of something ancient and untouchable. In other words nothing anyone under 40 wants to  have hanging around the house. The mortgage, the kids, they’re enough of a responsibility. No one has time to keep up antiques. So put the  “museum quality” stuff in the museum behind velvet ropes and glass vitrines.

Antique or Material Culture?

Antique or Decorative Art?

But be sure to set out the Decorative Arts and those useful pieces of Material Culture.

Antique or Material Culture

Antique or Material Culture?

Decorative Arts and Material Culture, now they’re worth paying for, worth keeping, worth maintaining. Besides, they might even be valuable. An investment that won’t diminish with time.

Get it? The new collectors you want to reach “get” Material Culture so well that they’re willing to run up the credit card to buy a piece of material culture with the right brass logo.  And, they “get” the  Decorative Arts because decorative arts fit in with the decor they have so lovingly and laboriously created.

Rebranding, you see, can be far less complicated than you thought. If Antique Show Producers and Antique Dealers and Antique Publications just moved off the “A” word, the new approach could easily catch on.  Sort of like… re-branding.


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