Founded in the heart of the American Midwest, Arhaus is one of the country’s premier furniture and décor brands. Its name is derived from the German word “Aarhus,” meaning house. Since its beginning in 1986, the company has expanded to more than 70 U.S. locations and steadily grown into the retail powerhouse it is today.
We spoke with Steve Bauer, Director of Digital Marketing and Analytics at Arhaus, about the company’s evolving social media strategy, the importance of leveraging influencers in the digital age, and emerging trends in the furniture space. Read the interview below:
1. Tell us a bit about yourself and Arhaus (e.g. brief company history and highlights, your role, how Arhaus got its start, etc.).
Arhaus was founded in Cleveland, Ohio in 1986 as a family business run by John Reed, who’s our owner and CEO, and his father Jack. Our first store was located in an area of Cleveland called the Flats, right on the banks of the Cuyahoga River. Our mission is to provide unique, high quality, well-designed home furniture and décor.
Our teams travel the globe for inspiration. Whether it’s to Italy, Asia, or right here in the U.S., the ultimate goal is to design our own products, create quality pieces, and bring them directly to our customers.
As for myself, I’m the Director of Digital Marketing & Analytics. I’ve been here for four years and get the pleasure of showing off this wonderful brand to the world. With such beautiful product and passionate fans, it’s very easy to get excited about spreading the message of who we are and what we do.
2. Furniture companies of all types are turning to social media to share their brand stories. How does Arhaus differentiate and distinguish itself and its messaging on social?
Our main goals in social media are to inspire and engage. While we have many different ways of measuring our impact in social media, keeping that main focus really drives our content creation. Sometimes it’s a simple image of one of our chairs, other times it’s an entire room, and in some cases we focus on lifestyle.
It’s easier for us than for others as our business is very visual and we can show a variety of perspectives. We also love to test different things. In trying to reach as many people as possible, we know that everything isn’t going to be a home run. But if we are able to truly connect with our community, the positive feedback just rolls right in.
3. What has Arhaus been able to accomplish through partnerships with interior design bloggers? Do any of your influencer partnerships, in particular, stand out, and if so, why?
A key theme through both our own design process and our customers’ process is inspiration. Over the years, Arhaus has cultivated a brand and point of view that’s unique compared to our competitors. In working with bloggers and other influencers, it’s been exciting to see their take on utilizing our products in their spaces.
One particular partner that we work with used our Rio Chair in her space, decorating around it for the Holiday season. She then went as far as to match the fabric on the chair to create four stockings that she hung from her banister, all matching the chair. It was such a fun take and definitely helps to inspire us for the future.
4. As a Director of Digital Marketing and Analytics, how do you balance the creative and analytical sides of marketing?
This is the part of my job I love the MOST! At the end of the day, what we are trying to do is trigger a positive emotional response. We want someone to feel good inside. We have a lot of smart people working on marketing plans to target the right audience, optimize our campaigns, and drive positive outcomes. At the end of the day though, we’re only going to be successful if we’re making someone feel good.
I’m lucky enough to work with a FANTASTIC creative and design team. They do a great job at showing off both our individual pieces as well as entire rooms of Arhaus product. They’re also fantastic storytellers, weaving really romantic narratives around our product. Honestly, they make my job super easy because I just get to show off their work!
The team is also really receptive to understanding how what they worked on ultimately performed. We have a very open dialogue to dissect what pieces may have worked best and where we can optimize in the future. Thankfully, with Digital Marketing, we are able to test different images, copy, placement…you name it! It all leads to the entire team performing at their peak which translates into great things for the brand.
5. Your #ArhausInMyHouse hashtag campaign is one way you’ve encouraged user engagement on Instagram. What are your tips for picking the right hashtag and successfully engaging with users on social?
First off, make it unique and include the brand if possible. We love to make things catchy whether it’s a rhyme or a clever play on words and internally we always say it has to “make you smile.” It gets people to remember it easier. And it’s social…it should be super fun.
Just as for engagement, you have to give them a reason to engage. For some people, it’s a contest. For others, they love to show off their spaces and we love to help them show off their hard work. Our customers are the greatest and we LOVE to interact with them.
Related Post: How To Create A Stellar Hashtag: 10 Tips For Success
6. What emerging marketing trends in the home furnishing industry do you feel will shape 2018 and your strategy for Arhaus?
Next year is going to be a very interesting year. Peoples’ behaviors are changing and the population, in general, is changing. Even with digital being such a relatively new medium, what worked three years ago may not work next year.
The first thing, and I’m sure this is at the top of everyone’s list, is the rise of Millennials. This segment is growing up and we need to grow with them. They don’t ingest media the same way their parents did.
The main thing is to be where the people are at, no matter who they are. Staying ahead of that trend will definitely help propel growth.
As a second focus, selling furniture online can sometimes be difficult. It’s such a sensory product category that people want to touch, feel, and be around as they would in their homes. We have some exciting initiatives to show off our product in the digital space better than we ever have before.
7. Any other upcoming projects, initiatives, or launches you’d like to share?
Be on the lookout! There’s a lot in the hopper. We don’t want to show our hand but there are some SUPER exciting things in store for 2018.
This interview has been edited for clarity.