35) La-Z-Boy


wēi  danger

In 1929, cousins Edward M. Knabusch and Edwin J. Shoemaker set out to design the most comfortable chair possible. Their completed design, including an innovative reclining mechanism, received great feedback but needed a name. Combining promotion with necessity, the partners held a contest. Entries included such names as Sit-N-Snooze, Slack-Back and Comfort Carrier, but one in particular, La-Z-Boy, stood out.  The future looked bright but the cousins were in for a shock when, a few months later the stock market crashed and America entered the Great Depression.  Surely this disastrous economic climate would kill their fledgling business?

jī opportunity

The cousins saw the situation differently and understood that it might offer the perfect opportunity to build their brand.  They did everything they could to help consumers use and buy their products.  This included extending better terms, improving service and amazingly accepting barter (including farm animals). The partners did not aggressively discount, probably aware that any price reductions would be tough to reverse once the economic conditions had improved.  The company grew rapidly and exited the Great Depression in the 40’s with a truly loved brand.  The company has continued to thrive and now employs 11,000 people.

How About…

  • Harnessing difficult times to form a greater connection with your customers?
  • Having those same customers create your brand?
  • Being creative with pricing to avoid the trap of basic discounting where possible?