What do Chairbiz and Products for People have in common? For those in the know, one is the evolution of the other. What started as Chairbiz in 2000 has grown, morphed and adapted into Products for People in 2016.
Australian Design Review talks to both Simon Duerden and Stewart Brown of Products for People (or P4 to their friends), to get an insight into that rebranding journey.
“Chairbiz started in 2000 and it was ahead of its time in the dot-com era. Our clients would use Chairbiz because right from the get-go we were all about the online presence. We were leading the way online – providing pricing, specification and detailed information for all of our products – so we’ve always focused on making it easier for our interior design and specifier customers.”
Despite having a large product offering, Chairbiz was often thought of for large stock holdings of the plastic chairs used across corporate and hospitality projects. This simply wasn’t the case, but the business had been pigeonholed by the market and customers continued to think of Chairbiz in this way.
Around 2010 things started to change when they began collaborating with international brands like Boss Design, Bla Station and Maxdesign, kicking off a journey down the road of local manufacturing in Australia under licence.
When ruminating on the reasons to venture down the manufacturing route, Duerden explains that “we wanted to add value to the Australian economy and also bring the high-calibre products that would usually have a long lead time down to a four-to-six week lead time.”
Perusing the Melbourne showroom, the guys point out that nearly everything on display is locally produced at their factory – whether it’s assembled from components or completely upholstered and built with local materials.
“Essentially the business evolved to a point where our offering to the market improved, followed trends more closely and thus evolved much quicker than we thought it was going to. There was a whole shift from normal office furniture to what we’re now seeing as the norm and our supply partners took the same shift in Europe, so we had to follow suit.”
Having shifted focus over time as the products expanded, there was an expectation that clients would naturally think of them differently, but it just didn’t happen.
“There were a couple of barriers that had to be broken down. We had talked about a rebrand for many years but we always felt that the Chairbiz brand had too much equity to just dump it. Looking back now, there is no doubt it was the right thing to do given how much we’ve evolved and we’re seeing the positive effects of this every day.”
Part of that journey involved them trying to come up with the perfect name on their own, as Brown describes “we came up with some really great ones, but in the end, we decided to leave it to the professionals.”
At the end of the day, it all comes down to timing and the timing was just never right. In the meantime, the team spent the last five years perfecting local production and it was this process of developing these ‘products for people’ that the name and concept for the business took hold.
“We had a long time working away at it, but if we’d jumped in too soon we wouldn’t have been as happy with it as we are now. While working on the rebrand we’ve been able to really cement our range, honing in on the concept of creating products for people, and our collection reflects that journey. We spent all of our energy becoming what we are now, which is this complete range of products that embodies our brand ethos. ”
It’s been a few months since the big launch and the team have already noticed changes.
“We’re getting customers that weren’t even coming to us before, and we’re getting enquiries for products that have been available for more than three years, only now with fresh eyes and looking at them on a fresh website, it’s like people are seeing them completely differently.”
Something both Duerden and Brown are aware of is making sure their existing clients are looked after, an important factor that any business going through a rebrand needs to be conscious of. At the end of the day, success in this industry is all about relationships – it’s all about the people.