What's Next for Pet-Friendly Floors
With roughly 68% percent of U.S. households, or about 85 million families, owning a pet, according to the American Pet Products Association (APPA), it’s ideal to have a carpet that can withstand the inevitable messes and odors that come with our beloved four-legged friends. In this edition of Floor Trends, we look to manufacturers for the latest in pet-friendly carpets that are allowing us to live in harmony with our pets.
Consumers seek trending colors and patterns for their interiors. Also important is flooring that meets the end-users’ lifestyle in addition to their aesthetic taste. Due to active lifestyles that may include children and pets, flooring that can effortlessly withstand the wear and tear of day to day activities is in demand.
“We know that nearly two-thirds of all U.S. households have a pet and there are zero signs of this trend slowing down any time soon,” said Tim Millsaps, channel marketing manager for Invista’s Stainmaster brand. “Pet parents are looking for real-life solutions to a real-life challenge and this concept is at the heart of what the PetProtect brand delivers.”
The Stainmaster PetProtect brand offers a portfolio of flooring options so that pets can be free to join their families in any room of the home without worry.
Setting Stainmaster’s PetProtect apart from the rest of the company’s soft surface offering is the durable SuperiaSD nylon fiber that is used to make its products. “This material is soft to the touch and maintains its texture over time,” Millsaps said. “It also locks in the color of the carpet so it can resist fading when cleaned.”
Promising stain resistance, pet odor reduction, ease of cleaning and durability, the PetProtect carpet and cushion system offers these protective properties, in addition to the Stainmaster styles consumers have come to know and love.
“Stainmaster PetProtect carpets feature the same styles you love from other Stainmaster carpets—the difference is the extremely durable SuperiaSD nylon fiber we use to make it,” Millsaps said. “This material is soft to the touch and maintains its texture over time. It also locks in the color of the carpet so it can resist fading when cleaned.”
Similarly, Shaw Floors’ Lifeguard product features a worry-free carpet cushion that’s engineered to keep odor-causing spills and pet accidents contained for easy, complete cleanup. “Waterproof LifeGuard is the most advanced backing system available, making it the optimal choice for active households requiring the cleanest carpet for healthy living,” said Teresa Tran, residential soft surface category director for Shaw Floors.
Keeping an ear to the need of consumers, Shaw has made LifeGuard an optional upgrade on more styles since its introduction. “Today’s consumers demand both beauty and durability and LifeGuard gives them exactly that,” said Tran. “As an upgraded backing option on a vast number of carpet styles, consumers don’t have to sacrifice fashion for function. LifeGuard waterproof carpet backing protects against stains and soils on the surface of the carpet, while also preventing them from seeping through the backing and onto the subfloor. Waterproof LifeGuard gives consumers peace of mind with the cleanest carpet for healthy living.”
Dream Weaver’s carpets are made of PureColor nylon or polyester fiber, making them naturally stain resistant, said Mike Sanderson, Dream Weaver’s vice president of marketing. “We also treat our carpet fibers for additional stain resistance, so we’re able to offer our customers a ‘Lifetime Warranty Relief for You and Your Pet’.”
According to Sanderson, the PureColor technology in Dream Weaver’s soft nylon and soft polyester systems will ensure a carpet and its color will last up to 25 years following recommended maintenance. This promise, in addition to an offering that is continuously expanding, has been well received by consumers.
Taking things up a notch, Mohawk has applied All Pet Protection and Warranty to its SmartStrand carpet, a two-part promise that provides protection for the common—and the not so common—family pet.
“We saw that there was a lot of noise in this pet space,” said Seth Arnold, vice president of residential marketing, Mohawk Industries. “But what makes All Pet different from a customer’s prospective is that it protects against more than just domestic cats and dogs and certain types of pet accidents. We are so confident in the superiority of our product; why not protect all pets, all accidents, all the time?”
While the company recognizes that most people don’t have a monkey or a small pony that lives in their home, Mohawk takes pride in being able to say that All Pet provides protection from any and every pet.
This simple, clear-cut message has proven to be successful for the manufacturer on both the retailer and consumer side. “All Pet has taken years to really create the proof points necessary and the extraordinary product performance, and all of that comes together with a very simple message: all pets, all accidents, all the time, and it’s doing extremely well,” Arnold said.
In terms of protection, the promise for All Pet products is that they do not absorb liquid, they are easy to clean and they protect against stains. The SmartStrand fiber does not absorb or retain any liquid, and with SmartStrand Nanoloc technology, spills are kept on the surface of the fiber, making them much easier to clean.
“Our SmartStrand protection never washes or wears off, which is an added value, so it doesn’t matter how many times a pet has an accident, the stain will always come off simply and easily just like the first time they clean it,” said Arnold.
Seeing successful results and sales in the soft surface category, manufacturers are expanding their pet-friendly portfolios in various ways including product offerings and categories.
“Our success in the carpet side of PetProtect encouraged us to offer PetProtect luxury vinyl flooring this past July,” Millsaps said. “We expect to expand distribution of PetProtect luxury vinyl flooring in 2018 and continue growing the popularity of PetProtect flooring products.”
PetProtect luxury vinyl flooring has features particularly suited to the needs of hard surface flooring consumers. “The first is the ClawShield, a top coat to prevent pet claw scratches,” Millsaps said. “Next is ActionTraction, for pets on the move. Some PetProtect luxury vinyl flooring Click-to-Lock joints are 100% waterproof when installed correctly.”
Confident in PetProtect’s luxury vinyl flooring abilities, Stainmaster has put the hard surface to the ultimate durability test: doggie daycare. Installed at a facility that temporarily housed hundreds of dogs during the duration of the install, the hard surface flooring passed the test scratch-free and unscathed.
Mohawk has big plans for All Pet Protection and Warranty this year that will expand the technology across categories as well. “It has been so successful for us that we are expanding the All Pet Protection and Warranty from carpet to hard surface,” Arnold said. “So, this year, you are going to see All Pet as a central part of our merchandising and promotional strategy and it will really be what helps moves us from a category type promise to a whole flooring promise. So, we are beginning to flex the muscle we have with All Pet across multiple categories.”
This year, Shaw plans to change the soft surface game with new fiber innovations that are empowering its product designers to create stunning new carpet styles that offer unfading beauty and unfailing performance. “Our brand-new Endurance high-performance fiber retains its softness and great looks for an unrivaled appearance that stays looking beautiful for years to come,” Tran said. “And we aren’t just bragging without anything to back it up–we mean it. Bellera, the first collection to feature our new Endurance high-performance fiber, will change everything about the way the industry —and consumers–feel about carpet.”
According to Tran, all Bellera styles are backed by Shaw’s unprecedented No Surprises, Worry-free Warranty and boast unbeatable stain resistance and the ultimate waterproof protection, with the manufacturer’s patented R2X stain and soil treatment and its exclusive LifeGuard waterproof backing.
When customers walk into retailer Todd Sauter’s Carpetmaster Carpet One showroom in Latham, N.Y., those with pets are drawn to Carpet One’s Lees carpet display. “Our Lees display shows “dirty” dogs right on the display; very effective,” Sauter said.
For the customer that might not be aware of pet-friendly products, Catherine Buchanan and the sales team at Independent Carpet One in Westland, Mich., find that after sharing the attributes of the products, they sell themselves.
“We don’t often have people come in specifically looking for pet-friendly carpeting,” Buchanan said. “It’s only when we strike up conversation from the beginning of the selling process do we find the lifestyle of the client including children and pets do we direct them towards these particular lines of carpet. Once we share the attributes that either Carpet One’s H20 line by Shaw or the Trieste fibers in Carpet One’s INNOVIA and Lees or the Karastan SmartStrand life and then of course Stainmaster then the interest of these fibers becomes stronger and we are more apt to sell these brands.”
Buchanan notes that a flooring choice of a pet owner is not only important to the customer, but the customer’s pet as well. “Stainmaster has amazing POP [point of purchase] assets for their pet friendly collection,” she said. “Posters, tags, stuffed dogs and tennis ball bones for the consumers’ pet. Everyone must be happy with the purchase, even the pet.”
For the pet owning consumer who is skeptical of soft surfaces, Buchanan says with the help of product knowledge and demonstrations, retailers can use the opportunity to educate the consumer and give them confidence in carpet options.
“The consumer doesn’t have to go to a hard surface product to feel confident that their home is easy to care for,” Buchanan said. “Invest in understanding the attributes and utilize the assets provided by the manufacturers because there are so many families today that have a pet in their home. And those families with a pet include them in their everyday decision making. They are members of the family and a lot of money is invested in these fur babies. Don’t dismiss this opportunity to gain a loyal customer base.”