Wrapping up the winter show season, it is obvious that there’s a lot of potential in the flooring industry. New technologies, new products, new marketing strategies—it’s intriguing to see how marketers are using consumer research, their personal experience and plain old gut instinct to tell their story and sell more flooring.

From the 30,000-foot view, we’ve seen the tide of resilient flooring take over the industry in recent years, and now everyone and their brother seems to be using “waterproof” or “water resistant” as the key words in marketing collateral. So much so that I keep anticipating the retailer who will give away a canoe with every waterproof flooring purchase. (If you’re already doing this, please send us pics. It would make for a fun story). Granted, 2017 gave us a lot to worry about with the hurricanes and floods in the southern states, but as one industry executive noted, “It’s not like homeowners are hosing off their floors every morning, so how waterproof do they really need to be?”

It’s something we can chuckle about, but every marketer needs a story, and waterproof is the story that’s working now. It’ll be interesting to see how this waterproof message will transform over time, opening up the possibility that consumers may be okay with using these flooring technologies for other home projects, like bathroom walls or showers.

Opening new markets isn’t just for product. We heard the message at every buying group convention we went to this season: diversify your product mix or market reach to capture more dollars. Many traditional flooring retailers are expanding into offering more wall tile. Others are expanding their reach by opening more branches, adding a bid or Main Street commercial division, going after builder business, or adding an outlet store. Other retailers are casting a wider net by adding kitchen cabinets, plumbing fixtures, closet systems, window treatments or lighting.

At its winter convention, CCA Global offered Carpet One Floor & Home members a new Sleep Boutique after testing the concept in 20 stores with good success. Responding to a need expressed by its members, Carpet One also introduce a new concept, Flooring Outlet by Carpet One.

Diversifying a flooring business is no easy feat. Teaming up with quality suppliers, partnering with experts and hiring the right staff is key. It’s about allocating the right amount of floor space, effectively merchandising product, positioning your brand and marketing that story. It also comes down to business acumen and what makes sense for any particular market.