Flooring the Consumer: Connecting through Creative Marketing
In this month’s issue, we take a look at ways manufacturers are grabbing the attention of consumers through creative marketing strategies.
“Our goal is to make flooring easy for homeowners at every step of the process,” said Kathy Cline, marketing manager residential soft surface, Tarkett.
In order to do that, Tarkett is listening intently to customers and responding in ways that resonate with their needs, buying habits and values, and connecting with them where they are through storytelling and content marketing.
“We’ve been transitioning from more traditional marketing and advertising tactics to storytelling and content marketing,” said Cline. “Because consumers are much more likely to trust the recommendation of another person over a brand, we’ve partnered with influencers in several ways to equip them to share their experiences with Tarkett products.”
Tarkett’s social influencer program has provided several bloggers with flooring for their own home improvement projects. Helping them tell stories of their experiences with Tarkett products has been extremely successful in the promotion of introductions like NuGen rigid core LVT, which is the company’s response to homeowners’ expressed need for a durable flooring with more flexibility, easy installation, and beautiful designs for any room. Not only can its designs go anywhere throughout the home, but its waterproof construction is also safe for kitchens, bathrooms and laundry rooms.
“These strategies have increased our brand awareness in North America, and helped us connect on a more value-driven, emotional level with our audience,” Cline says. “People don’t want to just hear about their products—they want to know they can trust the integrity of the brand, and purchase products from manufacturers that share their values. These marketing efforts have helped us connect with our customers beyond our products.”
Further connecting with customers’ values, Tarkett is sharing more information about its Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives, from its commitments to sustainability and circular economy, to its partnership with Habitat with Humanity. In 2019, Tarkett became the official flooring sponsor for Military Makeover with Montel on Lifetime, which has given the company a great opportunity to both live its values as well as share its products with consumers.
This is especially attractive to millennials who have a particularly large interest in corporate responsibility and just so happen to have the most spending power of any generation. According to Boston Consulting Group, U.S. millennials wield about $1.3 trillion in annual buying power, and with about five out of six millennials connecting to companies via social media, Tarkett is strategically shifting gears to reach that market.
“Millennials have much more buying power today, and are influencing the purchase decisions of older generations,” said Cline.
Tarkett is doing more to reach millennials by offering a custom rug program which allows customers to be more involved in the process of creating their own, personalized products and finishes, and making social media more of a focus in the coming years, particularly expanding its video content for DIYers.
Mohawk is keeping the attention of consumers by building strong brand campaigns that resonate emotionally. “We’re telling stories with our brands that are specifically created to emotionally connect,” said Seth Arnold, vice president of marketing for Mohawk’s residential business.
The ‘More Moments’ campaign showcases unique, genuine and real life moments that happen on Mohawk floors. Whether it be an epic moment that includes partying with friends, music and fun, or a colorful moment that might include a paintbrush gone astray or a potty-training oops, the More Moments campaign shows the durability, beauty and comfort of Mohawk floors through compelling videos we can all relate to.
Appealing to a younger audience, Mohawk is highlighting the beauty and performance of its Pergo brand with the ‘Go Life’ campaign. “It’s all about not being afraid to really live on that floor,” said Arnold.
And for Mohawk’s luxury brand, Karastan, the ‘Live Beautifully’ campaign showcases a beautiful life well lived, says Arnold. “It’s for the discerning homeowner that is making deeper decisions. For them a beautiful life is not just aesthetically beautiful, it’s a life worth living. They are creating spaces that say something about what they find beautiful in life.”
For these targeted campaigns, Mohawk had developed a 100% digital consumer media plan. “We’re not doing any broadcast television, it’s all digital,” Arnold said. “We’re doing a lot of digital video, so people that are watching Hulu or YouTube, or it could be videos on a variety of channels like CNN or these type of things, we’re serving these videos to those channels.”
Complimenting these efforts, Mohawk is also utilizing paid social with display and native ad placements, as well as paid search.
“Organic social no longer has the reach or the relevance,” says Arnold. “Paid social typically gets 10 to 20 times the return that organic social gets. What we’ve proven is investing in targeted ad placement on Facebook will outperform organic hands down, all day long, no questions asked.”
The shift to paid strategy is also proving to be beneficial on YouTube. In the planning stages, Arnold and the Mohawk team debated on whether or not to buy media ads that force the customer to watch the entire video on the social platform, or allows them to skip after a few seconds.
“Just think for a minute about how when you see all these video ads show up in front of Hulu or something else, how often you skip them.”
Apprehensively deciding to allow Mohawk’s ads on YouTube to be skipped after a few seconds, Arnold was pleasantly surprised to find that the video completion rate for the ‘More Moments’ ads is 86 percent, meaning almost nine out of every 10 times that one of the campaign’s videos is played on YouTube, it is watched in its entirety, rather than skipped.
“Making the extra investment to produce really high quality creative is worth the money,” said Arnold. “I would rather pay a little more to get videos that nine out of 10 people watch, than skimp on the creative and have nine out of 10 people skipping your ad.”
Decision simplicity is the goal, and Arnold says Mohawk’s tried-and-true marketing strategy to create a complete experience particularly during the customer’s shopping phase continues to be beneficial as consumers make a big decision on a large ticket item that has a lot of emotion attached to it.
“Making sure that what she encounters in store, what she encounters on our branded websites, what she encounters in the retailer’s websites—whether that be in a home center or whether that be a specialty retail—that all of that is consistent in giving her the information that she needs and motivating her.”
Shaw Floors is flooring the consumer by offering unique product solutions and shopping experiences online and in-store through the use of cause-marketing and promotions.
“At Shaw Floors, we know that purchasing flooring can be a lengthy and overwhelming process for the consumer,” said Julie Beth Fisher, Shaw Floors senior marketing manager—retail. “In fact, our extensive proprietary research shows the journey to purchase flooring takes 149 days on average from start to finish. This involves everything from initial thoughts and design planning to product research and ultimately, an in-store experience. Consumers spend the majority of this time doing research online, in the comfort of their own home, making them more knowledgeable than ever when they visit the retailer.”
As the flooring landscape continues to change, Shaw Floors is committed to constantly innovating and evolving its products and services, as well as the way it markets them in store and digitally to meet the customer where they are.
We know that today’s consumers spend more time researching online and in response, Shaw has elevated its online experience with engaging and highly visual content and social media. “We utilize tools like our apps, website and social media to create personalized solutions for consumers,” said Fisher. For example, Shaw’s Floorvana app assists those in the beginning stages of the flooring process who are looking for inspiration and direction.
Shaw also supports retailers with website development and trend content, offering Shaw Web Studio, a suite of solutions to connect the retailer with their online consumer. This content aids consumers who are actively researching and educating themselves on their flooring purchase. After the sale, the Floor Care Center on shawfloors.com assists consumers with proper care and maintenance of their Shaw Floors products through step-by-step instructions on how to address household spill when accidents arise.
In store, retailers are benefiting from showroom updates like Shaw’s new merchandising systems. The new displays are bright white, sleek and modern, creating a more streamlined, simplified visual in the showroom space. These visually engaging, flexible displays also respect footprint allocation and provide an inviting space for the shopping experience.
Making the complicated, 149-day buying journey a little less overwhelming, Shaw is fusing the two methods, as seen in the company’s new ‘Color That Speaks to You’ experience, which includes online and in-store elements to help consumers feel informed, educated and confident in their carpet choice.
Considered a game-changer for the carpet selection process, ‘Color That Speaks to You’ guides the consumer through flooring options online, helping them hone in on the performance and style attributes they need and want from their flooring, allowing them to enter the store familiar with the soft surface selections and ready to buy. Once in store, the ‘Color That Speaks to You’ display, an update of the iconic Shaw Floors Anso Colorwall, has a clean and engaging aesthetic that brightens showrooms and draws consumers in.
“One fundamental element of marketing that we continue to find beneficial are promotions,” said Fisher. “Whether we are incentivizing consumers through sales, coupons or product promotions, we continue to find that this method drives consumer behavior.”
Shaw’s “We’ve Got their Back” promotion, which included a donation to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital for every sale of carpet with LifeGuard Spill-Proof Backing, was a huge success, Fisher says. Through cause marketing and promotion, Shaw was able to use its unique position as a nationally recognized brand to leverage its platform to raise awareness for the work that St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is doing each day.
While carpet cushion is often an afterthought in the sales process for both the consumer and the RSA, Shaw’s St. Jude partnership is a catalyst for conversation, making it a feel-good story on multiple levels. “Consumers were drawn in by the St. Jude donation, making it an easy sale for the RSA and a big win for everyone,” said Fisher. “In addition to selling more LifeGuard-backed carpet during the promotion, we far exceeded our donation goal of $50,000 to St. Jude.”
Similarly, Shaw Floors raises awareness and donations for St. Jude through promotions and sponsorship of events like Memphis Marathon Weekend each December and the St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway program each year. With the support of its retail partners, Shaw has donated more than $10 million to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital since 2012 through a multi-channel partnership across the company.
Since entering the market in 2018, Anderson Tuftex has had a focus on the consumer. A Shaw Industries brand, Anderson Tuftex was founded on valuable feedback from consumers throughout the U.S., and it continues to listen to trends and opportunities in the industry to make products consumers are looking for.
As consumers seem to be more connected with brands now more than ever before, Anderson Tuftex is making it a point to simplify the floor buying process by crafting intentional designs, like those found in the Unleashed collection, which made its debut this year. The collection features Stainmaster PetProtect carpets, and the two hardwood styles in the collection are Kensington and Buckingham which feature warm and cool color palettes designed to pair perfectly with the Unleashed carpets.
Not to be forgotten, print is an important strategy for Anderson Tuftex, and the brand has partnered with Domino magazine in print and online to promote the Unleashed collection. “We’re especially excited about the last issue of the year where our hardwood Kensington will be shown in one of their featured homes,” said Katie Ford, director of brand strategy. “The goal of this partnership is to create awareness and excitement for Anderson Tuftex and ultimately guide people to retailers where they can find our products.”
On the digital side, the brand is taking advantage of the opportunity to reach people on the various social media platforms. According to the Statista online portal for statistics, last year, the average person spent about 2.5 hours a day on social media, and this time is projected to increase each year.
“We’ve promoted several posts on Instagram and Facebook this year to support the launch of the Unleashed collection,” said Amelia Tritico, brand design and innovation manager. “Advertising on social media is a win-win for everyone. It’s somewhat cheaper for businesses, and we’re all on there anyway, so we’re exposed to new products and ideas all the time.”
Across social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook, video is a big deal, and these platforms are expanding their capabilities to encourage more video content posts. With that in mind, Anderson Tuftex is partnering with Stainmaster to reach out to influencers in the flooring space offering promo codes to them and their followers to receive free samples. Playing on the popular “unboxing” videos, the brand encouraging the influencers to order samples and then share about their experience with Anderson Tuftex’s consumer sample experience.
Phenix Flooring recently partnered with influencer and lifestyle blogger Robyn Davis of Robyn’s Southern Nest.
“We really love Robyn’s style,” said Darby Moraitakis, Phenix’s director of marketing. “Her designs are very bright, airy and welcoming and complimentary to the overall Phenix product portfolio.”
Tapping into the established Robyn’s Southern Nest strong digital following, Davis has highlighted the beauty and benefit of Phenix products across the digital brand’s networks.
Taking to Instagram, where influencer Davis daily reaches more than 38,000 followers through Pinterest-worthy design inspiration photos and videos, IGTV has served as a vehicle to give Phenix products even more exposure. Providing a YouTube-like feel within the Instagram platform, IGTV allows for even longer, more in-depth videos, giving users the ability to share longer pieces of content that can’t fit in the 60-second space currently allowed on Instagram’s main feed, or the 15-second space that users are given on Instagram Stories.
Because of the length of video permitted with the format, IGTV was the ideal place for Davis to showcase the addition of Phenix flooring to her very own home, from install to final interior design. “[Robyn] documented the installation process by creating a time-lapse video of the entire process, including removal of the old flooring, installation of the new Phenix flooring, and final styling of her space,” said Moraitakis.
Aligning with an influencer that brings a strong social presence is ideal for Phenix, as the company aims to be an inspiration leader across social channels. “We continue to invest in various social platforms, particularly with our Facebook and Instagram channels. We have found that our products and brand efforts resonate with and are relatable to the consumer.”
Part of creating a persona that customers can relate to is connecting with influencers like Davis who believe in and use Phenix products in their own home. “A trend among millennial shoppers is the desire to see products put to use by someone they can connect with”, says Moraitakis, “and in addition to highlighting Phenix flooring on IGTV, Davis took to her blog to explain in more detail several reasons why Phenix flooring was the perfect soft surface choice for her home, family and lifestyle.”
“[The relationship between Robyn and her followers] is unique because, even though they have likely never met, their relationship is built upon a foundation of trust,” Moraitakis explains. “Followers trust social media influencers, which means when a social media influencer promotes a brand, followers trust the brand, too. By partnering with trusted social media influencers relevant to your target audience, you can build additional brand trust.”
Beyond enjoying the look and feel of Phenix’s Modern Contours Collection, Davis highlighted the benefits of the Microban antimicrobial technology found in the collection, noting that surfaces with Microban technology remain 99% cleaner from bacteria and odors than untreated surfaces. A recognized name across industries, Phenix joins more than 200 of the world’s most recognized consumer and commercial brands in partnering with this leader in antimicrobial technology.