Floor covering retailers should know three things about today’s consumers: They have done their homework (usually online) before visiting the store. They are aware of what your competition has, particularly the big box stores  They expect you to be an expert on flooring and ensure them a professional installation job.



Floor covering retailers should know three things about today’s consumers: They have done their homework (usually online) before visiting the store. They are aware of what your competition has, particularly the big box stores  They expect you to be an expert on flooring and ensure them a professional installation job.

These and other characteristics of today’s flooring consumers are included in the findings of a new consumer study commissioned by the World Floor Covering Association. The study, which was conducted by Clear Seas Research, was based on feedback from those who had made a flooring purchase over the previous year and was conducted to determine the most recent shopping habits of consumers. Overall, the results suggest that floor covering shoppers (who are overwhelming female) are savvy, well informed and highly demanding.

“She knows what she wants, has narrowed down the choices before making the purchase, or at a minimum knows what she doesn’t want,” says a summary of the findings. It also notes that specialty stores typically draw consumers who tend to be “older, more educated and wealthier” than those who select a big box retailer. As such, retailers who focus specifically on flooring are well positioned to capture the high end of the market. As the report explains:

“Specialty store shoppers are likely to be experienced shoppers, having a better understanding of desired floor product features, color choices, manufacturer reputation and product quality. These individuals appear to be shopping for higher end, more decorative flooring solutions like carpet, hardwood, porcelain tile and stone.”

The report urges specialty storeowners to widen their appeal through a website focused on educating the consumers. “Websites that focus on product available from various manufacturers, [explaining their] features, options and color choices available will provide greater insight for consumers while showcasing specialty retailer experience and expertise,” the report concludes. It goes on to assert that information that stresses product performance and installation will appeal to shoppers who are more likely to focus on these attributes rather than hunt for bargains.

The report also recommends that specialty stores pick up the pace on direct mail ads. Shopper surveys confirm that the process of looking for new flooring is often initiated by such mailings. “Currently big box direct mail communications have a greater impact than those from specialty retailers.” The report calls on specialty stores to invest in mailings that “promote awareness and encourage consumers to get started thinking about upcoming floor purchases.”-Al Stewart


EDITOR’S NOTE: This is another in a series of reports that explore how consumers shop for flooring. The findings are based on research conducted on behalf of the World Floor Covering Association, which commissioned Clear Seas Research (a sister company of National Floor Trends)to conduct the study. Future reports will look at such areas as “Flooring Products Purchased” and “Flooring Installation Experience.” For additional information contact wfca@wfca.org