Patricia Flavin is Senior Vice-President of Marketing for Beaulieu of America. She can be reached at

You know Mr. and Mrs. Jones, don’t you? They always have the nicest car, the latest flat screen TV, the gorgeous granite counter tops, and, of course, the most beautiful floors. Mrs. Jones takes enormous pride in her home and keeps up with the latest design trends. Mr. Jones keeps an eye on the checkbook. And they both keep us all employed. That’s because the Joneses are the true economic drivers of our economy – not some big government bailout or some Washington big shot. To us, they’re the boss. And right now, they’re not too happy.

It’s not us (the floor covering industry, per se) that they’re unhappy with. It’s the economic news and, in personal terms, the financial hits that they themselves have taken. Lack of consumer confidence translates into lack-luster sales, pure and simple.

When we conceived of Bliss by Beaulieu carpet two years ago, we based the concept on the idea that she (the consumer) is the boss – not us (the manufacturer). Every detail was researched from her point-of-view and need, from the design of the carpets to the design displays themselves. As dealers across the country began showcasing Bliss this year, the feedback (and sales) from consumers has been a resounding “yes” to our hard work and marketing instincts.

Now we at Beaulieu, along with all of you, are in the economic thick of it. The valuable lesson that we learned from our success with Bliss is something very basic, something that frankly some have forgotten along the way. And that is the importance of the consumer. We can’t control the stock market. We can’t control the deficit. But we can control how we treat our customers and we do that by putting their needs first.

The challenge, of course, is how well we can do that when things are tight. One thing that we will not do is to disappear, which is the tendency of some when things get tough. We view our advertising and other marketing communications as an invaluable connection with our customer. We will also not shelve R&D or environmental initiatives because our future as a company and brand depend on remaining steadfast in these areas.

“Keeping up with the Joneses” may not be the consumer obsession it has been, but catering to their needs as floor covering manufacturers and retailers has never been more important.--Patricia Flavin