Ron Feinbaum, HGTV svp and general manager, consumer products, with the HGTV Home – Flooring by Shaw carpet assortment. More than 3,000 show-goers were on hand at Shaw’s Unity show.

Shaw Industries’ “Unity: Connect for Success” convention, held recently in Orlando, Fla., drew 3,254 show-goers, including 810 retailers from Shaw’s Design Center, Flooring Alliance and Flooring Gallery programs.

According to Randy Merritt, Shaw president, Unity was the largest retailer event in Shaw’s history. “This is the largest retailer event we’ve ever hosted, and one of the largest events of its type in the industry,” he told attendees during the first morning’s general session.

While new products were undeniably an important part of the convention, Merritt noted that one of the most important messages for retailers was to be aware of the new, Internet-savvy consumer.

“Half of the world’s population is under 30, and if Facebook were a country, it would be the third-largest in the world,” he stated. “Social media isn’t just word of mouth, it’s world of mouth.”

Promoting the company’s Shaw Web Studio program and the newly launched, Vance Bell, Shaw ceo, noted that retailers needed to ask themselves some tough questions about younger consumers: “Are you truly prepared for the new consumer and the next generation of customers? Are you relevant to consumers under 40 years old?”

He added that business conditions are beginning to improve for retailers, while predicting a 4 to 5 percent increase in overall business this year. “It’s definitely getting better, but it’s going to be gradual,” Bell said.

Bert Butler, president of Bob’s Carpet Mart in Clearwater, Fla., said that increasing his company’s presence on the Internet is a “major part of our business plan.” “We need to be ready for the younger generation,” Butler noted.

New products

Unity 2011 featured an extensive rollout of new products from nearly 40 vendors, including additions to Shaw’s ClearTouch and Kathy Ireland Color Wall displays; new Anderson solid and Epic engineered hardwoods; a rebranding of Tuftex carpet with a new Color Coordinates display system and the tagline “Your Color. Your Lifestyle. Your Carpet”; and new laminate, resilient, area rug and ceramic products.

The company also gave a preview of its new HGTV Home – Flooring by Shaw line. The HGTV Home licensed collection, which will be available to select dealers in the spring, includes a full range of carpet, laminate, hardwood and area rugs, in five product displays (including a carpet deck binder system), with a footprint of approximately 400 sq. ft.

The carpet collection includes 28 Anso nylon styles in textures, twists, loops and velvets on a two-sided display. The hardwood display carries seven solid and nine Epic engineered products in 30 SKUs. The laminate flooring unit features seven products in 30 SKUs in a range of wood looks. The area rug display holds 20 miniature 2’ by 3’ area rugs, including 10 EverTouch and 10 ClearTouch styles.

Heather Yamada, Shaw’s creative services marketing manager, said the HGTV Home collection will be supported with national television ads, marketing materials, a “Guide to Success” for retailers planning media for their local markets, and in-store POP.

Gill Veilleux, owner of Floor Systems Inc. in Lisbon, Maine, said he would most likely sign up for the HGTV Home-branded collection, because of the resonance the brand has with younger people.

“The younger generation is learning to get into diy projects through HGTV,” he explained. “So the brand will be great for attracting that generation [of consumers].”