As part of an on-going effort to stay current on key industry issues and market trends, National Floor Trends sponsors several market studies each year. These quantitative research studies serve as the foundation for a series of informative, educational features designed to give a deeper, more insightful look at the state of the floor covering industry.
BNP Media’s Market Research Division, in conjunction with NFT, conducted this year’s market trends study in order to provide detailed information on the current state of the flooring market and future trends in the industry. Specifically, the study seeks to identify:
- The top selling product types in 2011
- The expected product growth for 2012
- Current market conditions compared to last year and future outlook
- Product attributes of priority when selecting/purchasing a specific manufacturer/brand of floor covering
- Current challenges facing the floor covering dealers/contractors
It’s no leap of the imagination to say that 2011 was a challenging year. A sluggish economy paired with increased competition and skittish consumers made the retail landscape unstable, to say the least. But it’s pricing – price increases, price-shopping consumers, discounting, raw materials becoming more expensive, etc. – that respondents cited as the single most important issue facing floor covering dealers/contractors today, and one that’s not going away any time soon. That sentiment might help explain why three times the number of respondents answered “much worse” than those who said “much better” when asked to evaluate current industry business conditions.
The perceived uptick in business does not allow any rest for the weary, however: companies looking for an edge in the market will need to continually stay abreast of the latest technologies and marketing opportunities the industry has to offer. In fact, marketing and advertising (53%), computers/software (40%) and training and education (36%) are the top three areas in their businesses that respondents say they will be increasing investment in the next 2 years.
The segments of the industry respondents say are currently generating the most business(Chart 3)are worth noting. Residential replacement makes up 59% of sales, according to the 92% of those surveyed who say they are involved in the category, while new construction in both the residential and commercial sectors makes up just 12% and 10% of sales, respectively, according to respondents involved in those areas.
Lest you’ve bought into the hype and believe everything’s been reduced to a digital land of texts, tweets and #hashtags, fear not: it’s still a hands-on world. When asked how they prefer to interact with manufacturers when specifying or purchasing floor coverings(Chart 4), respondents overwhelming (68%) cited “work with a local manufacturer’s rep/distributor” and even prefer direct contact with an in-house manufacturer employee by a 4:1 margin over going through a manufacturer’s website.
It wouldn’t be the 21st century if we didn’t take a look at environmental responsibility and the impact it has on the industry. It’s something of a mixed bag: 76% of respondents see a trend toward “environmentally responsible” flooring products and materials, yet only 26% call themselves “quite familiar” or “very familiar” with the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED rating system. Sixty-five percent, however, find manufacturer EPDs (Environmental Product Declarations) “somewhat,” “quite” or “very” valuable in making a sale.
The survey was conducted and findings were compiled by BNP Market Research, a division of BNP Media. To find out more about, contact Ulka Bhide at firstname.lastname@example.org.