FCNews exclusive: Mirage debuts state-of-the-art display

Home Inside FCNews FCNews exclusive: Mirage debuts state-of-the-art display

Oct. 7/14 2013; Volume 27/number 12

By Steven Feldman

The new Maestro Elite merchandiser offers a clean, upscale presentation of the Mirage product line.

St. Georges, Quebec, Canada—The Mirage brand of hardwood flooring has forever enjoyed the reputation of quality leadership. Now it has a totally new merchandising system that properly showcases the brand in retailers’ showrooms by conveying its quality and style.

Boa Franc, maker of the Mirage brand, believes the Maestro Elite display is the best merchandising system in the industry. “It’s the perfect blend of convenience and visual appeal,” said Luc Robitaille, vice president of marketing. “It’s ideal for showcasing the beauty of the Mirage product line and enhances showroom allure with a cleaner, upscale look that is perfectly married to our brand position.”

To highlight the quality of the Mirage brand, the display features backlit LED lighting to attract consumers. The energy-efficient lighting spotlights the Mirage logo as well as a central poster that can be easily changed for new products and promotions. “You can choose visuals that coordinate best with your store or products on hand,” Robitaille said.

The mindset behind the launch of the new merchandising system was twofold, he said. For one, Mirage’s previous system, the Maestro Trio, had been around for about 11 years. Second, there was some new technology that could be incorporated into the display that was previously unavailable, such as the LED lighting, QR codes and various programs.

The initial response to the merchandising system has been strong. According to Robitaille, nearly 300 Maestro Elite dealers have signed on since the first display was shipped in March. The goal is to hit 750 by the end of 2014.

Pat Wallett, co-owner of Wallett’s Flooring in Hummelstown, Pa., has been selling Mirage hardwood since 2003. She became a Maestro Elite dealer a few months ago and immediately reported positive results. “We have definitely seen an uptick in sales. I have one room in the store that’s just hardwood. The Maestro Elite display takes up the back wall and draws people to it. That makes it easy to sell.”

She added the merchandiser has a “commanding presence that represents the quality of the brand. I think it’s impressive, clean and well organized.”

Wide-width, engineered products in the Imagine collection are among Mirage’s higher-end offerings.

Distributors with whom FCNews spoke favorably compared the Maestro Elite display to its predecessor. For example, Dave While, sales and marketing manager for Tri-West in California, called the unit an “upgrade”, citing the fact that it is more organized and holds more samples. “It’s an easier display for retailers.”

White has already witnessed a strong reception for the display. He initially thought retailers would have preferred to retrofit their old displays with new samples, but that has not been the case. “About 60 to 70% of existing displays are being replaced. Retailers like the new display, want it in their showrooms and are willing to make the investment.”

Retailers will pay less than $1,500 for the hardware after manufacturer and distributor subsidies. “One good order will pay for the display, so we believe it is a worthwhile investment for the retailer,” White said. “Tri-West is providing terms that make it easy on the retailer’s budget.”

Wallett confirmed her distributor absorbed a good portion of the cost for the updated display. “I thought it was quite affordable, actually less than what I was anticipating. We always have to keep things fresh.”

With the purchase of the display comes some important benefits, such as the Close the Loop program—a tool Boa Franc created that allows the consumer “to be linked to the dealer.” The idea is that Mirage’s advertising attracts consumers to its website, which includes a dealer locator. Maestro Elite dealers are highlighted through this feature and are afforded a personalized page once the consumer clicks through for more information. Here, that consumer can request a brochure, provide contact information, make an appointment in-store, and solicit information on special offers by email. “The idea is to send consumers directly to our better dealers,” Robitaille said. Dealers can also create their own online promotions via their personalized page.

Maestro Elite dealers will also have their appropriate statistics emailed to them every month showing the number of times their respective stores came up on the dealer locator for that particular month, the number of times consumers visited, etc.

Nuts and bolts

The merchandising system consists of four modules that have a combined measure around 14 feet wide, 20 inches deep. It houses 78 15 x 17-inch samples plus eight super-sized samples—5½ x 7¾ feet—that vary based on regional preferences. Each of Mirage’s 11 distributors chose the respective large samples for particular markets.

Specifically, two Exploration modules, each holding 30 sample boards, include a poster, 3D logo and LED lighting. An information module holds 18 samples and the Exhibition module contains the extra large boards. Behind those boards are “silent salesperson posters” that explain product features (width, thickness, platforms, installation options, finish, etc.) as well as information on how to recognize a quality hardwood floor.

For those who cannot accommodate the full package, the abbreviated Maestro program consists of two Exploration modules or one information module for a smaller footprint. “Elite will be beneficial to around 10% of our customers the larger retailers,” White said. “Ninety percent will go with the Maestro display.”

Products shown on the display represent six Mirage collections in a variety of platforms:

•Imagine (solid and engineered with textured visuals)

•Sweet Memories (solid and engineered with rustic and character visuals)

•Alive (solid and engineered with lightly brushed looks)

•Admiration (solid, engineered and locking in 21 stains)

•Naturals (solid, engineered and locking, no stains)

•Exotics (solid, engineered and locking)

Robitaille explained the 78 products on the display show a representative cross section “of what we can do.” Most of the products shown are available in multiple widths and technologies. Suggested retail price points range from about $5.49 for a solid, narrow-width product in the Naturals collection to about $14.99 for an engineered, wide-width product in the Imagine or Sweet Memories lines.

Other features of the display include:

•QR codes on the back of samples that take consumers directly to the respective product where they can find full product details, such as available widths, species, colors, SKU numbers, etc. “What’s different about scanning the QR code is it takes you to a specific product page, not to our website,” Robitaille said. “It shows you the specific product at which you are looking. It’s a great tool for the consumer as well as the salesperson because the information is always up-to-date.”

•Room scene photography on the back of samples

•Storage drawers at the bottom of the modules to hold samples

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