February 16/23, 2015; Volume 28/Number 17
By K.J. Quinn
Generation X is a sometimes forgotten—yet important—target market because members of the age group are either in or reaching their peak earning and spending years. The younger segment of this demographic is married with children and buying houses, while the older members have more disposable income; both stages generally involve major purchases. Karastan heard the call from Gen X and is answering it with styles positioned to inspire and delight this group of flooring shoppers.
“Many of the latest introductions have been developed and designed with a slightly younger consumer in mind,” said Bill Storey, Karastan’s senior vice president. “Karastan has tremendous brand recognition and appeal with consumers in the 50-plus age demographic. Our new patterns and colors have a more transitional feel, which will attract consumers in their 30s and 40s.”
While Gen X may have faded into the background in terms of media coverage since the days when they were considered “hip” and “edgy,” this demographic encompasses some 65 million Americans and is larger than both the baby boomers and millennials, according to published reports. The Karastan brand—boasting a rich history of craftsmanship—is positioned to enable dealers to provide these luxury shoppers with the product selection they demand. “Since 1928, Karastan has been recognized as a leader in fashion and quality,” Storey said. “We are not moving away from our heritage. We are taking it to a new level with a broader range of styles that appeal to our consumers whose style may lean more toward contemporary.”
To that end, in 2015 Karastan is introducing a plethora of new patterns and visuals, in addition to clean and crisp finishes. Many of the new carpets feature colors and textures that take their cue from home fashion, with an emphasis on neutral tones found in granite and marble, and tonal palettes that continue to grow in popularity. Among the eight new styles added to Karastan’s soft Kashmere premium nylon carpet line are Fashion Conscience, a geometric pattern that comes in a natural palette of 20 creamy colors; Elegantly Soft, a classic plush style in 32 nature-inspired colors; and Calming Influence, a tailored finish in 12 tonal colorations also inspired by elements of nature.
Meanwhile, Karastan is refreshing its classic wool carpet offering with fresh, updated looks, such as Maiden Lane, a Karaloc woven carpet featuring 10 colors; Aster Row, a Karaloc woven tip-shear available in 10 shades; and Woolcraft Nouveau, an all-loop broadloom carpet which comes in six hues.
The new styles have received the thumbs-up from retailers. Jim Matthews, owner, Carpet Corner, Kansas City, Mo., attested to the updated offerings’ younger appeal. “I believe the new products, especially the LTL patterns and prints, will help attract some younger customers, particularly those interested in decorating with newer styles and looks.”
What is it about these products that Karastan believes will appeal to targeted consumers? For starters, the majority of Karastan’s new introductions have some form of pattern and/or multicolor design incorporated in them—two effects which are among the most popular in carpet styles. “Many consumers with hard surfaces in the majority of their home designs are willing to try more adventurous designs and colors in those areas of the home where they install carpet,” Storey said.
Performance was cited by retailers as an additional “it” factor regarding the new Karastan SmartStrand soft styles featuring DuPont Sorona and Forever Clean, the latter of which is said to be the only carpet with permanent built-in stain and soil protection that won’t wear or wash off. “When you can take the worries about spilling, tracking and soiling away from the consumer, I think that will give her peace of mind and help out with her selection,” Matthews said.
Soft carpet fiber continues to gain market share, and recent surveys show that soft is now one of the top five drivers in consumer decision-making for carpet. This year Karastan will introduce the first tonal carpets in the SmartStrand Silk line.
Karastan is supporting the launch with a new merchandising vehicle called the Karastan Studio. “The focus is less on display and more on the product,” Storey said. The Karastan Studio unit includes a lighting package and a merchandising table to better present styles and colors. The unit’s sleek design makes it easy for consumers to shop as it holds up to 40 styles and is organized by best sellers, multiple colors, patterns, loops and wool styles.