February 13/20, 2017: Volume 31, Number 18
By Ken Ryan
Phoenix—Contrary to marketing hype, millennials are not the quintessential flooring customer today. Not yet at least. In 10 years, statistics show, this demographic group will be making the key decisions and influencing the market in ways that old-school retailers may not be comfortable with.
In an effort to convert old-school thinkers, Carpet One Floor & Home focused its winter convention on the future, which according to group president Eric Demaree, “requires a new mindset and an understanding of how to attract, engage with and convert today’s ever-changing consumer into a lifelong loyal customer.”
Future Focus, as the convention was themed, put digital marketing and social media front and center for the nearly 1,000 Carpet One Floor & Home members attending. Focus on the future requires investing in areas that are growing, such as digital marketing. Gary Redmond, digital director of marketing for Carpet One Floor & Home, convened a panel on the subject with member retailers Guy Pylypiw, Oshawa Carpet One Floor & Home, Oshawa, Ontario, Canada; Zack Allen, Buddy Allen Carpet One Floor & Home, Nashville, Tenn; and Kevin Frazier, Frazier’s Carpet One Floor & Home, Knoxville, Tenn.
These retail leaders have already embraced the digital world and encouraged their brethren to follow suit. Allen implored members to stop delaying the inevitable. “It is the future. It is where people are going to shop. Jump in there, do it and give it some time.”
Frazier, who still spends 85% of his advertising budget on traditional mediums (i.e., radio, TV), told members they have to first invest in this space before they see a return. “At the same time we are not just marketing for the sake of marketing—we are looking for measurables.” Frazier told the audience that four days before he conducted a large private sale at his store, he did a “digital drop” to spread the word through all online platforms. He said he got six requests for pre-measures that led to closings at the private sale. “This was a perfect snapshot of what can be accomplished. [Digital] is a great way to amplify and accelerate your traditional marketing.”
Virtually every Carpet One Floor & Home dealer understands the importance of digital marketing. How to effectively use social media, however, is still an area of exploration for many dealers.
Terri Daniels, vice president of corporate communications, hosted a panel discussion on the most effective ways to use social media. Michelle Pylypiw, Oshawa Carpet One; Andrew Wiebe, Carpet One Floor & Home, Red Deer, Alberta, Canada; and Bonnie Fenwick, Carpet N’ Drapes, Carpet One Floor & Home, Jacksonville, Fla., conveyed this message to members: You don’t have to be on every social media platform; just choose what works best in your market.
Wiebe suggested members start with Facebook, which he called a “dream market platform.” He discussed how his installer used a camera to film a time-lapse installation of a two-story fireplace. “The response from that video was incredible. We had customers coming into the store saying, ‘I want that fireplace.’”
Carpet One is looking at the future internally as well as externally. Its NEX<40 Generational Leadership Program was established as a way to engage the next generation of Carpet One shareholders. “The group has two major focus areas at this time,” said Palmer Johnson, director of merchandising and general counsel, Carpet One Floor & Home, Tulsa, Okla. “We want to help younger/next generation business owners within the co-op access the tools they need to be successful. We are also placing some focus on influencing the direction Carpet One takes with its online presence. Specifically, the mix of products shown online, brand identity and how that translates to a customer’s in-store experience.”
Lauren Allwein-Andrews, manager at Allwein Carpet One Floor & Home, Annville, Pa., said second- and third-generation owners such as herself never had the opportunity to meet people her own age at these gatherings until now. “Of the 85% of Carpet One membership who attended the convention, nearly 20% are under 40. Those numbers will continue to grow, and now is the time to get this group engaged so we can steer the co-op in the direction we want and need it to go for the future.
“We know millennial buyers—our fellow consumers—are the future, and the best way to reach them is through digital advertising and social media. Traditional forms of advertising are a thing of the past, and one’s money is better spent online.”