Jan. 6/13, 2020: Volume 35, Issue 14
By Reginald Tucker
Lancaster, Pa.—When Armstrong took the wraps off its signature Diamond 10 surface coating technology on its commercial LVT offerings back in 2015, the company believed it had a winner that would set it apart in a sea of sameness in the LVT category. But who knew at that time that it would evolve into a game-changing technology that has since expanded across other plat- forms and end-use sectors in the company’s ever-expanding resilient offering.
“Diamond 10 technology provides enhanced durability that will make your floors look like the day you took them out of the box longer than other floors as it relates to scratch, scuff and stain resistance,” said Brent Flaharty, senior vice president and chief customer experience officer at Armstrong Flooring. “We launched the first Diamond 10 product on LVT, and it has since been expanded from there across a broad portfolio of products both domestically manufactured and sourced.”
The timing for the expansion is key given the proliferation of high-performance resilient products in the marketplace and the competitive jockeying that goes along with it. “Diamond 10 is still relevant today—perhaps even more so—as there are so many options in the LVT category right now,” Flaharty stated. “Having a tried-and-true, proven coating technology that you can stand behind day in and day out is critical. We have millions of square feet of products with Diamond 10 installed, and we know the proof is in the pudding.”
Along with that impressive performance track record built over time, Diamond 10 has also bolstered its brand equity—at least in the minds of retailers and specifiers who in turn recommend the product for their customers and clients.
“The ‘a-ha’ moment happens when customers see the hands-on demos that showcase the product’s capabilities,” Flaharty explained. “Diamond 10 has become something people are asking for.”
That being said, Armstrong is not resting on its laurels. The company said there’s still a lot of room to grow the brand. A key part of that strategy entails extending the technology to other products in the Armstrong portfolio—something that began long before the company divested its wood and laminate flooring divisions.
“We have extended the Diamond 10 technology platform out across the majority of our products now,” Flaharty stated. “This includes VCT, PVC-free BBT, engineered tile and vinyl sheet. And we are now working to put it on rigid LVT. So that’s really the next turn of the wheel, to get it out in the rigid core category because it has penetrated the majority of our product portfolio in some form or fashion over the course of the last few years. With rigid LVT representing the fastest growth category, that’s the next step for us. We are going to continue to innovate the flooring industry as we move forward with more vigor than we have shown thus far.”
Another key goal entails building awareness of Diamond 10’s capabilities on the residential side of the business that equals its notoriety in the commercial market. This means continuing to drive home the story behind the technology to consumers in the market for flooring.
“There is a litany of companies out in the market that make claims about their products each and every day,” Flaharty stated. “Armstrong has been around for 100-plus years. We have extremely strong product warranties. We have rigorous testing that goes on continuously with all of our product structures to make sure we’re able to deliver on the promise we make from a performance perspective. When we tell our story, it helps get the product in the hands of the decision maker.”
Armstrong retail partners attest to the impact the technology has had on sales. “I have been very impressed with Armstrong’s Diamond 10 finish,” said Terri Blessing, president and owner of Carpet Depot & More, Bushnell, Fla. She cited Arbor Art from Natural Creations and Vivero in particular. “The products do not dent or scratch easily. Diamond 10 has increased our sales exponentially over the past few years.”
Spreading the word
Armstrong will be looking to generate even greater aware- ness by launching digital campaigns targeting popular social media platforms while utilizing its own website—as well as those of its partners—to better educate consumers on flooring. “We want to make sure we are present there,” Flaharty explained. “We have some standard tools retailers can engage with as well as some disruptive, fun tools that help us stand out above the rest. We spend a lot of time making sure we are educating our distributor partners and the retailers who engage our products along with the builders and multi-family owners to make sure they understand the product. So it is really a 360-degree approach.”
Beyond employing the aforementioned real-world product demonstrations that retailers can show potential consumers, Armstrong also provides training elements supplemented with displays and other point-of-purchase materials for dealers. “Flooring is an aspiration purchase; there is obviously a design element to it,” Flaharty explained. “But in addition to that, customers realize flooring is one of the bigger investments they will make in their home over a lifetime. That is why they need a product that can stand up to the rigors, foot traffic and the wear and tear that takes place in the home.”
To help facilitate this, Armstrong has developed short videos that show the kind of extreme examples of wear and tear on the floor. For example, actors are shown how easy it is to remove ink stains from floors featuring Diamond 10 simply by using an alcohol wipe.
“We are trying to do some things that are a little bit different than just putting it in words,” Flaharty explained. “Anytime you can engage them and get their hands on it—that really makes the difference.”
More importantly, Armstrong is looking to remind dealers that floors featuring Diamond 10 can help them earn higher profit margins. “We’re not going to be the cheapest solution in the store, but we believe there’s a value to having the best product available,” Flaharty said. “So retail associates can feel confident when they present a Diamond 10 solution to a homeowner that the product is going to be able to stand up to wear and tear because it’s a proven entity. Second, we have a strong warranty behind it. That makes it worry free for their retail associate.”
Another key selling point: Diamond 10 is only available to the specialty retail channel, providing yet another competitive advantage. “We launched Diamond 10 with specialty retail, and it has remained in specialty retail,” Flaharty stated. “We believe this is also an advantage because it represents an aided sale for the RSA. The big box home centers have created their own brands and messaging around their promise to the consumer. Having Diamond 10 technology within the specialty retail space allows us to get that message out to the consumer.”
All this is good news for Armstrong’s retail partners like Debbie Jones, owner of North Conway, N.H.-based J&J Floor Covering, which stocks Armstrong Vivero and Duality—both of which feature Diamond 10. “We find it performs very well in our store,” she told FCNews. “We have no issues, complaints or claims with it.”