These features include educational insights, new and staple hardwood products and a spotlight featuring one of the Coalition’s members. A new edition of RWC coverage will be available in every print issue of FCNews throughout the year.
DID YOU KNOW
Creative branding strategies go a long way fueling the consumer’s desire for hardwood
Hardwood flooring suppliers and specialty wood distributors are tapping into their creative juices to get consumers excited about hardwood flooring. Beyond making performance enhancements designed to improve hardwood flooring’s performance in the home, suppliers and distributors are employing various branding and marketing initiatives. The goal, they say, is to get retailers and end users excited about selling hardwood—a premium product category with a host of tangible benefits.
One recent example of this creativity at work is the marketing program that Southern Diversified Distributors—the parent company of top 20 distributor William M. Bird—put in place to promote both its supplier-branded hardwood flooring offerings as well as its private-label lines. (These include Somerset, Raintree and Palmetto Road.) In the old days, the task of consumer marketing in the flooring business has largely been placed on the manufacturer. However, Southern Diversified Distributors has been employing an alternative method to reach and influence the consumer in her flooring purchasing decision by leveraging (wait for it) its Twenty & Oak platform. Twenty & Oak is a consumer-facing website that features a virtual showroom to reach consumers in the market for floor coverings. But instead of selling direct to the consumer, any leads generated are forwarded along to the appropriate retail partner for follow up.
Other suppliers are utilizing star power to target consumers who might soon be in the market for hardwood flooring. Such is the case with AHF Products, which successfully collaborated on a co-branding initiative involving Mark Bowe, host of the cable TV show “Barnwood Builders. Bowe, a skilled craftsman, historian and the founder of Antique Cabins and Barns, based in Beverly, W. Va., teamed up to introduce the Barnwood Living Collection—a line of American-made wood floors that conveys the authentic look of a reclaimed, time-worn floor.
“This collection brings this authentic look to the mass market, allowing consumers to capitalize on this look with the quality they have come to expect from the Bruce brand,” said Wendy Booker, vice president, marketing and product development, AHF Products.
Key factors in product selection
When it comes to helping the consumer choose the wood floor of her dreams, there are several factors to consider that go beyond color and style. For example, it’s critical that RSAs ask the consumer where will the new floor be installed in her home. This will eliminate some options right off the bat. Engineered wood flooring is ideal for basements, while both solid and engineered wood floors may be installed in any room that is on or above ground. Solid wood flooring is made of one piece of wood from top to bottom, while engineered wood flooring is made using multiple layers including a top layer of high-quality wood. This construction makes the floor less susceptible to expansion and contraction based on seasonal temperature fluctuations or humidity levels within the home.
Once the proper construction is chosen for a particular application, the RSA can help the consumer decide on a particular which style. Options include: strip, plank, parquet or even end grain. Much depends on the consumer’s personal style and taste and the overall look or theme she wants to convey.
Color tone also factors in heavily during the selection process. Most factory-milled and finished floors come with the stain already applied, but some customers may opt for unfinished flooring, which can then be colored on site. Finish tones the natural color of the wood up or down, making lighter or darker versions of the wood. Typically, light tones make a room look more open and airy, while medium tones make the room feel warm and cozy. Dark tones can make a room appear stately and refined.
Last, but certainly not least, is the choice of finish material and gloss level. Again, these attributes are typically predetermined with products finished at the factory level but they impact the final visual of the product nonetheless.
TRIED AND TRUE
Parkmore is specially crafted to create a comfortable, high-end look for any home. With its rustic white oak and wire brushed patina, it’s soft enough to warm up any space yet unique enough to stand out. Its low-gloss finish and 3⁄8-inch x 6 1⁄2-inch wide construction conveys a coastal feel that can easily transition into a modern farmhouse style as well.
NEW AND NOTABLE
Maui from Mirage
The DreamVille collection from Mirage has been expanded with the addition of Oak Maui Character Brushed. The new color sports a clean, smooth look with hints of knots and light graining. Mirage’s signature DuraMatt X low-gloss finish provides proven protection while allowing the character of the wood to come through.
AHF Products’ tmbr brand targets influential millennial buyers
AHF Products continues to expand its portfolio to meet the demands of today’s hardwood buyers with tmbr, a new brand designed for a generation that values aesthetics, performance and social responsibility.
According to Kevin Whaley, vice president, sales, product and marketing, authenticity is vitally important to this influential generation. That bodes well for natural materials like hardwood—especially wood that’s harvested responsibly.
The first collection to roll out is Big Sur. Inspired by the region’s Pacific Coast and picturesque blend of lush, rugged coastline, the combination of textures and colors in a low gloss finish provides an inspiring design palette. This engineered hardwood collection comprises white oak and hickory in dramatic 7 1⁄2-inch-wide planks and 10 colors.
“The concept of bringing the outdoors in has gained footing among the design community as well as millennials as the demand for a home in tune with nature has increased,” Whaley explained. “Using hardwood flooring in a room is an easy way to bring nature inside, and to create a home experience that is truly inspiring.”