Advertising & Branding - July 2013

Advertising & Branding From July 2013

By Santo Torcivia

 

Upon examining the most recent figures from Kantar Media on consumer advertising, I am struck by how quickly the investment in brand equity among producer flooring brands has fallen. Each year over the last five years, the total amount spent in support of flooring brands by producers has declined to the point where spending in 2012 was 20% of what it was in 2008. This does not bode well for manufacturers and their efforts to gain a stronger position in the product channels, considering that the same trend is not true for consumer advertising spending by major retailers. 



It cannot be said strongly enough that, in the product channels, brand equity—that is, the communication of a brand’s image, perception and benefits to the trade and consumers—is as important as product development, product quality and price. In fact, brand equity is why an automobile company like Toyota or Honda can get a higher price (and higher sales volumes) for its products, which are perceived to have higher quality and better values than its competitors. But producers sometimes think it a simple matter to cheat their brand equity and “save” these funds to freshen-up the bottom line. They do not realize that cheating brand equity today undermines margins down the road. This sort of shortsightedness breeds long-term margin struggles and sales declines. There are plenty of examples. Just consider Stainmaster fiber by DuPont, which held a vaunted position in the late 1980s. Stainmaster cheated on its brand equity before making some other crucial marketing errors, was sold by DuPont, and is now is trying to resurrect itself. It is difficult to regain esteem once a brand has slipped from the consumer’s mind. 



Fortunately, flooring retailers across the U.S. do not suffer the shortsightedness of flooring producers. Empire Today has reportedly spent half a billion dollars over the last five years on consumer advertising, increasing its expenditure each year. Lumber Liquidators spent over $100 million in consumer advertising over the same period, also increasing its expenditure each year. Additionally, Lumber Liquidators has spent over $7 million in consumer advertising since 2008 in support of its Bellawood wood flooring brand. Overall, retailers have expended $849 million in consumer advertising over the last five years versus $297 million by flooring and carpet fiber producers. These figures include an estimated spending by the top three home centers (Home Depot, Lowe’s and Menards) of $140 million combined over the last five years, just for flooring.



Let me leave you with this thought. All the major retailers have store brands. Some, like Bellawood, Trafficmaster and SwiftLock, have varying degrees of equity. Flooring producers are reducing their advertising (communications with consumers) at a time when retailers are not following suit, diminishing flooring producers’ brand equity and pushing themselves evermore closely to commodity status. What will happen to product margins for producers? What other expenditures will producers be forced to cut when margins fall—product development, research and development, or something else? What will this then lead to?

It is not too late for flooring producers to assess their market positions and redeem their brand positions and, therefore, their margins. The question is whether flooring producers can see behind the next quarter’s income statement and invest in the future. Where would you put your long-term bet?

Copyright 2013 Floor Focus 



Other Archived Articles

Wholesale Prices Flat in August   Full Article
Washington, DC, Sept. 16, 2014 -- Wholesale prices in August were flat due to declining gasoline and food costs, according to the Labor Department.

Demand for LEED Credentials Rising, Study Shows   Full Article
Washington, DC, Sept. 16, 2014 -- The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) said a study of job postings reveals that demand for the LEED Accredited Professional (LEED AP) and LEED Green Associate credentials grew 46% over a year.

WFCA Seeking Hall of Fame Nominations   Full Article
Anaheim, CA, Sept. 16, 2014 -- The World Floor Covering Association is accepting applications for nominations to the Floor Covering Industry Hall of Fame.

CBC Flooring Signs Southwest Distributor   Full Article
Commack, NY, Sept. 16, 2014 -- CBC Flooring has formed a distribution agreement with Sustainable Surfaces to handle its products in Southern California and Las Vegas.

Five Trade Shows Form Design & Construction Week   Full Article
Las Vegas, NV, Sept. 16, 2014 -- Five of the leading design and construction industry tradeshows have signed on to be part of the 2015 Design & Construction Week to create what is likely to be the largest-ever residential construction exposition.

Scott Group Acquires Hokanson Carpets   Full Article
Grand Rapids, MI, Sept. 15, 2014 -- Michigan-based Scott Group Custom Carpets said it has acquired Texas-based Hokanson Carpets.

New York Manufacturing Improves at Faster Rate   Full Article
New York, NY, Sept. 15, 2014 -- Manufacturing conditions in the New York area improved at the fastest rate since October 2009 in September, according to the New York Fed.

Inmates Learn Concrete Polishing in Jail   Full Article
Madisonville, KY, Sept. 15, 2014 -- Hopkins County Jail was looking for a solution to replace tiles throughout the facility when head jailer Joe Blue decided polished concrete was a viable option.

Housing Not Adequate for Wave of Boomers   Full Article
Cambridge, MA, Sept. 15, 2014 -- America’s older population is in the midst of unprecedented growth, but the country is not prepared to meet the housing needs of this aging group, concludes a new Harvard report.

Domotex Asia Set for March 24-26   Full Article
Shanghai, China, Sept. 12, 2014 -- Domotex Asia/Chinafloor will be held March 24-26 in Shanghai.

Retail Sales Increase Broadly in August   Full Article
Washington, DC, Sept. 12, 2014 -- U.S. retail sales rose 0.6% in August, as consumer bought automobiles and a variety of other goods, according to the Commerce Department.

Consumer Sentiment Highest in More Than a Year   Full Article
Ann Arbor, MI, Sept. 12, 2014 -- U.S. consumer sentiment rose in September to its highest level in more than a year, according to the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan index.

Greenberg Fund Awards Two Scholarships   Full Article
Manchester, NH, Sept. 12, 2014 -- CCA Global Partners has announced the recipients of two $5,000 scholarships through the Alan Greenberg Scholarship Fund.

Dover Rug & Home Opens Boston Showroom   Full Article
Boston, MA, Sept. 12, 2014 -- Dover Rug & Home has opened a second location in Boston in the Back Bay.

Armstrong Headquarters Gets LEED Recertification   Full Article
Lancaster, PA, Sept. 11, 2014 -- Armstrong World Industries said its corporate headquarters building has been awarded LEED Platinum recertification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

Shaw Contract Names Winners of Design Contest   Full Article
Cartersville, GA, Sept. 11, 2014 -- Shaw Contract Group announced the winners of its annual Design is… competition.

Initial Unemployment Claims Rise Last week   Full Article
Washington, DC, Sept. 11, 2014 -- Initial claims for unemployment benefits rose to 315,000 last week, up from the previous week's revised total of 304,000, according to the Labor Department.

Dal-Tile Holding Groundbreaking for Tennessee Plant   Full Article
Dickson, TN, Sept. 11, 2014 -- Dal-Tile is scheduled to hold an invitation-only groundbreaking ceremony this afternoon for its new $180 million plant in Dickson County, according to the Tennessean newspaper.

Foreclosures Edge Higher in August   Full Article
Irvine, CA, Sept. 11, 2014 -- Foreclosures rose in August the first time in nearly four years, according to tracking firm RealtyTrac.

CFI Presents Awards at Annual Meeting   Full Article
Kansas City, MO, Sept. 11, 2014 -- The Certified Floorcovering Installers recently presented awards at its annual convention.