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

Atllanta Home Sales, Prices Dip in July   Full Article
Atlanta, GA, Aug. 18, 2014 -- Home sales and prices in the Atlanta Metro area fell slightly from June, the Atlanta Board of Realtors saiid Monday.

Multilayer Association Gets Three New Members   Full Article
Bielefeld, Germany, Aug. 18, 2014 -- The Multilayer Modular Flooring Association said it has three new members.

Bamboo Hardwoods Signs Midwest Distributor   Full Article
Seattle, WA, Aug. 18, 2014 -- Bamboo Hardwoods said it has entered into a distribution agreement with Bishop Distributing.

Builder Confidence at Seven-Month High   Full Article
Washington, DC, Aug. 18, 2014 -- Homebuilder confidence rose in August to the highest level in seven months, according to the National Association of Home Builders.

New York Manufacturing Improves at Slower Pace   Full Article
New York, NY, Aug. 15, 2014 -- The Empire State manufacturing survey fell back to 14.7 in August after hitting a four-year high of 25.6 in July.

Consumer Sentiment Falls in Early August   Full Article
Washington, DC, Aug. 15, 2014 -- The preliminary August reading on the University of Michigan/Thomson Reuters consumer-sentiment index fell to 79.2 from a final July result of 81.8.

Investors Wondering About Firm's Stake in Armstrong   Full Article
New York, NY, Aug. 15, 2014 -- Flooring industry analyst Stifel Nicolaus says talk is heating among its clients up that Armstrong World Industries could be broken into separate entities.

Office Environments Acquires Flooring Firm   Full Article
Charlotte, NC, Aug. 15, 2014 -- Office Environments, a Charlotte based commercial furniture dealer, said it has acquired Modular Designs, a flooring firm also based in Charlotte.

FCICA Continuing Diamond Member Club   Full Article
West Bloomfield, MI, Aug. 15, 2014 -- FCICA, the Flooring Contractors Association, said it will continue its Diamond Club member program for the 2014-2015 membership year.

Housing Affordability Declines in Second Quarter   Full Article
Washington, DC, Aug. 15, 2014 -- Nationwide housing affordability dipped in the second quarter as several markets saw a firming of home prices, according to the National Association of Home Builders.

Georgia Unemployment Grows but Dalton Layoffs Fall   Full Article
Atlanta, GA, Aug. 14, 2014 -- Unemployment in Georgia in July rose to the highest rate since last October, according to the Georgia Department of Labor.

Initial Jobless Claims Rise Last Week   Full Article
Washington, DC, Aug. 14, 2014 -- Initial claims for unemployment benefits rose 21,000 to 311,000 in the week the ended Aug. 9, according to the Labor Department.

Higher Downpayments Hitting First-Time Home Buyers   Full Article
New York, NY, Aug. 14, 2014 -- Growing requirements for downpayments are shutting many first time buyers out of the housing market, Bloomberg News reports.

Tarkett Contest Features Commercial Flooring   Full Article
Chagrin Falls, OH, Aug. 14, 2014 -- Tarkett has launched a WeLikeItNatural Creative Contest featuring its commercial vinyl flooring.

Retail Sales Flat in July   Full Article
Retail Sales were flat in July as car demand slowed and consumers remained cautious in their spending. This is the weakest performance in six months.

Mortgage Application Volume Down Last Week   Full Article
New York, NY, Aug. 13, 2014 -- Mortgage application volume fell last week as both purchase and refinancing applications declined, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Valinge Awarded Another U.S. Patent   Full Article
Viken, Sweden, Aug. 13, 2014 -- Valinge said it has been awarded a U.S. patents regarding mechanical locking of LVT/resilient floorboards.

Another Investment Firm Discloses Armstrong Position   Full Article
New York, NY, Aug. 13, 2014 -- Another investment firm has disclosed a large position in the shares of Armstrong World Industries.

Home Price Increases Continue To Moderate   Full Article
Washington, DC, Aug. 12, 2014 -- Home-price growth continued to moderate in many metropolitan areas in the second quarter, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Domotex Turkey 2015 Set for May   Full Article
Hannover, Germany, Aug. 12, 2014 -- The dates for Domotex Turkey 2015 are May 25-28 at the Turkish carpet trading capital, Gaziantep.