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

Former Starnet Chairman Wins Mayoral Election   Full Article
Point Pleasant, NJ, Nov. 7, 2014 -- Former Starnet chairman Bob Sabosik won his bid for mayor in Tuesday's elections in Point Pleasant.

Mohawk CEO Lorberbaum Discusses Firm's Growth   Full Article
Chattanooga, TN, Nov. 7, 2014 -- Mohawk Industries CEO Jeff Lorberbaum told the Chattanooga Rotary Club that his firm is investing $500 million in its existing businesses in a bet on an improving economy.

Economy Adds 214K Jobs, Unemployment Falls   Full Article
Washington, DC, Nov. 7, 2014 -- Employers added 214,000 jobs in October and the unemployment rate fell again, the Labor Department said.

Attendance at Cersaie Rises This Year   Full Article
Bologna, Italy, Nov. 7, 2014 -- Attendance at Cersaie 2014, the international exhibition of ceramic tile and bathroom furnishings held in Bologna in September, once again topped 100,000 visits, according to organizers.

Builders More Confident in Senior Housing Market   Full Article
Washington, DC, Nov. 7, 2014 -- Builder confidence in the 55+ housing market was up again in the third quarter, according to the latest release of NAHB’s 55+ Housing Market Index.

Housing Markets Improving at a Gradual Pace   Full Article
Washington, DC, Nov. 6, 2014 -- Markets in 59 of the approximately 350 metro areas nationwide returned to or exceeded their last normal levels of economic and housing activity in the third quarter.

Planned Job Cuts Surge in October   Full Article
Chicago, IL, Nov. 6, 2014 -- Planned job cuts jumped 68% in October to the second-highest total this year, according to outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

Initial Jobless Claims Fall Again   Full Article
Washington, DC, Nov. 6, 2014 -- Initial claims for unemployment benefits fell by 10,000 to 278,000 in the week ended Nov. 1, the Labor Department said

Grosser Named Tile Person of Year   Full Article
San Antonio, TX, Nov. 6, 2014 -- Tile Council of North America presented its Tile Person of the Year award to Donato Grosser at the Total Solutions Plus event.

NWFA Renews Agreement With Wildlife Fund   Full Article
St. Louis, MO, Nov. 6, 2014 -- The National Wood Flooring Association said it has renewed its Memorandum of Understanding with the World Wildlife Fund.

Tarkett Hosts Second Sustainability Summit   Full Article
Chagrin Falls, OH, Nov. 6, 2014 -- Tarkett recently hosted its second annual Sustainability Summit in Cleveland, Ohio.

Gerflor Acquires Connor Sport Court   Full Article
Chicago, IL, Nov. 5, 2014 -- Gerflor said it has acquired Connor Sport Court of Amasa, Michigan.

Armstrong Illinois Plant Wins Sustainability Award   Full Article
Lancaster, PA, Nov. 5, 2014 -- Armstrong Flooring said its Kankakee, Illinois manufacturing facility has received the 2014 Illinois Governor’s Sustainability Award.

Services Sector Continues To Grow in October   Full Article
Washington, DC, Nov. 5, 2014 -- The services sector of the economy continued to expand in October but at a slower pace, according to the Institute for Supply Management.

Mortgage Applications Fall Last Week   Full Article
Washington, DC, Nov. 5, 2014 -- Mortgage application volume fell last week as interest rates increased, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Businesses Add 230,000 Jobs in October   Full Article
Roseland, NJ, Nov. 5, 2014 -- Private employers added 230,000 jobs in October, payroll processor ADP said.

Earthwerks Names Head of Product Development   Full Article
Houston, TX, Nov. 5, 2014 -- Earthwerks has named Lindsey Nisbet head of product development and marketing strategy.

Linron Names de Beaumont VP Business Development   Full Article
Houston, TX, Nov. 5, 2014 -- Linron Co. has named Gilles de Beaumont, vice president of business development.

Domotex Asia Anticipates Larger Wood, Laminate Area   Full Article
Shanghai, China, Nov. 4, 2014 -- It will require four dedicated halls to house just the wood and laminate exhibitions at Domotex asia/Chinafloor’s 17th annual flooring show March 24-26 in Shanghai, organizers said.

Factory Orders Decline in September   Full Article
Washington, DC, Nov. 4, 2014 -- New orders for manufactured goods fell for second straight month in September on softness in the aircraft sector.