Consumer Research: Flooring consumers share their experiences - Oct 16

By Jessica Chevalier

A view inside the consumer’s mind is an invaluable tool for any industry, and that is what you will find here: a study of six consumers’ processes and reflections concerning flooring purchases they made in the last six months. The consumers’ comments supported many of the assumptions that the flooring industry makes about their wants and motivations, yet revealed interesting food for thought as well.

Without a doubt, the study confirms that this is indeed the age of the informed consumer. The consumers surveyed reported doing significant research online before stepping foot in a store, and shopping several brick-and-mortar locations to gather information before making a selection. The early stages of online study often include gathering data about the different flooring products available as well as reading peer reviews pertaining to both experience and product. Many of the interviewed consumers also consulted manufacturers’ websites during their research process.

Once they were ready to hit the showrooms, these consumers were eager to hear the facts they’d learned online confirmed by educated and honest retail sales associates. When this doesn’t happen, the consumer often walks away from that store. Consumers who are aware of commissions and spiffs—sales performance incentive funds—feel these sometimes motivate sales associates to steer consumers toward a product that will pay dividends, rather than one that is the best fit for their needs, and believe that gaining up-front product knowledge makes them better able to sniff out and avoid the misrepresentations of these unscrupulous sales associates. 

Many of the consumers interviewed visited home centers in the early stage of the shopping process and they generally assume that home center pricing is lower than that of independent flooring retailers. However, it’s worth noting that several of the consumers used the home centers only to gain a broad view of what’s available and never intended to make their purchase at big box establishments. 

Most of the consumers who shopped at one or more independent flooring retailers reported that confusion, primarily due to clutter, posed a significant barrier in that shopping process—even if they had limited their choice to a particular product or even a particular manufacturer.

Ultimately, only two of the six consumers interviewed could recall the brand name of the flooring they had purchased, which indicates that manufacturers’ brands are not a key influencer in their decision-making. And only one of the six installed their own flooring.

Each of the interviewees cited friends, family and their local community network as key influencers in their flooring purchase. In addition, five of the six are pet owners, which was a significant factor in their final decisions as well. 

For the complete research article, please see the October 2016 issue of Floor Focus Magazine.