Mohawk Edge Summit: Mohawk launches its latest retail strategy - Jan 2019
By Beth Miller
Last month, Mohawk Industries launched Edge, its new go-to-market loyalty program, at its Edge Summit held at Orlando, Florida’s Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center. Five hundred of the top retailers from all over the country, including retailers affiliated with NFA, Carpet One, Alliance and Abbey, attended the exclusive meeting to hear about the new strategy as well as get the scoop on what is to come for 2019. The new biennial meeting format replaces the annual aligned dealer meetings Mohawk has traditionally offered.
Mohawk has been working on the Edge strategy for three years by testing it with scores of retailers, including open-line and aligned dealers. Ultimately, the Edge strategy seeks to build a strong partnership with its aligned specialty retailers by creating a streamlined shopping experience for the consumer. “The power is shifting from those who can build a product to those who can build a relationship,” says Seth Arnold, vice president of marketing for Mohawk’s Residential business.
The Edge Summit’s general sessions offered education on interior design trends for retailers, the consumer journey, digital partnerships and online reviews, social media advertising and the future of retail. Mohawk’s showroom offered up new product introductions for 2019 and new marketing strategies for the master brands, and it gave retailers a chance to view the new retail marketing strategy that is Edge.
WHAT IS EDGE?
Mohawk is doubling down on a specialty retail program that offers incentives to retailers who are willing to work more closely with Mohawk. It is set up as a mutually beneficial program similar to the Delta rewards program. Edge is broken down into three reward levels: premiere, select and preferred. Dealers interested in participating must score well in four key areas and will then be provided with reward benefits. Essentially, the four performance areas that are tracked are: the total purchases from Mohawk, the ratio of hard and soft purchases, the dealer’s online reviews, and the amount of co-op dollars used to promote Mohawk in their local markets. The purpose of setting a ratio of hard to soft surface is to incentivize dealers to buy more hard surface products. Monitoring a dealer’s online reviews works in two ways: it alerts the dealer so that a negative review can be addressed, and it keeps tabs on dealer performance, which dictates the level of benefits available.
So what do dealers get in return? They are made a priority for on-line consumer leads; supplied with a concierge service number for claims, shipping, etc; and are given reserved access to new products and upgraded rewards. And interestingly enough, you don’t have to sign up to be a part of it. All of Mohawk’s residential dealers are monitored in these performance areas.
The big push for this summit meeting was to attract the top 500 flooring retailers regardless of their affiliation with other groups. Out of Floor Focus’ Top 100 Retail list of leading domestic flooring retailers, 90 attended the Summit. The general consensus among attendees about the Edge program was positive. Lou Morano, owner of Capitol Carpet & Tile headquartered in Boynton Beach, Florida, currently a Mohawk Omnify aligned dealer, says of his plans to participate in Edge, “We are already entrenched in it and plan on participating as much as possible.” Concerning future plans for a digital strategy involving Edge, Morano says, “Over the last several years, we have been allocating more to our digital advertising and online presence. After going to the many classes offered at the Edge convention, which were very informative, we are allocating even more.”
Dave Snedeker, executive vice president of Bob’s Carpet & Flooring in Tampa Bay, Florida, says, “We have taken on additional lines as a result of understanding Mohawk’s direction and focus for 2019. We believe it is in our best interest to engage in the Edge program.”
Some retailers are waiting to see if the new program is a good fit. Michael Longwill, owner of Airbase Carpet and Tile Mart located in New Castle, Delaware, says, “If [Mohawk] is as competitively priced on hard surface as they are in soft surface, I will buy into the programs, including the hero ad campaigns.”
Dan Mandel, co-owner of Anaheim, California-based Sterling Flooring, says of his plans to participate, “I think we need to get more specifics before we commit to anything 100%. Shows are great for us to get the ball rolling, but we always want to make calculated and smart decisions on the overall direction of our core business and make up of vendors for 2019 before we commit to anything.” Mandel reports seeing promising new products at the summit, and acknowledges the value of the Pergo program, adding, “As long as Mohawk remains somewhat exclusive with this Pergo launch, I think it could be a good brand to carry and promote. I am not sure if we are looking at changing any marketing from the info we were shown at the summit. It is something we will have to dive into in more detail with our regional team.”
However, not all retailers were drawn to the new strategy. Sam Roberts, owner of Roberts Carpet & Fine Floors, reports he has no plans to participate in Edge.
After several attempts on their own, Tom Heffner, owner of About All Floors in Birdsboro, Pennsylvania, along with many retailers grew more frustrated upon realizing they were not getting the digital services they had been promised by marketing agencies and certainly not the intended results. They approached Mohawk for help, knowing it has the resources to remedy the issue.
Heffner, who has served on Mohawk’s advisory council for five years and been a part of the Mohawk retailer program for 13 years, says, “Edge is taking the program to the next level, and it started with a need that a lot of people on the advisory council recognized-to have a digital strategy. Most of us didn’t understand digital marketing. We felt like we had a good grasp on how to buy a billboard or what a TV ad is supposed to cost in our local market or what a print ad costs in our local market. We had to figure out how to make ourselves relevant, so the partnership grew out of that and expanded into what we look at today as the Edge program.”
Omnify was the first piece of the Edge puzzle. The program was launched two years ago to help retailers build their digital presence. Mohawk reports a 33% increase in organic site traffic through the use of Omnify. The program offers retailers an online showroom, digital assets, lead capturing and nurturing, reputation management and monthly analytics.
According to Heffner, all of the pieces that make up the Edge strategy have evolved from this feedback and existing programs like Omnify and Five Star. “[Edge] is a culmination of digital [marketing efforts] and backing the digital message with in-store merchandising and marketing,” says Heffner.
Five Star, the in-store merchandising component, was born out of the ColorCenter and Floorscapes programs. This program currently offers retailers in-store support such as signage, product support, best practices, consumer promotions and certain financial advantages; it is designed to align with Mohawk’s digital marketing efforts.
The new strategy includes its Edge Local Advertising campaign that focuses on driving more traffic to retailers. The program helps with ad placement, SEO and visuals that reel in consumers. Mohawk has a national sale schedule that retailers can participate in that allows consumers to save on products and drive sales during the peak selling seasons.
WHAT IS NEW FOR 2019
The company is launching a sizeable number of products for 2019 in all of its brands. However, hard surface is leading the pack in new product development, particularly in the resilient category. In addition to the new offerings, new displays were launched specially tailored to each brand.
Pergo, which has been an exclusive brand in the laminate category for Lowe’s and Home Depot, will now move into specialty retail as of spring 2019 as a brand for rigid LVT products. The caveat with this new product is that it will only be available to Mohawk retailers who qualify based on criteria within the Edge program.
Mohawk will also launch a hard surface program in its Karastan brand later this year. Karastan Intrigue will be a high-end rigid vinyl collection.
Also launching in 2019 is RevWood Select. Three new collections will be offered. Mohawk’s top-selling RevWood Plus will expand its color palette.
The TecWood collection, in five new oak-look introductions, will feature an engineered construction that is designed to provide dimensional stability and a higher impact and dent resistance than traditional engineered floors.
VersaTech, a value-added sheet vinyl product, will offer 55 SKUs across its VersaTech, VersaTech Plus and VersaTech Ultra collections. The wood and stone looks are a clean visual with an embossed-in-register wood finish look and painted tile look.
In response to consumers’ need for more LVT design options with even greater durability, SolidTech Marquee will debut over 20 new wood and tile looks and will include StainShield, DualGuard and All Pet Plus Protection. It will also be the first domestically produced rigid LVT product.
On the soft surface side, Karastan will expand its innovation and design in its three fiber categories. Karastan’s new Kashmere nylon collections offer upscale products that are plush and durable. Both SmartStrand Silk and SmartStrand Ultra will add offerings to provide more texture, subtle patterns and appealing color options. New flatweave and tufted collections will be offered in a 100% wool or wool blend. Karastan’s new Wilton Intros collection is created using Karastan’s Wilton looms to offer new styles.
The Godfrey Hirst brand has added more SKUs to its SmartStrand Ultra, SmartStrand Silk and SmartStrand Reserve programs. It will also introduce four new tufted wool styles.
Airo, a 100% recyclable carpet, will increase its existing line to bring the total to 16 SKUs. The new introductions provide consumers with more design options, multiple price points and thicker weights.
Additionally, Mohawk plans to expand its EverStrand polyester carpet offerings. As for SmartStrand Silk Reserve, the company is introducing new ColorMax styles that offer more color saturation.
Feedback on the new products was overall positive. Morano of Capitol Carpet says, “The new visuals for their vinyl products are excellent! They really did a terrific job.” Roberts of Roberts Carpet expressed interest in the Karastan and Godrey Hirst carpet intros.
Snedeker of Bob’s Carpet says, “The Karastan introductions were fantastic, and we are excited to add their line to some of our stores.”
Longwill of Airbase Carpet adds, “Some of the Pergo SKUs were unique. Revwood Plus is one of the nicest laminates made, and TecWood has the potential to take some marketshare from traditional solid and engineered if they keep it competitive.”
Mandel of Sterling Flooring says, “The Pergo story is intriguing and still a strong brand in our industry. We will need to review the products more to decide what direction we want to move in. They had some very aggressive deals on some SmartStrand and polyester also, but to be honest, some of the styling was just so-so.”
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