The panel – which consisted of Roberto Contreras, president of Cosentino USA, Martin Davis, president & CEO of Cambria, Arik Tendler, president of CaesarStone USA and Thomas Powell, president of DuPont Building Innovations – addressed the strategic direction of the surfacing industry as well as the growing role of the fabricator.
In the quartz segment, improved technology, greater color consistency and a wider array of colors and patterns were cited as strengths helping to drive the market. For solid surface, the diversity of color and pattern choices, as well as the myriad fabrication possibilities were cited as strong selling factors.
Globalization continues to impact color and style trends, according to Contreras, who said that, despite preference differences based on locale – “U.S. consumers favor granite colors, [which is very] unlike Europeans,” – the world is getting smaller in terms of trends. “While there are different color sensibilities and tastes, we can expect to see a more global coming together in terms of style and color preferences over time.”
Powell also stated his belief that design is going to be a driving factor in the future of countertops, rather than new materials.
He explained, “I don’t think the next hot thing is going to be a new product. Natural colors, more flow in solid surface, that’s what I see. I think there’s a lot of room for new looks with solid surface and quartz, and [I believe] this will be a big part of [what drives the market in the] future.”
Davis added, “The geometric installation, the edge, the ability to customize in a creative way...these are all things that combine with the product to add value for consumers.”
The changing distribution chain will also continue to impact the market, according to Powell, who noted, “The distribution chain has changed a lot in the past few years, and there are a lot of distribution models. But the real question is, how do you get to the most consumers? Products are becoming more and more competitive, consumers have more choices than ever, and it’s not just about [having the right literature], it’s about how fast you can get it done.”
Environmental concerns, too, will increasingly affect the market, the panel predicted, as Tendler explained, “Green is the new black. We’re definitely seeing a surge of interest in sustainable design and [eco-friendly] products.”
Because personalization is such an important factor in kitchen design, the panel said fabricators will play a key role in the future of the surfacing materials. “In a mass market society, people want individuality,” noted Davis. “Consumers want to express themselves in unique ways, and that’s what the fabricator adds.”
“Big boxes have changed the world,” stated Powell. “Even people who don’t purchase from them go to see all the choices. But people who like a more customized [design and experience] will gravitate to smaller shops. Customization is going to be the way of the future.”
As Contreras concluded: “Knowledge is where we grow this market. My advice to fabricators is to invest in information.”