Indeed, industry leaders acknowledge that, during these tough economic times, consumers have not been willing to pay a premium for green. And, in fact, while there remains a lot of emphasis on sustainability, Wheeler notes, “Regulation is currently driving sustainability.”
Nowhere is that more apparent currently than with regard to water conservation.
“We know the water-saving trend will continue into the future,” reports Hudec. “For example, there are currently five states that demand that water-conserving toilets be installed in new construction. We only see that only increasing.”
“With regard to water-saving products – that attribute must be part of a larger story, such as new design, high function, technology, etc.,” believes McJoynt. “Industry professionals and homeowners are coming to expect that water-saving features are part of the overall package.”
DIGITAL AND SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCES
As the industry emerges from the multi-year slump it has experienced, many aspects of reaching and selling to customers has changed – both from the manufacturer standpoint and the kitchen and bath dealer point of view.
Though the Internet was already becoming an alternative sales and marketing tool prior to the economic crash, its importance in today’s market – as well as that of social media – is unmistakable.
While respondents to the recent kitchen and bath survey are split as to whether they will add more dollars to their marketing budgets in 2013, they are embracing the Internet and social media in a big way to market their businesses. Those responding to the survey placed the use of social media at the top of their strategy lists for 2013, with 61.8 percent saying that they planned updates to their Web sites and another 46.3 percent planning to market their firms through social media (see Graph 4).
And, according to the Smart Kitchen study released earlier this year by the Research Institute for Cooking & Kitchen Intelligence (RICKI), 44% of consumers who remodeled or made improvements to their kitchens in the past year turned to the Web, social media and specialty apps for more info.
“This approach to researching projects is transforming how we market and sell products,” confirms Rottinghaus. “We are being challenged to interact with customers in more places, which is driven by the new ways they are shopping and acquiring information.”
With the continued trend toward clean, uncluttered looks and the growth of the Baby Boomer segment, “small” and “sustainable” are expected to be hot buzzwords in 2013.
“With people right-sizing their living quarters, downsizing to condos and town homes and the continued growth of urban living, smaller-scale products have high appeal,” offers McJoynt. “These types of products have high design, fit in smaller spaces and improve the overall experience.”
“Many indications that the post-2008 new homes may be smaller, more sustainable and more value-focused present manufacturers with opportunities to present new options (and sometimes tried-and-true solutions) to homeowners who have re-prioritized their wants and needs,” reports Tammy Weadock, marketing communications manager, Wilsonart in Temple, TX. “This doesn’t mean consumers are going to be willing to ‘settle’ – they’re simply going to be looking for products that deliver high value while maintaining the sense of beauty and wonder they’ve gotten used to.”
“Value added is key for 2013,” adds Lorenzo Marquez, marketing v.p., Cosentino North America in Stafford, TX. “This extends from design, sustainability and reusability of the products.”
“Many of us will focus on sensible, ‘smart’ choices that add value to our surrounds,” concludes Weadock. “And value can be interpreted not only as low cost, but more importantly, extra features: beauty, functionality, sustainability and access.”