By Mallory Cruise-McGrath
Armstrong Flooring is perhaps one of the strongest brands in the floor covering market. Today, the company is using that brand — along with its winning team, winning channels, winning products and winning brand strategies — to strengthen its current position in the hardwood market.
“We have the most recognized name on the market and we invest heavily to build brand awareness and a customer-aligned business,” senior vice president, chief product officer, Joe Bondi shared with FCW.
Engaging the consumer
Building brand awareness was indeed a key focus for the company this year as it looked to drive demand and engage better with consumers and dealers. One way the company looked to do this was by embarking on a bold, multi-channel national marketing campaign for the fall selling season called “The Floor is Yours.”
“As part of ‘The Floor is Yours’ campaign, we talk about the key stages of ‘Know, Trust, Try and Buy’ to make sure we’re driving that deep connection throughout the purchase process. And not just with homeowners but with trade professionals and the A&D community as well, and that crosses over residential and commercial,” said Bondi.
The campaign emphasizes the design, leadership and performance benefits of the company’s “star performer” products: Paragon with Diamond 10 Technology, Alterna Engineered Stone, and the company’s LVT and vinyl sheet offering. Hardwood, for example, is paired with world-renowned lumberjill Martha King for its “The New Look of Tough” promotion.
Paragon with Diamond 10 Technology specifically is a great example of Armstrong’s commitment to innovative products with strong consumer messaging. “Our market research has made explicitly clear that consumers desire the timeless aesthetic of wood flooring and its enduring quality, warmth and durability. Hardwood floors are a proven investment that add value to the home but for many consumers, price is a swing factor. So, we’re making investments to remove barriers and elevate the value proposition for consumers,” said Bondi.
An evolving consumer journey has also encouraged the company to invest heavily in revamping its residential website to better connect with shoppers.
“The consumer purchase journey is no longer a linear progression — it’s a very scattered, nonlinear process and this makes brands all the more important,” noted Bondi.
Investments made this year are designed to help Armstrong Flooring address what Bondi calls an “unfavorable industry structure,” which has also led to the closure of two of the company’s wood plants, one in Jackson, Tennessee and another in Vicksburg, Mississippi.
“Purposeful decisions were made to address this structure which is the result of changing market dynamics, evolving demand in the market and productivity benefits seen in our other wood facilities,” he said.
Educating the retail sales associate is yet another challenge, Bondi noted, saying, “There’s a lack of education around what is or isn’t a hardwood floor.”
The company addressed this need for education at a 2018 launch event held earlier this fall where it brought it in its distributor partners. Here, Armstrong Flooring not only introduced new products but also held educational seminars focused on how to best sell the features and benefits of hardwood. The company used educational tools, such as training modules, that distributors can then use to educate RSAs and dealers.
“It will include the same content dealers can then share with consumers on product installation and performance,” Bondi added. “Our field teams are equipped to deliver training on an ad hoc basis or more formal training opportunities.”
A winning stable of brands
Armstrong spent 2017 investing in its product portfolio to emphasize those selection attributes that matter most to consumers — design, durability and value, said senior vice president, chief product officer, Joe Bondi. In doing so, the company also focused on developing sound brand strategies to further support its wood business.
Here is a look at several of Armstrong’s flagship brands in which the company continues to invest:
- Armstrong Flooring — “The Armstrong Flooring brand is targeted at the ‘do it for me’ consumer that we meet at specialty retail and in installed sales at the home centers,” offered Bondi. Notable products include Paragon (solid) with Diamond 10 Technology; Rustic Restorations (solid); the 2017 FCW Dealers’ Choice award winner Woodland Relics (engineered); Performance Plus (engineered); and, Appalachian Ridge (solid) which is set to debut at Surfaces, among others.
- Bruce — Bruce is a valuable equity brand in the professional remodel and DIY markets, said Bondi. “As we move into 2018, we expect it to continue to be the lead brand in the builder market where it ranks number one in service and recognition. We’re working to increase Bruce’s presence and profile with flooring contractors and those channels that serve that group,” Bondi said.
- Cappella — “With Cappella, we have an opportunity to go after the value and opening price point segment of the market,” said Bondi. “It allows us to compete with some of the imported low-end products in the market but with a domestically made product to offer a better value proposition to customers.”
- HomerWood — HomerWood is Armstrong Flooring’s premium luxury hardwood brand and features solid and engineered products handscraped by Amish craftsmen. “We’re continuing to grow our business in the premium segment,” said Bondi. “With HomerWood, we have the ability to create truly custom looks per designer and customer specs which opens up opportunities within the design community and commercial market.”
This post, Armstrong’s products, promotions engage consumers, was originally published on December 28, 2017 on Floor Covering Weekly.