In this year’s industry outlook survey, close to 70 percent of NWFA members reported negative impacts from wood-look products such as LVT, WPC, and laminate. That number is up from the prior year. It’s clear the wood flooring industry continues to face stiff competition from synthetic products that have gained market share, while attempting to replicate the look and feel of natural wood.
On a recent trip to Nashville, Tennessee, I had the opportunity to tour the Southern Living Idea House, which is located about 30 miles outside of the city. The Idea House is created with sustainability in mind and to showcase the latest innovations in home design. Therefore, it did not surprise me at all when I saw the inside of the Idea House was filled with hardwood flooring, paneling, cabinets, and mouldings. In fact, I was surprised by just how many wood elements were used in the same room – in many places, coordinating wall panels, flooring, mouldings, door and window frames, and furniture were brought together to emphasize the home blending in with nature.
You can see it for yourself in the September issue of Southern Living. The design was very focused on sustainability, sourcing antique and local furnishings, and prioritizing natural materials. To fit into the rolling hills of Appalachia, nothing matches the landscape better than forest products. Of note, specifically to flooring, the house features current trends like wider planks and natural hues mixed with both natural and painted wood surfaces on the walls and other accents.
Examples like this, which demonstrate that designers and homeowners want wood in their homes, keep popping up. Somewhere along the buying journey a steer toward “wood look” instead of real wood seems to happen. Whether it be the budget, a consumer not knowing the difference, or preconceived notions of fake wood products being easier to maintain, there is a discord between those factors and the available solutions that may be offered with real wood flooring products.
We know the confusion can happen at the point of sale. That is why the NWFA recently launched a new sales course aimed at helping industry professionals effectively sell real wood flooring in an increasingly competitive marketplace. The innovative course challenges this trend, asking a critical question: “If customers want wood, why sell them an imitation?”
“Selling Against Wood Floor Look-alikes” provides several effective strategies for positioning and selling real wood flooring instead of vinyl, laminate, and LVT flooring alternatives. The interactive, video-based course equips participants with the tools and knowledge needed to champion the value, beauty, and authenticity of real wood flooring. Now available on the NWFA University (NWFAU) as part of the sales program, the course features a mobile-responsive design, allowing learners to access course materials anytime, anywhere, from any device.
The NWFA also continues to equip wood flooring professionals with additional materials to market real wood flooring to homeowners. The “Real Wood. Real Life.” toolkit is available for
free to NWFA members and contains digital and print ads, fact sheets, sample social media posts, and the Homeowner’s Handbook to Real Wood Floors. These resources may be downloaded at nwfa.org/consumer-outreach.
Additionally, the NWFA’s participation in the Real American Hardwood Coalition (RAHC) is ongoing. The RAHC has a mission to increase consumer awareness, market stability, and industry sales of all real American hardwood products through consumer outreach and marketing campaigns. RAHC recently launched its new Build Your World™ advertising campaign in partnership with Magnolia Network. Running through January 29, 2024, the campaign is a first for the American hardwood industry, and includes television, digital, and social media advertising components. Visit realamericanhardwood.com to check it out and learn how to participate.
These are just a few of the ways you can be involved with spreading the word about the benefits of wood flooring and pushing back against the competition from fake wood flooring. More information about “Selling Against Wood Floor Look-alikes” and other educational opportunities offered through NWFAU is available at nwfa.org/nwfa-university/.