Tag Archives: construction trends

Is There More Opportunity for Green Builders in 2016?

19 Jul

HouseLawnPlan

The number of contractors involved in more than 60% of green products is growing and is set to grow to 31% both inside and out of the United States, according to a study by Dodge Data and Analytics. The largest green growth is occurring in First World and emerging economies around the world, such as the US, Brazil, South Africa, Germany, and Saudi Arabia. The rate of green building in the US, the UK, and Germany—even in the wake of Brexit—is expected to double by 2018.
The opportunity for green builders in the near future seems inevitable, but is there a way for a new construction product manufacturer to find his way into the market in 2016?
The answer lies in understanding the drivers for green building and positioning your company to take advantage of the developments.
Contractors who do business with government are at an advantage, especially in the United States and a few other Western countries. The US and Germany both have set a priority to expand new initiatives into other countries. Approximately 21 percent of contractors that are currently in the US now report that more than 60% of their contracted projects are green.
Some of the drivers for green building include new environmental regulations around the world, a market demand for sustainable energy construction, and individual client demand for green construction within certain industries. Part of the reason that green building is accelerating more quickly in the US than in the rest of the world is the client demand in the country. Clients in countries that are not the US are much more concerned with market demands, a great deal of which is keeping up with the money that the US spends on green construction.
Contractors outside of the US are more concerned with the impact of building sustainable energy buildings on the health of the actual occupants of that building. Basically, if you are trying to build inside of the US, your investors will want to know if you can reduce water and energy costs. Outside of the US, you should present how you will protect natural resources in the surrounding environment.
Overall, the US is trying to stay ahead of the world in the new green economy, and global competition is increasing because of the value inherent in green building. Depending on the contract that you are trying to get, focus on the needs of the partner organizations and clients in order to take advantage of the new, wide open green market. If you are selling to contractors inside of the US, make sure they know your products can help with energy costs—sell yourself as the supply-side cost reduction expert. Outside of the US, you might be able to get a leg up by featuring the ways in which your products will eventually help the people who will live and work in the buildings that will be created.

Share via email

IBS 2016: Innovation Starts at the End of the Channel

4 Feb

Why I’m Demanding a Disruption in Building Products Development

Trendsetters

It seems like every meeting I have been in over the last few months has the same common theme. When asking any building materials manufacturer what they want to be famous for, the one word I hear over and over is “innovation,” or being an “innovator,” or being “innovative.”

No matter the iteration of the word, they’re saying the same thing: they want to come to market with products that chart the path for the industry. The question is: what is anybody doing to really accomplish that? Just stating the word does not change the product development process or disrupt the industry with new and truly innovative products.

That’s why while I was at the 2016 International Builders’ Shower (IBS) and Kitchen and Bath Industry Show (KBIS), I was delighted to run across a company doing exactly that. Cosentino® is a building products company that develops stunning quartz and stone options for kitchen and bathroom surfaces. One of their products, Silestone®, is a beautiful high-end surface made of 94% quartz.

But what makes this product so innovative is not just the advanced bacteriostatic technology or its incredible resistance and durability, or even its numerous designs; it’s the way Cosentino develops those designs.

Through the support of their Silestone Trendspotters, a diverse group of top designers from across the country, Cosentino creates new looks every year inspired by some of the most cutting-edge and forthcoming designs in the market. How do they accomplish this? Cosentino goes straight to the other end of the channel to talk to the people using their product (and, presumably, their competitors’ products), and then gets their insights to develop a product that will set the course for tomorrow’s trends.

Let’s be clear: these designers aren’t just choosing colors. Manufacturers everywhere bring in a designer or two to pick out colors; that’s nothing new. The Trendspotters is a team of designers from all different places across the country, from different points in their careers (some veterans, some up-and-comers), from different styles and backgrounds, from different philosophies and clienteles.

Cosentino made a bold move in picking them, flying them to Italy, and turning them loose to work with engineers, product developers, and others on the manufacturing team to create a product they collectively thought reflected where design is headed. The magic of this is in how fearless Cosentino was in being open to the opportunity of what could be made when this diverse team of forward-thinkers got access to their resources, intelligence, and the inspiration of Italy.

Here are two of the new looks from the Etchings collections created this year by the Trendspotters:

  • Ink EtchInk: This jet black design is a classic, clean, and simple showstopper in most decor. By complementing the boldness of the Etchings design with a timeless shade, homeowners can feel confident their choice won’t go out of style any time soon.
  • AquaTint EtchAquatint: Look familiar? Our Art Director, Stephanie Voss, wrote a blog last year about how calming blue hues like Pantone’s Serenity will influence the building products industry in 2016. Proof pudding.

This approach to product development and design is brilliant precisely because it seems so obvious—but it’s not. Not everyone in building products is doing this. In fact, a lot of manufacturers either base their designs on focus group input or simply create designs based on studies published through standard trade outlets. Both options have their place, but are also inherently reactive—not always the best option for companies who seek to be innovative.

But who better to tell building products manufacturers at the top of the channel where design is going than some of the top designers in the country? By using these designers’ “on the ground” knowledge, Cosentino’s Silestone product is poised to set the tone for other designers and consumers in the coming years.

It takes time, energy, patience, investment, and courage to utilize an approach like this—an approach that empowers someone outside of your company to not only influence product design, but to create it. But that is true innovation. It’s listening, it’s using resources, it’s collaborating, and it’s understanding the channel on every level and using those insights to better your product and better the entire industry. Using focus groups and studies is also necessary for understanding today’s trends, but setting tomorrow’s requires further channel insights—exactly what Cosentino is doing with its Trendspotters.

I’m certain that this new line is going to be a hit, but I’m even more certain that the process will open the building products world to even more innovative creations.

Share via email

10 IBS Insights You Need to Know (Part 2/2)

28 Jan

Part Two: 5 Design Trends from IBS 2016

Indoor Outdoor Living

Every year, the International Builders’ Show (IBS) is the best place for marketers to keep a finger on the pulse of where the building products industry is going. The ER Marketing team and I attended this year, and we were able to learn everything from the latest marketing trends to a general economic housing outlook to the latest products that will impact everyone down the channel.

There’s no question that tech and high-performance homes are big, overarching trends to look for in 2016. But the show proved that neither of those trends can come at the expense of design, so the onus is on marketers at the higher end of the channel to educate their customers how these products can integrate into a home’s design beautifully and seamlessly.

Using our own team hashtag, #IBSDoubleTake, we captured the things that made us stop and take notice during IBS 2016. And they’re things you should take notice of, too—they’ll be impacting the way we market these products as we get deeper into 2016 and the coming years. Here are some of the design trends spotted at IBS 2016 by my team:

Top 5 Design Trends from IBS 2016:

  1. You are no longer in the building business. You are in the technology business. As customers at the end of the channel nutonebecome more and more tech-savvy (and tech-reliant), so too will their homes and the products they choose to build it with or put in it. Even down to seemingly simple products like this Nutone doorbell with 250 MB of space for custom doorbell rings/music, tech was the showstopper. Nutone did an excellent job of showing how a fun piece of technology can also inspire a clean and simple design aesthetic.
  2. Tech is big, but so is functionality. And new tech needs to integrate seamlessly into any design, including traditional, to be truly functional for customers. Wellborn Cabinets did that well with their remote control island—super functional, super classic, super innovative.Kohler Bath
  3. Lighting is big. Kohler highlighted the fact that whether in the home or in the booth, eye-catching lighting will be important for building products marketers to account for in 2016 and beyond. Consider how you might use unique lighting tactics to modernize your product photography as well.
  4. The style of the New American Home was “Rustic Modern.” What does that mean for building products marketers? Focus on a design that combines natural elements, textures, and colors with clean, simple, and crisp lines. In fact, the home executed this so effortlessly, it appeared to be a part of the natural landscape!New American Home 1
  5. Wondering how outdoor living plays in? Don’t worry—it hasn’t gotten away. In recent years, outdoor living has meant bringing amenities you would normally expect indoors (fireplaces/pits, speakers, covered seating) to the outdoors. Now it’s about bringing outdoor elements in with seamless, even tenuous, transitions from the indoors to the outdoors. This means floor to ceiling glass, pocket doors, cable or glass railing, clean lines, and corresponding design elements (like using recessed lighting and using the same flooring styles inside and outside, for example).

If you missed our post earlier in the week, make sure to read the Top 5 Marketing Trends building products marketers need to know from IBS 2016.

Share via email

2015’s Top 10 Building Product Dealers and Lumberyards to Follow on Twitter (Part 1)

24 Sep

Prepare to Click Follow—A Lot.

Click Follow

You’ll hear a lot of people in the building products industry make the claim that social media isn’t important to their marketing strategies. But the truth is that generational dynamics are shifting, putting Millennials and other social media users in new buying positions. It’s not something that’s coming down the line—it’s something that’s already happening. For many building products marketers, however, the bigger issue is simply knowing where to begin when trying to incorporate social media into their strategies.

To that end, I’ve rounded up a list of the top building products dealers on Twitter. If you’re in the building products industry, go ahead and click the “follow” button on these accounts—they’re getting it right.

  1. Lumber Liquidators (@hardwoodforless): Lumber Liquidators regularly posts information and images about the latest trends in the building products industry including flooring and more. Plus, they post images of customer home transformations that jog the inspiration of pros and homeowners alike.
  2. Moore Lumber (@moorelumber): With daily tweets and informative industry article, Moore Lumber has a lot to offer their almost 1,000 followers. Not only do they share company information and sales, but they also feature supplies that can be used for DIY Pinterest projects.
  3. Sherwood Lumber (@sherwoodlumber): Taking a slightly different approach to some other lumberyards, Sherwood Lumber tweets about wood and forest science as well as industry news that building products marketers need to keep abreast of.
  4. Ro-Mac Lumber (@lumber_romac): This account smartly utilizes expert insight by incorporating company interviews, blog posts, relevant articles, and excellent video content that sets them apart from many of the other lumberyards on Twitter.
  5. Fingerle Lumber Co. (@fingerlelumber): What Fingerle gets about social is something that can’t be taught—it’s about being a part of a larger community and finding posts that people can relate to. Although relatively new to Twitter, they post regularly about their culture, Ann Arbor community events, and their lumber products.

That concludes the first half of our list, and if you’re looking for even more accounts to follow, look at our previous lists here and here.

Share via email

Is Housing Really Back?

3 Sep

Why That Question Might Be More Complicated Than You Think

aa048908

As anyone who works in building products can attest, this is not an industry for the weak of heart. The last few years have required everyone—from the manufacturers to the distributors to the dealers to the pros—to weather a lot of ups and downs. As we all know, the economy is now recovering from those difficult times, and so is the building products industry. But the real question on everyone’s minds is simple: is housing really back?

It may seem like a simple question, but the answer is far from it; in fact, the July 2015 Building Products & Construction Industry report from Piper Jaffray offers some important information on this topic:

  • Residential product manufacturers are up 19.4% over last year
  • Lumber/wood product manufacturers are down by 11.5% from 2014
  • Homebuilders have experienced modest growth over last year’s numbers—about 2.8%
  • Builder confidence and remodeling spending remain positive as of July 2015—an exceptionally good sign for residential product manufacturers

As most in the building products industry can agree, the big number will always be starts. In its heyday, the building products industry was at around 1.5 million starts. As of July 2015, housing starts in the US are up to 1,206,000—the highest since October of 2007.

So the question remains—is housing really back? You’re not likely to find a single answer on this, because a simple, universally agreed upon answer doesn’t exist. There are glimpses of great happenings in the industry including multi-family growth and remodeling growth, but most of us in the building industry agree that getting back to 1.5 million starts isn’t going to happen. Ever. Those times are gone—and maybe that is a good thing. We are back to numbers that are reasonable and—dare I say it—sustainable. The trick is now, as building product marketers, to capitalize on these upward trends to promote further growth.

Here’s a quick digest of relevant articles about the state of housing. Give them a read!

Share via email