by Matthew Spieler
Fountain Inn, S.C.—Anderson Hardwood Floors is going back to its roots, so to say. The wood flooring mill announced a comprehensive rebranding initiative that not only focuses on the company’s flagship namesake and its American heritage, it is designed to give distributors and retailers easier, more profitable opportunities.
In a nutshell, the total brand restructure consists of condensing the mill’s product line from four brands to two flagship brands—Anderson and Virginia Vintage—lower pricing, a “Made in America” marketing theme and the launch of the Anderson Preferred Partner retail program.
During an exclusive conference call with FCNews, Scott Sandlin, vice president of Shaw Industries’ Hard Surfaces division, Anderson’s parent company, said the restructure, which was initially announced during an Anderson distributor event at BMW’s Performance Driving Center in Greer, S.C., is “the culmination of nearly 10 months of work.”
Jeff Sills, Anderson’s executive vice president of sales, when looking at all the things the industry has been through in the last five to six years, “we needed a way to re-energize things and create more value for our distributor and retail customers. To put this plan together, we brought in people from all levels and departments—manufacturing, sales, marketing—at Shaw and Anderson.”
The plan was then presented to the Anderson Distributor Council for feedback, he added, “and everyone bought into it 100%, saying even though it will be an expensive undertaking, it is something that had to be done.”
Sandlin said it was more than just a total buy-in by the council. “We left the event at BMW with as much excitement as any meeting I’ve ever been to.”
While the rebranding includes numerous items across Anderson there are three main points on which the restructure is centered. The first is a complete overall of the Anderson product line. By the end January 2012 the Appalachian and Biltmore lines will be no more as the company puts all focus on its flagship brands, Anderson and Virginia Vintage.
Sills said not all products from the discontinued lines will be eliminated and, likewise, not all products from the Anderson and Virginia Vintage are being kept.
The Anderson brand will be the workhorse as it will include all types of wood flooring products across every price point, while Virginia Vintage will continue to be positioned as the premier brand.
Best of the best
“We’ve taken the best-selling products from the four brands and consolidated them into two flagship brands. Essentially, we simplified our hardwood collection to the best of the best. We’re creating a better opportunity for our distributor and retail partners to make greater profits because they are getting the best Anderson has to offer.”
All told, the restructuring takes out almost 600 manufacturing SKUs while reducing the actual SKUs by more than 113.
The result, noted Don Finkell, Anderson’s CEO, will be a “more streamlined production process that increases efficiency and provides enhanced service to dealers.”
The branding conversion will include retrofitting existing displays to reflect the new two-brand structure.
Even with the reduction in products, Sandlin said the company will still introduce two collections at Shaw’s winter markets: Chestnut Hill and Renaissance.
Chestnut Hill, which is being added to the Anderson brand, is a handscraped hickory in three colors. Finkell called the product “a true designer vision with a timeless style” that merges design elements of the past with modern appeal.
Meanwhile Renaissance, which is getting placed in Virginia Vintage, features three distinct floors, styled in hickory, white oak and maple. “We went to the drawing board with the intention of creating one of Anderson’s most elegant and beautiful hardwood floors,” Finkell explained. “The luster and charisma this design reflects makes it truly enchanting. And with the 7-inch wide plank, it really has a bold presence that attracts attention.”
In being able to optimize its processes, Sandlin added the company is “passing the savings” to customers in the form of lower prices.
In addition to enhanced service and pricing, Finkell said the transition to a more streamlined offering, “will improve our competitiveness while adhering to the ideals of our company.”
Which brings up the second main point of the rebranding initiative.
The new approach not only encourages a more simplified approach, Finkell said it points to a “powerful identity that prioritizes the historical trademarks of Made in America pride, fine craftsmanship and impeccable value consumers have come to know and love. Our customers have a deep connection to the tradition-steeped Anderson brand.”
The 65-year-old manufacturer currently has 14 plants in the U.S., and its American heritage will be highlighted in marketing materials as well as in-store messaging. This includes new graphics on the retrofitted displays featuring patriotic colors and a vintage feel reflective of the company’s rich history.
A P-O-P kit loaded with marketing materials to showcase the Made in America theme have been sent to 4,000 dealers. Mollie Surratt, Anderson’s director of marketing, said a recently introduced “Why Anderson?” brochure will be the leading collateral piece for the year. “The piece highlights the story, innovation and attributes behind Anderson Hardwood.” In addition, the andersonfloors.com home page will also tout new messaging as part of the brand strategy.
The third piece of the rebranding strategy is a a new partnership program for retailers.
Sills said the Anderson Preferred Partner program will allow the Anderson family of brands to work harder for retailers with highlighted listing on the website’s dealer locator, free promotion registration and POP materials, access to lower pricing and other special benefits.
He said some of the other advantages of being a preferred partner includes such things as being able to self inspect on claims up to $500, access to local advertising materials on andersonconnect.com, and an increase in display floor credit from 200 square feet to 400 square feet at 50% off.
Surratt said a special section on Anderson’s website has been set up to help dealers get more information about the program: andersonfloors.com/preferredpartner.
She stressed this is a totally separate program from Shaw’s Flooring Alliance (SFA) network. “The only requrement is the dealer needs to represent Anderson; it is not tied to SFA. In fact, a dealer can be both an SFA member and Anderson Preferred Partner, and we expect to see a great deal of overlap.”
Surratt added the rebranding is not slowing the company down in terms of promotions for 2012. For example, in support of its Made in America theme, the company will have a spring promotion, the “Anderson All America Road Trip Sale,” from April 2 to June 30. “There going to be more things as well, from interactive to social media and so on.”
Sandlin pointed out the new products and promotions are an indication of the company maintaining its commitment to Anderson and not cutting back as some in the industry suggested. To the contrary, “We have stuck to our commitment of the Anderson brand and have tried to add to it by investing in all aspects. In fact, we have invested more in Anderson than anyone in the industry.”