November 26/December 3, 2018: Volume 34, Issue 12
By Ken Ryan
Innovation came in many forms in 2018. For some carpet mills it was about new tufting technology. For others, it was room visualization tools. In one case, it was about partnering with social influencers of the feline persuasion.
It all added up to a year of excitement in a soft surface category that is looking to make headlines of its own after years of ceding the spotlight to hard surface products.
Following is a rundown of some key carpet innovations and product introductions in 2018.
The brand’s two big carpet introductions in 2018 were Terra Linda and Fair Isle, signature products from the AT Signature collection, which places an emphasis on premium textures and styles. “Textures are a huge part of the carpet market,” said Matt Rosato, director of products for hardwood and carpet. “Tone on tone, solid, berber—they all need them.”
In particular, Rosato cited the best-selling Terra Linda line with its heather cut pile, full tones and vibrant colors. “It has been a fantastic product with tremendous volume both for stocking dealers as well as special order.”
Katie Ford, director of marketing, added: “Terra Linda is a state of mind. The color palette appeals to a lot of buyers.”
According to Ford, Anderson Tuftex’s soft surface products stand out, in part, because of its shearing process, which is precise, noticeable and shows clear definition. In particular, Fair Isle is noted for its tight hand and density.
The Dixie Group
Creating differentiation among PetProtect products in the Dixie Home and Masland divisions has been a major initiative in 2018. “PetProtect has been a strong segment of our business for the last several years, and we saw an opportunity to build on that success by creating new pattern and loop pile carpets with heavier face weights and beautiful designs,” said T.M. Nuckols, president, residential division, The Dixie Group.
In Dixie Home, the division launched Eminence and Willow Lake, two striking LCL patterns with great hand and a very soft touch. Larson, a two-color loop with a great touch and styling, was also introduced. “These new Dixie Home PetProtect qualities combine upscale looks with great apparent value, and they all deliver with the durability and performance of PetProtect,” Nuckols added.
Masland took it a step further with creativity and design. First, it launched Bombay Vibration, an updated take on the classic Masland product Bombay. Bombay Vibration has a broad color palette with colors ranging from residential to Main Street commercial. Two offerings, Signature and Trademark, use unique blended yarns in linear tip sheared loops and provide the look of wool with the performance of PetProtect.
One of the company’s most significant innovations has been the EF-EYE Visualizer, a new tool that was initially targeted for Engineered Hard Surfaces products but has been extended to Dream Weaver and Pentz products beginning January 2019. “Almost immediately after launching EF-EYE, we started getting requests from our customers to add residential carpet and Pentz to the tool,” said Emily Scott, marketing communication manager. “Dealers are so excited to use EF-EYE, they want it for every product category.”
A second innovation is PureBac, a flexible backing that makes installation easier.
In 2018, Invista focused on marketing messages through influencers and unique partnerships. “We went to people who had large followings,” said Jenny Wilburn, senior content marketing manager. “People really are starting to trust those influencers and believing in them as opposed to brands.”
Invista influencers included mom bloggers as well as pet influencers such as Venus the Two Face Cat, which has 1.6 million followers on Instagram and 1.3 million followers on Facebook. Invista provided PetProtect flooring for the owners of Venus. In return, Invista received favorable posts such as this one from Venus: “I spend a lot of time on the floor (when I’m not sleeping on someone’s lap, bed or chair), so I am really enjoying our new carpet and luxury vinyl by Stainmaster, which my family loves. Stainmaster PetProtect flooring is durable, comfortable and easy to clean! Purrfect for pet-friendly homes! #Stainmaster #PetProtect @sponsored.”
In 2018, Marquis put into place new state-of-the-art twisting and heat seating equipment. This equipment allowed the company to produce carpeting with lower profiles to meet consumer requests. This process provides a “clean” lower profile with a high-density level for better performance and durability, according to Chet Graham, president. “Also, this allows for more color combinations with more sophisticated styling while using solution-dyed fibers.”
Mohawk’s introduction of SmartStrand Silk Reserve carpet achieves new levels with softness, durability and easy maintenance. The Reserve fiber features permanent built-in stain and soil protection that won’t wear or wash off. It is enhanced with Nanoloc spill shield and soil protection, which makes cleaning up quick and easy, and Mohawk’s All Pet Protection and Warranty. Through an independent walk test, SmartStrand Silk Reserve endured 60,000 steps—the equivalent of seven years of foot traffic—and still looked fresh.
Mohawk’s new Air.o soft floor covering is a complete breakthrough in carpet, representing a new flooring category called USF—Unified Soft Floorcovering. Air.o leverages the Niaga technology that looks at soft flooring from the consumer backwards instead of the manufacturing plant forward. Air.o features a two-part design unified by a single polymer.
Phenix has enjoyed success with many of its innovations, but Cleaner Home has been a standout. It utilizes new fiber and backing technology, including Microban antimicrobial protection and SureFresh odor blocking benefits. The collection is made from OpulenceHD fiber, which lends itself to precise designs that create a refined appearance.
Jason Surratt, senior vice president of product and design, called Phenix’s Colorpoint tufting solution a game changer. “It allows the designer to precisely place carpet and cut and loop texture exactly where we envision within our pattern providing a crisp, clean design. Our latest patterned carpet launch, Karma, is a great example of this tufting technique.”
Synchronize, a custom carpet collection, offers three different manufacturing technologies inherent to the needs of hospitality designers. The machine-tufted patterns offer precision pattern details and capture a carved aesthetic in multilevel cuts and loops in patterns designed specifically for larger open hospitality areas, rugs and corridors.
LifeGuard spill-proof carpet backing answers the need for a worry-free carpet experience. With LifeGuard, no odor-causing spills or pet accidents soak into the carpet, pad or subfloor. This innovation emphasizes Shaw Floors’ leadership in the soft surface category by creating products that exceed the needs of consumers.
Shaw is positioning its Bellera High Performance Carpet as a game changer in the industry. Created with a holistic approach to meet the design and performance needs of consumers, Bellera is a top-to-bottom innovation known for style and durability.