‘Real wood. Real Life’ slogan is the focal point of consumer/retailer educational initiative
By Reginald Tucker
The National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) is rolling out a new effort to help retailers’ customers—the homeowners—learn more about the characteristics and benefits of real wood floors while differentiating the product from so-called “look-alikes.” The newly launched campaign, dubbed “Real Wood. Real Life,” which is sponsored by Mannington Mills and Maxwell Hardwood Flooring, provides information on choosing the right wood floor, selecting a professional for the job and conducting proper maintenance, among other points.
According to Michael Martin, president and CEO of NWFA, the flood of wood-lookalike products like laminate, tile, plastic composite and vinyl plank flooring has created a lot of confusion about what is and what is not a real wood floor. Hence the timing of the new campaign.
“At the end of 2017 we published a research study on consumers to get their insights and perceptions about wood floors,” Martin told FCNews at TISE 2019. “What we discovered was two-thirds of consumers want wood floors. However, we found many consumers don’t know the difference between wood floors and other products. The intent was to take that research and design a campaign around it.”
But before the NWFA could proceed, it realized it first needed to devise a formal definition of what constitutes a real wood floor. So late in the fourth quarter of 2018, the association published an official release describing real wood flooring as follows: “Any flooring product that contains real wood as the top-most, wearable surface of the floor.” (This includes solid and engineered wood flooring, as well as composite engineered wood flooring.)
“The first two definitions are pretty self-explanatory—solid vs. engineered—with the third being engineered composite,” Martin explained. “We also felt we could not ignore any floor that had a real piece of wood on the wear layer—no matter what’s on the back, whether it’s composite, plastic, resin or otherwise. As long as it has a real wood surface, it falls under the definition of a real wood floor. What doesn’t fall under that definition is a photograph of wood on a piece of paper that’s then sealed onto a piece of plastic—that’s not wood.”
The NWFA is looking to reach consumers with this information via the new Homeowner’s Handbook to Real Wood Floors and WoodFloors.Org. Whether a homeowner is trying to decide between solid or engineered wood or looking for ways to protect floors from their pets, the handbook and website are a one-stop shop for wood flooring tips.
“The entire supply chain needs to make the most out of the consumer’s desire to have wood floors and ensure that we’re all doing our part to provide a quality product to the end user,” added Chris Zizza, NWFA chairman and president of Westwood, Mass.-based C&R Flooring.
Along with the new handbook and website, NWFA has produced a campaign “toolkit” for retailers and contractors to make it easier for them to tailor the “Real wood. Real Life” marketing message to their unique businesses. By visiting the nwfa.org site, members can click on a dedicated link and download all of the essentials they need to carry out the campaign. This includes: creative assets such as digital and print ad materials; campaign logos; trade show tabletop signage; media outreach materials; and product fact sheets. NWFA has also provided retailers with social media posts they can use in their online marketing efforts—efforts that are supplemented by NWFA’s own social media posts.
“Members can essentially drop in their logo and all of a sudden they have a co-branded piece with the credibility of NWFA’s name,” said Libby Johnston, NWFA director of media and advertising. “These plug and play, ready-to-go templates materials are designed to simplify the process and make it easier for retailers to participate in the campaign.”
To help dealers get started on the campaign, Johnston provided additional tips:
- Decide how to tell your story. “Invite the local press to tour your facility or submit an op-ed piece. You can also choose a combination of elements from the toolkit.”
- Choose an engaging spokesperson. “Identify a leader, a marketing person or someone else within your company who’s on the front lines who’s very passionate about your company.
- Create a media kit. “Include a press release, photo, logos, marketing materials and product information and share it with the media.”
- Develop a media list.“Pull together a list of local or talk morning radio shows or local TV affiliates and local newspapers and media outlets and even online-only media. Find out the names of the home improvement editors working at the different media outlets.”
- Make a compelling pitch. “This is your opportunity to grab the reporter’s attention and point out why you should matter to them and their readers. Make it local and relevant to the community.”
- Follow up.“Touch base with your contacts to find out when the story is going to run, then share it with your team, post it on your website, etc. Remember, an op-ed piece might run a few weeks after you submit the materials.”