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Top selling tips for cork, bamboo

August 5/12, 2019: Volume 35, Issue 4

By Megan Salzano

 

Cork and bamboo flooring have unique features and benefits, which, if promoted properly, can entice a variety of consumers. First, however, flooring store owners have a number of topics they must become familiar with in order to be successful with these products—from sustainability to installation to showroom placement. With those topics in mind, several major manufacturers in these respective flooring categories gave FCNews the following tips for success.

Education
“It is crucial to ensure customers and installers are set up for success with a thorough understanding of the best practices involved with each product and installation technique. Starting with a quality product is key, but clear install guides, videos and helpful customer support go a long way in ensuring that floor stands the test of time.”
-Tom Hume, vice president of marketing, Cali Bamboo

“It is crucial to educate the RSAs on the harvesting and manufacturing processes of cork and bamboo flooring. Since many people want to be ‘green’ but do not realize cork and bamboo flooring are options, the focus on sustainability will appeal to an ever-growing segment of buyers. For instance, did you know removing cork bark from cork oak trees actually adds years of life to the tree? These bits of information will help educate and impress the customer.”
-Natalie Cady, director of USFloors category

“For retailers wanting to get into the bamboo market, they will need to do their homework. Installing strand-woven bamboo, [for example,] cannot be done by nailing it. The product is so hard that most nailers won’t be able to penetrate all the way through.”
-Rick Shewmake, vice president of operations, Bamboo Hardwoods

Product positioning
“The answer to success is differentiation with a real story. It’s important to choose the right product that has a story that will resonate with your customers. If you offer a cork product that no one else has—and you tell the full story of warmth, soft foot feel, durability, environmental friendliness and visuals that your customer wants—you have a stronger chance of success.”
-Brian Gencher, vice president of marketing, Torlys

“I’d recommend positioning strand bamboo as an exotic, fashion-forward hard surface floor with an eco-friendly edge. The stranding process used in manufacturing creates a natural, character-driven mosaic of color variation that is currently very popular with leading hardwood flooring looks. Add to that contemporary low-luster or wire-brushed finished and/or advanced glazing techniques and you have a sure-fire winner.”
-Steve Wagner, director of sales and marketing, Wellmade Performance Flooring

“It is a solution for those looking for green, quiet, comfortable and warm flooring that’s easy-to-maintain. The successful dealer introduces [cork] to the customer when showing wood floors and as a solution to any of these issues.”
-Ann Wicander, president, WeCork

“Position cork as an alternative in the resilient section. Hardwood is a very popular surface right now, but people are looking for alternatives. Plus, cork tends to be overlooked in the wood section. Also, target the younger buyers. The older generation has sort of passed over cork, but this new generation of buyers is showing an affinity for the natural performance characteristics of cork.”
-Bo Barber, vice president of business development, Ecore