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Spotlight: 3M entertains the possibilities

January 16/23, 2017: Volume 31, Number 16

By Lindsay Baillie

Screen Shot 2017-01-13 at 12.57.25 PMSince the 1970s, 3M’s name in the flooring industry has been associated with the company’s successful Scotchgard Protector brand. As one of the leading brands of stain, spill and soil protection on the market, Scotchgard has grown alongside the industry to provide protection for not only carpet but also hard surfaces. From its inception, the Scotchgard Protector brand has continued to tackle new floor protecting issues in keeping with the development of the industry’s new flooring styles.

Known for its ability to repel, resist and protect, the Scotchgard brand is marketed as a product that provides built-in protection for a variety of flooring materials, soft and hard surface alike. As flooring continues to evolve, that begs the question: What will be the next 3M flooring innovation? For 3M, the possibilities are endless.

“We are using our strategic model to expand 3M into the flooring industry and to maybe bring other consumer brands and technologies into the flooring industry as well,” said Carrie Pettit, segment marketer, 3M Home Care division. “We have several divisions that have technology platforms we can continue to look into and expand. When looking at all of 3M’s divisions we’re constantly thinking, ‘What do we have available that can make sense for flooring?’ ”

In order to develop new products across 3M’s multiple divisions, the company is asking consumers deeper questions about floor care, including how they feel about keeping their floors clean. Pettit explained the company is interested in the emotions behind cleaning and seeing clean floors. “We continue to get consumer insight around cleaning habits and what they expect when taking care of their floors,” Pettit explained.

Screen Shot 2017-01-13 at 12.56.27 PM3M is using these insights to develop new soft surface innovations, an area Pettit said the company is constantly working on. “We have a new product portfolio for polyester, and we have a new platform for nylon that will bring differentiation to nylon. We have continued innovations for nylon and polyester that provide state-of-the-art performance based on what consumers are looking for.”

As far as innovations for hard surfaces go, 3M is gathering as much information as it can before developing new products. As Pettit explains, “It’s an important space for the flooring industry and we’re gathering the voices of customers along with consumer insights to drive what we do in the lab.”

Pettit explained it can be difficult to develop products for hard surfaces that fit within the price points consumers are looking for. There are also multiple factors to consider, such as whether the product is scratch resistant or self-healing. Because hard surfaces vary in style, material and design no one product is the perfect solution for all. “You have your hardwoods, which scratch, and then you have LVT that looks like hardwood but doesn’t scratch—yet it dents,” Pettit explained. “We’re focused on educating consumers on how to maintain the perfect floors that they want.”

As 3M continues to integrate its different divisions into the flooring industry the opportunities for innovation are vast. “Over the last few years we’ve really maintained our focus on carpet and flooring,” said Eric Ruppert, senior account representative, 3M Scotchgard. “Trying to make flooring stay cleaner for longer with less maintenance. How do you do that? You have to build a new product that has both oil and soil repellency, and then you also have the durability that allows you to clean your floor multiple times and still have that protection remain on the product.”

According to 3M, this not only entails tapping into a lot of new technologies that are coming from within its own labs but also working with its key accounts to take 3M technologies and apply it to the flooring segment. “For example, 3M is huge in adhesives,” Ruppert said, citing the trend toward applying flooring materials to walls.

In a nutshell, utilizing more than just its Scotchgard brand will allow 3M to introduce different types of products to the industry. “We make anything from tape to aerospace technologies, so being able to tap into different divisions is fun for me as a key account rep because I’m able to expand what we do and have a better offering for 3M in general,” Ruppert said.

Brainstorming other possibilities Pettit cited coding for machines, printed film for walls—“those types of things.”

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Marketing Online: The importance of ratings and reviews

July 4/11, 2016; Volume 30, Number 27

This special FCNews Marketing Online series, sponsored by 3M, is designed to help retailers build their social media presence and, by extension, strengthen the connection with consumers.

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 4.11.13 PMNearly 90% of consumers consider ratings and reviews before making purchase decisions, recent marketing industry estimates show. In the era of Yelp, Amazon and Google, among others, shoppers are seeking credible insight and feedback from everyday people long before they hear the retail sales associate’s product pitch.

“We all know the way customers research a product or service has changed dramatically over the last several years,” said Janice Jacobs, vice president of marketing, Carpet One Floor & Home. “Customers increasingly rely on ratings and reviews to help inform their buying decisions, especially with more difficult choices such as flooring. And it’s not just products they are researching. In the flooring industry customers are also paying attention to the reputation of service providers before they walk into their local flooring stores.”

With that, flooring manufacturers and buying groups are developing their own systems for helping retailers simultaneously garner and address online feedback that will ultimately be in the public domain even if it doesn’t initially start there.

For example, Mohawk launched BuzzLocal powered by FloorForce in 2015 to provide a new ratings and reviews system. The company believes the ability to search on Facebook, Pinterest and YouTube will connect potential customers to online feedback quickly and seamlessly. BuzzLocal includes three important steps of managing a dealer’s online reputation: review, respond and reach.

In that same vein, Shaw refers to its process of organizing and addressing ratings and reviews as “reputation management.” Its Share it Forward platform allows dealers to log in and see reviews they have received on sites like Yahoo, Google, Bing and others for complete visibility of their online reputations.

“We wanted to make it easy for retailers to manage [their reputations],” said Misty Hodge, Shaw’s director of digital platforms for residential marketing. “Through Share it Forward dealers can see what consumers share about experiences both good and bad. Consumer reviews help go beyond what dealers can say about themselves; it lets potential customers know what people who have done business with [these dealers] have to say.”

More importantly, retailers could be getting ratings and reviews and not even know it, which is why management systems come in handy, experts say. To that end, both positive and negative reviews on personal websites, review sites and social media should be recognized.

What is also paramount for independent retailers’ online reviews today is proving they are better than the big box stores in town. Flooring America statistics show an average 4.6 stars out of 5 on the 20,000-plus ratings for its stores, which are based on service, installation, etc. The average home center score is 3.3 to 3.5 stars out of 5.

Frank Chiera, senior vice president, marketing and advertising, CCA Global Partners (parent company of Flooring America/Flooring Canada, The Floor Trader, International Design Guild and BizUnite), noted many salespeople have a “mental block they need to get over” when it comes to requesting reviews from customers once a job is complete. To remedy this, Flooring America continues to enhance programs to make sure RSAs are comfortable asking for reviews and helping them understand why this feedback is important.

Mollie Surratt, senior director of public relations, content and social media, Mohawk Flooring, also mentioned the importance of encouraging positive reviews. “A lot of the time positive reviews need to be asked for,” she said. “Retailers should make an effort to ask happy consumers for positive reviews. This should happen within 30 days of a purchase. There should be an ongoing conversation with the consumer.”


Responding to reviews

Responding to customers who post about a store and its service shows a retailer cares about his reputation whether the feedback is positive or negative. Many industry groups and manufacturers offer pointers to help dealers address what is said about them on the web.

Flooring America’s internal program for members alerts them to reviews and reminds them to respond. “If a customer had a less-than-favorable experience there should be an answer/response from the store owner underneath the review,” Chiera said. Without an internal system to help with reviews, “unless someone is actively going in and monitoring those reviews [on sites like Google and Facebook] they might live out there for some time. It’s not good to [ignore] customers.”

No matter how bad a review, experts stress deleting it is out of the question. “Remove ‘delete’ and ‘ignore’ from your vocabulary—it is never good to do either,” Surratt explained. “If a consumer is abusive or slanderous that’s another conversation. But if you have a person who is reaching out for help with an issue you need to respond as soon as possible. Give a [representative’s] name and direct contact information. Apologize for the inconvenience and take the conversation offline. Get the details but make sure all the frustrations come out outside of a public forum. If you reach a resolution, ask the consumer to go back to her review and talk about her positive experience.”

Shaw’s Hodge believes remaining “authentic” means you cannot manipulate the review process, which includes deleting negative feedback. “You have to be transparent. You can take a displeased customer and make her feel good about the outcome—that’s something she will never forget.”

Jacobs reminds dealers to respond to reviews as soon as possible; something “less flattering” requires “a little more involvement to make sure we are crafting an appropriate response to the customer as well as addressing the customer concerns directly wherever possible.”

The steps for addressing a negative review as recommended by Carpet One are as follows:

  1. Read the review thoroughly and then conduct research to understand the issue.
  2. If possible, address the issue offline and personally with the customer. Offer contact information in the public response to have them contact you.
  3. Be sincere, positive and concise in your response. Don’t be negative or defensive.
  4. Post the response after ensuring it is concise, clear, positive and grammatically correct.
  5. Follow up: Make good on any resolution discussed with the customer.
  6. Once and only if resolved: Ask the reviewer to follow up her review or complaint with a positive comment or edited review so others know the issue was resolved.
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What happens in Vegas shouldn’t stay in Vegas

by Celia Payne

Las Vegas—Surfaces 2012 presented the opportunity to shine—even brighter than the Vegas strip. The successful protagonists at the show know you must set yourself apart among a sea of introductions. Continue reading What happens in Vegas shouldn’t stay in Vegas