March 13/20, 2017: Volume 31, Issue 20
By Ken Ryan
Everybody who follows the flooring industry knows the biggest trend impacting carpet is the growth of hard surfaces, which in many instances has forced flooring dealers to revamp their showrooms. However, there are other trends in carpet that are both surprising and noteworthy.
Executives and design experts offered their takes.
Focus on soft
For a time last year, the term “soft enough” was being bandied about by some carpet companies. But the notion that consumers would be OK with soft-enough carpet was beaten back by mills, chief among them Mohawk, which staked its claim to luxurious soft carpet.
Mohawk went out on the road with five brands of soft carpet in seven styles to 10 markets and spoke to more than 300 consumers. “First we asked them which was the softest? And four out of five selected SmartStrand Reserve over a leading soft nylon,” said Seth Arnold, vice president of residential marketing.
The takeaway from the survey: Astonishing softness immediately captures attention and conveys high quality.
Likewise, Shaw did its own research and concluded consumers are choosing carpet according to softness and luxury, style and design regardless of fiber type. “The consumer understands the benefits of upgrading to a better fiber like nylon, but she also knows the value and array of prices and styles in both PET and nylon fibers,” said Teresa Tran, carpet category manager, Shaw Floors.
Luanne Holloway, head of product development for Southwind Carpet, added, “The popular soft trend continues to grow as consumers want that feeling of luxurious comfort underfoot when it comes to their carpeting. This offers a sharp contrast to the hardness of wood and vinyl flooring.”
Within the soft trend, the Dixie Group is witnessing a trend toward soft pattern designs with less rigid patterns and blurred, brushstroke looks.
Smaller job sizes
There is less carpet being installed in homes today, and in many cases the bedroom is the last bastion for carpet within a home. However, a reduced carpet footprint is having an unintended consequence: It is driving consumers to invest in elevated styling and better goods. That’s according to Doug Jackson, vice president of marketing for Tuftex, who said the industry should expect to see more design oriented, fashion-forward purchases for this smaller footprint.
Modular carpet has long been the purview of the commercial market. However, carpet tile is starting to make inroads into the residential sector. Mike Sanderson, vice president of product marketing for Engineered Floors, cites several factors for this trend. “Ease of installation, preference for a modular look—particularly among younger, urban demographics—compatibility with hard surfaces throughout the home and the popularity of crossover Main Street styles. With the resurgence of small businesses and entrepreneurship, we’re seeing a growing trend in Main Street commercial applications.”
Trending strong this year are patterned multi-level cut loop and level cut loop products, according to Rodney Mauter, executive vice president of marketing for Lexmark, who said today’s consumer expects each room of her home to make a fashionable statement. “The depth, color and style of pattern carpet styles allow each consumer to create a remarkable room. The surprise for me this year is the use of multiple patterns in the same home. Lexmark utilizes the same colorways throughout many of our styles, which allows the end user to change patterns by room while using the same colorway. Creating depth and differentiation without having to repaint or change furniture—it’s an easy way to stand out.”
Ayme Sinclair, marketing director for Stanton Carpet, identified hot, new trends. “Patterns that are diffused, distressed, abstract and undefined, with mixtures of shiny yarns and textured effects with varying pile heights combined to create sculptured effects. The addition of bolder colors that create more diversity and colored neutrals combined with neutrals is another new trend.”
Wall-to-wall broadloom carpet may be down but that’s not to say consumers don’t want soft flooring solutions, especially in low-profile designs. “While we see these trends are resonating with all consumers, they are especially important to millennials, who are cost conscious but demand the highest quality, style and performance,” said Brian Warren, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Foss Manufacturing. “Low-profile soft flooring is also appealing to millennials with kids and pets, as they are looking to cover and protect a wood floor with a softer surface while maintaining a low-profile look.”
Debbie Houston, creative director, residential soft surface for Shaw Floors, said the increased connectivity of the digital age has given the designer unprecedented access to resources and information, enabling her to envision and customize her space. “Consumers want their homes to make a statement to the world about their unique personalities, and they use the floor as a blank canvas for building upon the desired look of a room.”