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Laminate: Latest on-trend looks designed to entice dealers

June 11/18, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 26

By Reginald Tucker  

 

All the excitement swirling around the LVT, WPC and rigid core craze is giving competing hard surface categories a run for their money. But laminate suppliers are not sitting idly by; many are fighting back against some of these trendy products by leveraging laminate flooring’s well-known aesthetic attributes.

“Laminate and other categories have been under pressure from LVT, WPC, SPC and probably another 10 versions of multi-layered plastic products,” said Derek Welbourn, CEO of Inhaus. “However, what we see is laminate holding its own and continuing to grow. The key reason is value. And when you start to add high-definition digital printing, textured surfaces and even embossed-in-register textures in different depths and gloss, the result is a highly compelling and exciting visual that other categories of flooring have trouble competing with laminate. What’s more, you can provide all of this at a competitive cost. The value is very exciting.”

Other industry observers agree laminate looks have been elevated to new heights.  “Laminate designs over the last couple of years have really evolved from what we’ve seen in years past,” said Adam Ward, senior director of wood and laminate, Mohawk Industries. “The level of realism you can get in a laminate product still beats what you see in other categories such as ceramic, LVT and rigid core products.”

In Mohawk’s case, Ward attributes the advances in laminate visuals to the design papers used—plus the four-color process the company utilizes in achieving realistic looks. “The level of pressing detail and registered embossing combined with our in-house design really takes it to another level,” he explained. “It’s why we position the category as RevWood over laminate because the things we do from a visual perspective combined with our waterproof story. It has really elevated the category over some of those other imitations you see on the market.”

Mohawk’s top-selling laminate lines include: Antique Craft, a 9½-inch-wide x

7-foot-long plank that plays on the growth of the wider/longer trend in hardwood. Another big mover is the Elderwood collection, a 7½-inch-wide product that replicates a sawn-face oak look. Colossia, a big seller in Mohawk’s Quick-Step line, also plays to the longer/wider craze, offering what Ward calls a “nice urban look” in a variety of fashion-forward colors.

“With Antique Craft we offer a very realistic design and texture combined with beveling for that ultra-wide plank look,” Ward said. “This is a look that would be much more expensive in a true hardwood product. It has really resonated with customers.”

Other major suppliers are also stepping up their game in the aesthetic department. CFL Flooring, for instance, cites growing interest in its signature Atroguard laminate line as a result of the investments the company has made in technology. “From a design standpoint, Atroguard puts a tremendous amount of effort in developing in-house stunning design visuals, using the specifics of laminate to really bring out something special,” said Barron Frith, president, Atroguard North America. “That includes playing around with varying lengths or random widths within one box or developing designs from different wood species used within a particular product.”

The structure of the surface is also key to developing realistic, eye-catching visuals, Frith noted. Laminate, he said, has the advantage of being able to make much deeper textures than resilient categories, including handscraped or embossed-in-register real wood surface structure. “Our biggest advantage is the number of unique visuals we offer within a given floor, making it very realistic and hard to see repeats once the floor is installed as opposed to vinyl or WPC floors for which this is technically more difficult to achieve.”

Improved visual characteristics are also driving sales of Shaw Floors-branded laminate. Among its most popular laminate collections are Pinnacle Port and Designer Mix. Pinnacle Port, which features light scraping to convey a natural texture, combines the beauty of wood visuals with the company’s Repel water-resist technology. Another standout product is Alloy, a sophisticated, gray-tone wood look. “Its on-trend design and three-color visual variation, combined with the features of our Designer Mix product line, make it a standout in laminate,” said Drew Hash, vice president of hard surface portfolio management. “Retailers love that both collections give consumers eye-catching visuals and lasting durability.”

Designer Mix, which boasts 12mm planks and embossed-in-register visuals, is part of Shaw Floors’ Mixed Width collection. The line, according to Hash, offers consumers three variations of plank widths in a single box, thereby allowing them to design the overall look of their spaces for a personalized touch.

Just like the real thing

It should come as no surprise that many of the top-selling laminate lines are replications of real wood floors. Case in point is Mannington’s award-winning Restoration collection, which generated double-digit sales increases last year, according to Dan Natkin, vice president of hardwood and laminate. Among the most popular visuals in the line, he noted, are Arcadia, Hillside Hickory and Fairhaven. “All are light rustic visuals with phenomenal realism.”

Looking north across the U.S. border, Satin Flooring is seeing impressive sales of lines such as terra—hands down its best-selling pattern across all regions, according to Dennis Mohn, U.S. director of sales. He also cited popular tones such as warm gray, mystic gray and driftwood.

To render these realistic wood tones, Satin Flooring employs high-tech embossing techniques. “We offer on-trend colors, including tried-and-true hues like terra, with sought-after finishes,” Mohn explained. “Authentic embossed features contrasting depths and the pores follow the grain of the decor, meaning they flawlessly mimic the character of natural wood.”

Laminates’ improved visuals, as it turns out, do more than dazzle consumers. They also pave the way for retailers to trade up consumers to better-performing, higher-margin items. “What we’ve been able to do with these new products is bring retailers back to the laminate category where it might not have necessarily been there in years past,” Mohawk’s Ward said. “Our RevWood products are really giving retailers a reason to move the customer up from a cheaper laminate they may have looked at in the past.”

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Mohawk’s paradigm shift

Change in laminate brand marketing strategy reflects product’s evolution

February 5/12, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 17

By Reginald Tucker

 

After conducting extensive consumer research, Mohawk has decided to dramatically alter the way it markets its laminate flooring product offerings at retail. In a nutshell, laminate products previously positioned under the “laminate” banner will now be labeled RevWood—although the core construction of the product has not changed. Ditto for the company’s Quick-Step division, which will now market its laminate lines under the NatureTEK banner in a separate marketing initiative.

FCNews looks at the specifics of the respective changes and enhancements:

Same but different
With LVT, WPC and rigid core flooring continuing to nip at laminates’ heels, Mohawk is exploring ways to keep some of the focus on laminate. How? By not referring to the category—which is still based on traditional HDF core plus melamine-infused designer paper construction. The move, according to the company, is designed to make consumers rethink the hardwood category.

“RevWood is for people who desire the beauty of wood floors without compromising performance,” said Gary Lanser, president, Mohawk hardwood and laminate. “The vintage allure and incredible hardwood realism of RevWood Plus looks and stays gorgeous no matter what your family throws at it.”

All in the messaging
Mohawk laminate marketing and promotional collateral, including merchandisers and displays, will now carry the header: “RevWood Plus: Wood Without Compromise.” According to Mohawk, this is designed to correlate to the way some consumers view laminate flooring today.

“In a study we conducted, consumers ranked RevWood and TrueTEK [the new Quick-Step laminate brand] right up there with real wood,” Lanser stated. “In the consumer’s mind, solid wood flooring is still the gold standard, but now you have all these other hybrid products crossing lines. The fact is, whether it’s our real wood products vs. NatureTEK, once it goes down, the customer has no idea which one is real wood vs. a laminate. It’s hard to differentiate just by sight.”

Takes a licking…
According to Lanser, RevWood planks offer impressive, reliable durability that resists stains, scratches and dents and is 100% waterproof. That means spills, accidents and tracked-in stain-makers are kept on the surface for quick, easy cleanup thanks to Uniclic MultiFit technology. RevWood Plus also features All Pet Protection & Warranty covering all pets, all accidents, all the time.

“As a leader in the flooring industry, retailers can trust Mohawk to take our products to the next level in the coming years,” said Karen Mendelsohn, senior vice president of marketing.

 

What’s in a name?
In much the same way that Mohawk-branded laminate flooring is taking on a new identity, the company’s Quick-Step-branded laminate product

s are undergoing a big change. Henceforth, Quick-Step laminate offerings will now fall under the NatureTEK banner. (This is in keeping with the division’s decision to promote its previous Q-Wood offerings as TrueTEK products, and its luxury vinyl products—launched in 2016—as EnduraTEK (formerly Quick-Step LVF).

Billed as the new face of performance in flooring, Quick-Step TEK is built for people with active lifestyles. “From resilient to laminate to engineered hardwood, we have TEK covered,” Lanser said. “Our TEK products are a leap forward in providing customers simplicity in their hard surface purchase journeys along with bringing them what they want.”

Form plus function
Mohawk executives are confident in the ability of its new laminate offerings to not only stand the test of time but also dazzle consumers via realistic visuals.

Quick-Step’s NatureTEK Plus line, which features a waterproof laminate wood construction, combines Mohawk’s patented Uniclic Locking System, GenuEdge beveled technology and innovative HydroSeal coating. So NatureTEK Plus withstands everyday spills and wet mopping while also resisting fading, scratches and stains.

“In 10 years we expect these floors will look the same as they did when they were first installed,” Lanser stated. “The realism of NatureTEK and RevWoods is incredible, and the moisture resistance is incredible. We’ve put down millions of square feet of product; when there are spills the water doesn’t leak through. We’ve done a lot of real-world testing that bears this out.”

First impressions
Distributors on hand for the official rollout of the NatureTEK at Surfaces 2018 were impressed with the realism of the visuals as well as they performance story. They also embraced the new marketing strategy.

“This is good stuff,” said Keith Slobodien, president, Apollo Distributing, a top 20 wholesaler. “Laminate has become secondary to wood in terms of prestige and waterproof capabilities. By focusing on TEK—whether it’s vinyl, wood or laminate—it’s probably a better overall product positioning.”