In many parts of our life we have a strong desire for the best. This desire for the best has never been part of building materials. People settle for building products that are just good enough.
Building materials should stop settling for being just good enough.
Golfers want the best clubs.
Photography enthusiasts long for the best Nikon or Canon.
Beer and wine drinkers frequently want, the best
Cyclists now frequently spend up to $20,000 in their quest to have the best bike.
With cars the best may mean, the fastest or most energy efficient or luxurious.
And people love to tell everyone about their “Best” new product.
With this strong desire to have the best in many areas of our life, why hasn’t this same desire translated to building materials? With the amount of time we spend in homes and buildings you would think there would be a strong desire to have the best.
There are a few areas where the best applies in the building industry. Appliances and bath fixtures are two products where some people desire the best and they are branded.
Another area where people desire the best is with a category of product such as a granite countertop, The problem with this type of best is that there usually is no branding, it’s just a product.
The final type of best in building materials is the best system. An example of the best system is an energy efficient home or building. You will hear the architect, builder or owner talk about how energy efficient their building is. What you won’t hear them mention is a product brand. They will tell you how they have the best HVAC system and will quote you the stats. What you won’t hear them say is we have a Trane system, for example.
How do products become desired and recognized as the best?
1. They believe they are the best. Too frequently I hear building material manufacturers talk about how their product is just as good as the competition. They need to believe that theirs is the best.
2. They believe there is a market for the best. Building material manufacturers tend to focus on “good enough” products with the highest volume instead of the highest profit margin. They don’t think there is a market for the best.
3. They give the people a reason to want the best. While I always preach that manufacturers should focus on the channel, there is an opportunity to help the channel sell beyond “good enough” and promote the best.
Aiming to be the best isn’t for every building material manufacturer but I think there is an opportunity for one manufacturer to position themselves as the best in each category. Even a volume based manufacturer can offer a line of Best in Class products that will elevate the image of all of their products.
Manufacturers of performance oriented building products that are hidden behind the walls of a building think no one cares. I disagree, I think that the one who positions themselves as the best, is more expensive and gives people a clear understanding of why they are the best, will win a smaller but profitable share of the market.