It’s that time of year for me to get out my crystal ball and share what I think will be the big trends for building materials marketing in 2014. Trends can either be opportunities or threats to building material marketers. They are opportunities for those who take advantage and threats for those who just keep on, keepin’ on.
1. Big Boxes – Will continue to ramp up their online efforts in an effort to hold off Amazon. Anything you can do to help them improve their online efforts is a good idea. They probably won’t listen but you should still serve it up.
They will continue to attempt to devalue brands. They will use your brand if it helps them to draw traffic with the goal of switching customers to one of their more profitable private label brands. You need to take steps to defend your brand or watch it lose value.
Overall big boxes won’t change too much. They are too big and worried about Wall Street to do anything dramatic.
2. Commercial Building Products – Design Build will continue to grow. In case you hadn’t noticed almost every commercial building contractor has added the words “Design Build” to their company name. For most buildings, it just makes sense. If you sell commercial building products, you need to get very involved in the world of design build.
Most design build is based on local relationships. As you probably don’t have enough sales people to cover local opportunities, you need to work with your local contractors. Let them know you are committed to design build and support them with instantaneous responses to their requests for pricing and product information.
Consider joining the Design Build Institute of America and attending their trade show.
I am also surprised how few manufacturers call themselves Design Build specialists like their contractor customers. I think this is another case of the market being ahead of building material manufacturers.
Manufacturers should position themselves as Design Build experts and proclaim it on their websites and trade show booths.
3. Green Building – Will continue to grow and get more technical. You need to be able to let the green audience know the ingredients and manufacturing processes used in your products. It’s no longer good enough to have a product that performs well at a fair price. If your product is made with, even the smallest amount of what they perceive to be a harmful ingredient, they will go out their way to find an alternative. Even if it costs more.
There will continue to be push back to LEED but green will continue to grow so get more involved.
4. Residential Housing – Traditional single-family housing will continue to grow and it will continue to segment. You can continue to look at builders and homes as a single entity but I believe you will be more successful if you take a more nuanced approach.
When I think of residential housing, I think of the following segments and how they each have their own needs.
- Traditional single family “married”
- Single head of household
- Aging in place
- Single-family house rental
- Multifamily own
- Multifamily rental
- Urban vs. Suburban
- Geographic differences
The building product companies who segment their targets based on their product benefits will reduce their competition and make price less important. Otherwise, you run the risk of throwing more cost at this growing market and accomplishing nothing more than lower margins.
5. Social Media – will continue to grow at a snail’s pace by building material manufacturers. They will continue to see it as something to be afraid of or as free media for them to promote their products. This creates a huge competitive advantage for those companies who fully embrace social media and use it correctly.
Use these trends to outperform the Building Materials market in 2014
Lets see how many of you will be more than an order taker for big boxes, commit to Design Build, get even Greener, take a more granular look at residential housing and use social media. I predict that the ones who do will outperform the ones who don’t.
What trends do you see moving your building materials business forward in 2014?