At the start of 2005, EPLF asked the Düsseldorf Market Research Institute, to conduct a market study to investigate the purchasing habits of laminate flooring end users. The results are now available, and they confirm that end users have a positive image of the product. Laminate flooring is perceived as aesthetic, tough, easy to clean, simple to install and comparatively durable, and it is seen to offer a good price/performance ratio. Sometimes end users criticize noise which maybe generated when walking across the floor and also the environmental impact (whether or not this criticism is justified). In actual fact, there is little room for improvement. Laminate flooring is a well-engineered, environmentally-friendly product, but the industry association will have to take these issues into consideration when they formulate their future communications strategy.
The goal of the study was to obtain reliable market data which can be used to optimize the marketing activities of member companies and the industry association. The decision was made to conduct a qualitative market study which would provide a psychological market analysis of buyer motivation and image perception. 80 persons in groups of 10 who had purchased flooring during the past six months or who planned to make a purchase in the near future were surveyed. The male/female split was 50/50. Middle-class persons were selected for the survey, and they were divided into a 40+ age group and an under forty group. Half had already purchased laminate flooring or had decided to do so, and the other half had not. The study was conducted in Germany, which is the largest market in Europe. In addition to finding out why persons decided to purchase laminate flooring, the market researchers also wanted to identify the reasons why others chose not to buy the product.
As a general rule, persons interested in purchasing flooring are willing to consider all of the alternatives. For persons who have purchased or are planning to purchase laminate flooring, this product is naturally at the top of the list followed by tiles and carpets. In the group that decided not to buy laminate flooring, parquet flooring is the most popular choice followed again by tiles and carpets, and solid flooring also appeared in the rankings with this group. The flooring decision is made jointly by husband and wife. Men tend to focus on the material, whereas women are more interested in aesthetics and visual appearance. Discussions with advisers, tradesmen, friends and acquaintances have an influence on the purchase decision. The opportunity to see installed flooring can also be a decisive factor.
Aesthetics and Durability at the Top of the Wish List
Aesthetics, durability, environmental impact and ease of cleaning are at the top of the wish list followed by hygiene, noise suppression and secure footing. Persons over 50 show an increased preference for noise suppression, heat insulation, secure footing and a non-slip surface. Compared to those who prefer other floor coverings, persons who purchase laminate flooring prefer to install the flooring themselves and repair defects. It is interesting to note that women prefer to have the same flooring throughout the house, whereas men are more inclined to consider a variety of products. With regard to “services”, referral to a qualified installer is at the top of the list, but floor cleaning and the “provision” of suitable equipment are also important. The market study shows that quality or environmental marks, for example the “CELQ mark” (Certified European Laminate Quality) or the German “Blue Angel” mark can promote consumer confidence and have a positive influence on the purchase decision. Consumers are aware of quality differences in the laminate flooring market, and they understand that you have to pay more for quality. This was not the case ten years ago, and the enhanced quality awareness which we see today is a reflection of the EPLF’s ongoing standards development activity to promote product quality and the association’s public relations activities which are targeted at consumers and the retail industry. The new consumer quality awareness will help support market pricing strategies, and this in turn will benefit the suppliers and distributors.
The member companies and the association believe that the market study provides a very useful basis for detailed analysis of consumer purchase motives and barriers, which can be used to develop and fine tune marketing strategies. A representative survey in the German market may follow, or EPLF may decide to look at other countries which are significant markets for laminate flooring producers. In any event, the current study will have an influence on the development of the association’s future communications strategy.
Verband der Europäischen Laminatfußbodenhersteller e.V.
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