Originally written by Amy Rush-Imber, Floor Covering Weekly
[Omaha, Neb.] Already a Stainmaster Flooring Center, Nebraska Furniture Mart (NFM), based here, decided it was time to re-energize the Stainmaster brand and bring some excitement to the retail floor that addresses today’s consumer needs.
The endeavor, which includes every touchpoint from new imagery and signage, digital components and social media influencers, is in concert with Stainmaster leadership. According to NFM’s director of flooring Dave Chambers, the retailer and Stainmaster are working on this project hand-in-hand.
“We wanted to inject new life into the partnership and work better together
than we have in the past — put more energy and focus into each other and
see what we can do to grow the branded nylon business within each one of
the markets we are in,” he explained. As a Stainmaster Flooring Center, NFM
merchandises Stainmaster Nylon, Live Well and Pet Protect carpet along with
some Stainmaster hard surface.
While the two companies have been doing business together for many years, past business, said Chambers, was greater than the percent of yards sold going into 2019. But that’s all changing.
“We were having some years of decline unfortunately,” he offered. “This
year, since we partnered on several different strategies, we’ve seen those
numbers turn around. Earlier this year, we had the largest Stainmaster
month we’ve had in the last three years. We’ve turned it around
specifically in the last five months and sales are surging right now and we
want to capitalize on that — I’m excited to see where it goes.”
Even in the wake of Stainmaster’s announcement to enhance its partnership with Lowe’s, Chambers believes the partnership and strategy developed between Stainmaster and NFM will yield great things.
“We made a decision — before the Lowe’s announcement — that we would re-energize the partnership and re-think some of the strategies and take a stab at changing the showroom concept. In our markets, Lowe’s owns a smaller percentage of the market versus NFM. We have a more robust product offering with professional and educated salespeople that can talk about the products, so the consumer understands what they are getting. NFM is not overly concerned about Lowes and their new flooring strategy,” he asserted.
Every step of the way, NFM and Stainmaster are pulling their creative juices to create a selling floor unlike any other. “Our marketing team and theirs are working on developing campaigns together for driving business to our stores,” said Chambers, adding that the last 60 to 90 days have been a true partnership.
Chambers said that the two companies challenged themselves to change the consumer shopping experience. Something, he said, that hasn’t been done for decades.
“We are working on this together from a new merchandising concept to
marketing and messages being delivered,” Chambers explained. “And then,
there is the digital [aspect.] We are coming together and throwing ideas
out on what we can do from video shoots in-store to bringing influencers
together into our stores. It speaks volumes for trying to go in and enhance
the showroom, the customer experience and marketing strategy.”
The strategy, indeed, is about enhancing the consumer journey for shopping for carpet confirmed Brook Brown, vice president, Stainmaster. “As consumer expectations are evolving in other categories beyond flooring, we think there is an opportunity for the consumer experience in flooring,” she said, adding that the Stainmaster brand rolled out the new simplified brand architecture for specialty in early 2019.
“As the No. 1 brand in flooring, we felt it’s part of our obligation to the consumer to support retailers in this effort,” Brown continued. “Dave (Chambers) is really energized thinking about the consumer experiences so, it’s a natural area of collaboration for us. We may not completely overhaul things but incrementally evolve them as the consumer needs.” It’s something, she said, that Stainmaster has made investments in.
“What they’ve done is leverage the thing we do well — which is build meaningful content that helps engage and persuade the consumer — and taking their ability to reach the consumer. It has come together with very positive results.”
--Brook Brown, Stainmaster
What’s the difference?
Starting with the Omaha location, NFM is undergoing major changes. “We are updating the showrooms with new signage, new marketing messages geared around Stainmaster and the Stainmaster Flooring Center advantage,” Chambers described. “We are changing a lot of marketing and signage to really point out some of the benefits behind Stainmaster Nylon and being a Stainmaster Flooring Center.”
In fact, a big part of the message is around Stainmaster’s Platinum Promise — if it stains, they replace it. “That is not something consumers will be able to miss or its value proposition,” noted Brown.
She pointed to other changes that won’t go unnoticed. “Right out of the gate, consumers will see updated Stainmaster brand imagery in the Omaha locations. When the consumer comes to the store, they are looking for style and design and imagery supports that. With these updates, they’ll know they came to the right place.”
With the customer experience top-of-mind, imagery was created to reflect real life, described Brown. “You’ll see kids, families, pets, stains. One thing we are doing with imagery is trying to make it more reflective of a home environment; people really could see this every day in their own homes.” And, she emphasized, it features that Platinum Promise which gives the retail sales associate a reason to believe in the value proposition.
NFM and Stainmaster aren’t stopping at signage and displays but are incorporating relevant voices to the consumer shopping journey — influencers. “We believe they’re going to drive traffic into the stores. And today, people really are consuming marketing in a different way. We are not the only ones thinking about that but we’re considering how consumers are looking for messaging and validation from different places and different ways and we think influencers a big part of that,” said Brown.
Chambers added that they are shooting video to be used in advertising, on social platforms and in the store. “We feel we’ve got some of best-looking showrooms across the country.”
Rolling it out
The new and improved Stainmaster rollout will happen in Omaha first — Kansas City next. “While we have always had the best showrooms, we think the improved shopping experience will have a big impact in our Kansas City store where we are still bringing in significant numbers of new customers each year despite opening 15 years ago,” offered Chambers.
By next spring, the marketing pieces will have come together and some of the showroom updates will be done. The program, Chambers said, will hit next spring in a big way. The new lit graphic demos are being installed shortly.