The complete program at Xiamen Stone Fair 2023 (June 05 – 08)
In a presentation at the Xiamen Stone Fair 2023, Peter Becker, Editor-in-Chief of Stone-Ideas.com, will report on the arguments companies in the West use to promote their stones to consumers, i.e.: with which they convince private individuals as well as architects and interior designers to opt for marble, granite, etc.
The reason for the topic is that the Chinese government with its current five-year plan wants to increase private consumption of high-quality and environmentally friendly products. Guidelines of the new policy are the focus on quality and a ‘green’ consumption (see link at the bottom of this page), we had written in our report about it, and the Chinese association China Stone Material Association (CSMA) and the fair invited us to the lecture.
One aspect: natural stone is a material with special temporal aspects. In marketing, it is therefore often emphasized that it is millions of years old and that it also has a long service life in use – whether these arguments are more than folklore, however, and whether they really bring the consumer to the stone at the moment of the purchase decision, seems to us more than questionable.
However: the Covid pandemic has shown that another temporal aspect actually guides the buyer’s decision: it is the fact that stone is durable also in terms of value, so that once installed in a bathroom or kitchen, etc., it permanently retains its value and that this is transferred to the property.
In financial terms, spending money on natural stone does not incur costs (that you do not get back), but is an investment (that pays off). The consideration first appeared 2016 in the magazine “The Cutting Edge“ published by what was then the Marble Institute of America (now the Natural Stone Institute).
For middle-market consumers worldwide, this temporal feature of stone is a major selling point. This was demonstrated by the Covid pandemic, when the demand for natural stone to modernize houses and apartments grew enormously. The Natural Stone Institute wrote in the September/October 2020 issue: “It appears that after a few moments of fear in March and April, the average homeowner has decided to put their money to work in their own backyard.”
Incidentally, the argument of value retention is particularly valid in times of inflation.
Speaking of buyer surveys: In the meantime, there are some surveys from Germany, Sweden and most recently also from Italy on what consumers expect from natural stone.
In the first place for them, as was to be expected, is the beauty of the material and its special charm.
What often prevents potential buyers from opting for stone, on the other hand, is the price. This was also to be expected – in sales talks, the reference to value retention (see above) can therefore be a resounding argument.
Strongly to the disadvantage of natural stone, however, is the uncertainty about maintenance, according to the findings of one of the consumer surveys. It shows that the stone sector in the past years here a large information deficit let run up.
On the other hand, one can attest however up-to-date (nearly) all federations and companies world-wide that they recognized the trend of the time and prove the “green“ strengths of the natural stone by scientific analyses such as the CO2 footprint or EPDs (Environmental Product Declarations).
So far, so good, however: how can it be then that in public and political discussions about environmentally friendly building materials, wood is always mentioned and sometimes even exotics such as clay or straw, but natural stone never? Claude Gargi, editor-in-chief of the French magazine Pierre Actual, had named the grievance for the first time in an editorial (April 2023).
What is the stone sector doing wrong here so far and what can it do better?
These and numerous other marketing aspects will be the subject of Peter Becker’s presentation at the Xiamen Stone Fair.
Title of the lecture: “How companies and associations in the West are directing consumer interest to natural stone”.
Time: Tuesday, June 06, 2023, 13.00 – 13.50
Venue: Forum Area, Hall W