New types of stone do not jeopardize the established ones; on the contrary, they attract attention to the sector

Established stone varieties from the companies’ own quarries whose CEO we spoke with. Clockwise, starting top left: Granite Nero Assoluto, Marmi Ghirardi, Italy; Larvikite Lundhs Royal, Lundhs, Norway; Limestone Pietra del Mare, <a href="https://www.stone-ideas.com/93240/limestone-pietra-del-mare-grassi-pietre/"target="_blank">Grassi Pietre</a>, Italy; Marble Bianco Polaris, Nordia Marble, Greece.

Brazil is constantly presenting new products at trade fairs, as are Turkey and Iran, and Africa is expected to do so soon

New natural stone varieties are constantly coming onto the market, mostly distinguished by unusual color tones and strong veins in the stone. First and foremost is Brazil, which has an almost inexhaustible geodiversity, Turkey has also been regularly coming out with new marble for some years now, and Iran will be marketing new onyxes in the future. Last but not least, new quarries are being opened up in sub-Saharan Africa.

The question that interests us is: what is the demand for such new varieties and how does this affect the demand for established stone brands?

We asked around at the trade fair in Xiamen. The result was clear: the new ones have no negative impact on the old ones, rather the opposite. And the demand for the new ones seems to come from a separate market segment, which is rather small.

Stefano Ghirardi, CEO of the Italian company Marmi Ghirardi, describes the customer demand for new stones metaphorically: “There are always people who have an appetite for something new.“ His company celebrated its 85th anniversary last year and has traditionally been on the market with a specific range of natural stone.

In his opinion, the influx of new stone products is just the norm, which is also the case in other sectors.

However: “At the moment, customers are focusing more on reliability and quality again,“ he has observed. After the pandemic, buyers are once again more interested in varieties whose characteristics they know and also in suppliers whose work they trust.

In any case, it should be noted that many new stones do not survive more than one trade fair. At their first appearance, they are just a test balloon to see whether customers are interested at all.

But even the unsuccessful varieties have an effect on the sector, and a positive one at that, according to the results of our survey.

“New varieties attract attention,“ states Thor-Anders Lundh, CEO of the Norwegian company Lundhs. His company has the distinctive Larvikite varieties, whose appearance attracts attention even without novelties.

“But new varieties are what the press wants,“ Lundhs states matter-of-factly.

Francesco Grassi from the Italian company Grassi Pietre has a similarly calm response to the topic. His company, which has been in the hands of one family for generations, extracts and processes Vicenca limestone.

He points out the high risk associated with new varieties: “It takes several years just to get a license, and then there are the costs of developing the quarry site.“

In any case, varieties in the colorful and richly textured category are unlikely to meet with huge demand. “The market for this is more of a niche market,“ says Andreas Alt, CEO of the Greek company Nordia Marble. The company has been quarrying white marble near Thessaloniki for 60 years.

Alt directs our gaze in a new direction: if new varieties are more likely to establish themselves as accents in interior architecture or design, are stone trade fairs the right launch pad for them?

Stefano Ghirardi had already hinted at this aspect: “To sell such varieties, you have to have contacts with interior designers and creative people,“ he said in an aside.

However, it is not only private individuals with an interest in very individual homes who are being considered as a target group for new varieties.

Boutiques of exclusive product brands also always need materials for a special decor. Stones that customers cannot get enough of help with this.

We had already looked at the renewal cycles for retail spaces in 2023 when the “Ladenmonitor 2023″ (Shop Monitor) study was presented at the Euroshop trade fair in Düsseldorf, Germany. The study cited around nine years as the average time between complete refurbishments in shops, less in boutiques.

The question remains: can a country establish itself with a profile as THE specialist for novelties and make the permanent supply of new varieties its trademark?

This is generally the case in the textile industry, which has invented seasonal fashions and annual trends for this purpose.

However, it is questionable whether, for example, a marble spring collection or a quartzite fall collection are conceivable. The costs are high, the returns low in the short term, and natural stone has durability as one of its brand cores.

Ghirardi Stone Contractor

Lundhs

Grassi Pietre

Nordia Marble

(17.05.2024, USA: 05.17.2024)