Professor Gerd Merke: Stone sector should point out that its material is „true, native and 100% natural“
Euroroc, the European umbrella organization of the national stone associations, has published its April report informing about its recent and coming activities. We give a short summary and put the complete pdf for download (see below):
„The competition that the stone sector is facing from materials like ceramic, artificial (engineered) stone etc is getting stronger every day,“ Euroroc General Secretary Professor Gerd Merke states. „In reaction, natural stone has to emphasize its emotional components in a stronger way than before.“
Merke’s observation has as background not only the growing number of competing materials but also their improving qualities: in their marketing is pointed out their easy-care and low maintenance which is crucial for many young buyers.
Apart from such functionality, one has to admit that these materials are always improving how they look like.
As an example for emotion as marketing tool, Merke mentions the Swiss watch and how these producers point out their craftmen’s know-how. For Marble, Granite & Co such qualities could be: „Stone is true, native and 100% natural,“ according to Merke.
Part of his conclusion is a confession: „For customers who only want functional items stone may not be the most attractive material.“ And: „In the future, we will have to do more marketing to sell our products.“
In other words: simply asserting that natural stone is the best/most beautiful/oldest… material is no more an argumentation strong enough to convince the customer.
Silica Dust is another topic in the report. Here, the European stone producers and related industries where under threat from the European Commission which wanted to transfer the strict USA-regulations to Europe. Yet about ten years ago in an agreement, Euroroc, other associations and the trade unions signed a commitment to monitor and document all cases of illnesses resulting from silica dust.
Meanwhile a large database has been established showing how this threat to health has significantly decreased in the last decade. The European Commission will be informed in a conference in Brussels on June 16, 2016.
Geographical Indication is continuously an important topic for the stone industry. It means protecting the name and the origin of products like Champagne only form the Champagne, Prosciutto di Parma or Bordeaux vine. Since some years, an initiative by the European Commission started the discussion how natural stone products (and ceramics, among others) can also attain this important protection.
A conference titled „ERA: The Protection of Geographical Indications Update on recent developments at international and EU levels” will be held in Trier, Germany from April 21 to 22, 2016 to bring together law experts specialized in the topic.
Stonechange 2016 („Stone Sector and Changing Trends”)
Stonechange 2016 („Stone Sector and Changing Trends”) is a Conference in Carrara from June 16 to 17, 2016. There will be discussed which changes the stone sector will face in the near future and which new trends will come up.
Topics are, among others: sector modernization, technical innovation, sustainability (environmental, economic and social), standardization; ethic conduct. The event is suported by the European Union.
Non Energy Extractive Industry Panel (NEEIP) Forum
The Non Energy Extractive Industry Panel (NEEIP) Forum will be held in Brussels on April 20, 2016. This working group with members from various mining associations will discuss how Europe can keep its quarries open in order to avoid being totally dependent from stone imports one day. The idea is to make optimum usage of European resources by establishing a „circular economy“ having sustainable production and recycling as key features.
The Euroroc General Assembly will come together in Zurich on April 14 and 15, 2016.
(30.03.2016, USA: 03.30.2016)