Instead of addressing the middle class many natural stone Organizations are propagating opulent art
How can it be that the new competitors to natural stone, engineered stone and quartz composite materials, have conquered large shares of the market in only a few years? What are the companies with marble, granite & Co are doing wrong?
The answer is quickly found at Marmomac in Hall 1: there, Italy is marketing itself as the leading stone producer and propagates the Made in Italy brand. This means, plainly interpreted, that art and culture are part of everyday life, so stone, as in Hall 1 is subject to artistic production.
This marketing style is eagerly copied by most other natural stone associations, and that is the problem.
Note that we do not want to criticize Italy and its stone branch. Its production is successful as the figures show. And that’s all that matters.
We criticize how many Organizations blindly follow the Made in Italy branding.
The fact that Made in Italy targets the rich is fatal.
Two big countries show that marketing can work in other ways: the USA and China.
The American Natural Stone Institute (NSI) and its precursors, the Marble Institute (MIA) and Building Stone Institute (BSI), never undertook any artistic actions for marketing purposes.
But still – or as a result? The USA has the largest market world-wide for ambitious natural stone products.
China’s natural stone branch is currently still seeking the path to pursue in its marketing. The Xiamen Stone Fair took the lead and made a suggestion: At the „Stone Infinite“ show conservative sellable objects are the center of focus. The last exhibition at the fair in March 2019 was a big success.
Important, too, but also in line with marketing, is that an Organization keeps the focus on the target group.
In this sense the USA are, once again, a good example for seeking out growing markets – i.e. in the middle-class sector, not with the well-to-do. The run on natural stone began in the 1990’s, when the branch sold kitchen countertops to the average consumer.
This was not only good for turn-over. It also made the material prominent and popular. Effortlessly, markets for bathroom implementation, façades, terraces, etc. opened up. Since then, in the US, natural stone is a wide-spread symbol for elegance, natural beauty, and lifestyle and is also seen as a good investment of the dollar.
This has nothing whatsoever to do with art, particularly not with haughty productions.
Fatally, natural stone’s competitors are doing a much better job: marketing of engineered stone or quartz composites is conservative and cut out to fit the needs of the middle class.
So, their marketing message is simple: easy care and maintenance, material for a feeling of wellbeing, and suitable for beautiful homes. Remember, the competition didn’t gain its advantage with dumping prices.
And, while the competition-products all over the world are clamoring for a piece of the pie, the stone branch is hovering above with its crude ideas, like those of the stoners and is floating into Nirvana.
(15.11.2019, USA: 11.15.2019)