Each year in May, laminate flooring manufacturers affiliated to the EPLF and their suppliers assemble for the Association’s Ordinary Members’ Conference. This time, the event took place in the Bavarian town of Thansau at the invitation of Schattdecor AG. Owner Walter Schatt didn’t pass up the opportunity to show EPLF members around the company’s new administration building and logistics center, both of which had only recently been commissioned.
Top of the agenda currently is the Association’s communication with end-users and the trade public, alongside the drum sound standard for laminate flooring and the continuous monitoring of markets. After the EPLF’s new image brochure was well-received by the trade and consumers, the Association is planning a comic strip entitled "From the forest to the fireside", which graphically traces the journey of a laminate flooring through its production cycle. The aim behind this is to convey the environmentally-friendly nature of laminate floorings in an entertaining and transparent manner. A 2005 market survey indicated that this issue is perceived by end-users to be different to the reality. A technical data sheet is to be issued parallel to this to highlight the environment-related characteristics from the point of view of an expert.
The Association's participation at "contractworld" in Hanover was aimed at targeting architects and planners, in order to create interest in the product in the property sector. Feedback from the event was thoroughly positive, with nearly 2,000 show visitors taking the opportunity to call in and take a look at the EPLF stand at the center of Hall 4 and to find out about member companies' products. As a result, the Marketing and Image Working Group has decided to repeat the project in 2008. However, at the heart of the EPLF’s show presentation will be fewer individual decors representing complete case studies which will demonstrate how laminate flooring is used successfully in property development.
An assessment of the EPLF’s internal sales figures across the Association for the first two quarters of 2007 provides a positive indicator for results over the whole of the current fiscal year. Particularly pleasing is the on-going development of Western European key markets and Eastern European growth markets. Growth trends have also been identified in South America.
As well as looking at the Association’s current outcomes, the emphasis at EPLF conferences is as ever to draw on expert information for the benefit of member companies. And so Thansau received two presentations, which provided businesses with fascinating insights for their marketing activities. Helmut Bähr, partner at Weissmann & Cie business consultants based in Nuremburg, delivered an absorbing lecture entitled “Winners are different – how to escape the strategy trap”. The thrust of his presentation was “Be different or die!” He laid out succinctly how companies have developed their own individual strategies beyond the mainstream and in doing so have become successful. Examples include Aldi, Deichmann, H&M, Starbucks, eBay and a whole host more.
“Consumer types in Europe” was the central topic of a presentation by Peter Bittner, Division Manager at GFK Living – Gesellschaft für Konsumforschung, based in Nuremburg. He delivered a detailed picture of the end-user in eight European countries, e.g. according to age and purchasing power, financial situation and job security, domestic situation, lifestyle attitudes, etc. It transpires that the Dutch consider their financial situation currently to be the best and a third of Spaniards declared that they use their home practically only for sleeping.
Fresh input for the companies’ and the Association’s marketing efforts, which might well prove its worth by the next Members' Conference in May 2008. This takes place in the Austrian town of Kitzbühl at the invitation of Egger.