Visibility for Canada’s flooring sector

Kerry Knudsen

I LOVE THE NEW YEAR.

It’s like a kid opening the world’s biggest present. What could it be? What does it hold? It could be anything. And I recall adages: plan for the worst but hope for the best; life is what happens to you while you’re making plans; you can plan plans, but you can’t plan results. All good ideas.

Another good idea was our Canada Night event at The International Surface Event (TISE) four years ago. The idea was to get Canadians together for an hour or two in one spot, just to show the Americans, the suppliers and the industry how big a buying group we really are. We are accustomed to fading into the wallpaper at international events, just because we don’t stand out in terms of style or attitude. Thank goodness. But it’s a problem for suppliers when they can’t segment the market and some unethical marketing types will lump Canadians in with Americans so they can present a bigger target to their supervisors.

The concept of test marketing is an interesting one, and one seldom covered. Basically, a seller markets a new product into an isolated, controlled environment for the purpose of getting a reliable read on market response. Often, test markets will be identified in the Prairies or in America’s Upper Midwest because the populations are still relatively isolated, the education levels are high and their social values are relatively stable and uniform.

Because test markets are under scrutiny, they also tend to come under care, so they get access to advanced ideas quickly, leaving questions in the minds of the urbanites as to how those people “out there” get access to products first. Canada, itself, is a kind of test market, but it’s bifurcated to include another unique market relative to the States. That is, we are much more Eurocentric in our consumer tastes and vision.

These are just a few points to illustrate that it is important for marketers to differentiate Canadians from just-plain-old Americans, and trade shows are one place to do that. Hence, Canada Night.

Each of you is invited to join me and the staff of Coverings magazine at the Border Grill in the Mandalay Bay, just outside the entrance to TISE. Beer, canapes and soft drinks are on us, and we are anxious to hear from you what you think we can do better as a magazine. So I said free beer and food, and I meant it. No tricks. It is what it is. It’s Canada Night at TISE, put on by Coverings magazine with help from TISE and from sponsors Custom Building Products and Tarkett, as of press time.

It is necessary that you register. Las Vegas fire rules limit us to 100 people, and the past few events have had people go wanting because they were not on the list and we were at capacity. If your name is on the list and you have your badge, you’re in.

Back to the future, we mentioned in the October issue that we saw a problem coming in the stock markets, and we are sad to see we were even more accurate than we thought. At this moment, things look tough for the economy, despite great building numbers through 2018.

We still think it is very important to look behind the curtain on this one. The mainstream media, who I am growing to trust even less every day, is reporting the cause of the downturn in stocks in the States as being interest rate fears, Brexit fears and other fears. I suppose this can be true. Fears can drive markets.

However, Facebook, Google, Snapchat and Instagram remain in the news on a daily basis. Things are not good in tech. Not at all. And we have written a lot about the dangers in “digital.”

We believe the market will recover well in the “real” world of products and services. However, the tech drain will affect techies’ abilities to buy, so it’s not good.

I suggest we hope for the best and plan for the worst and life will happen while we do it. We can review our results in Vegas. C U there, as the techies say.

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