Carpet was around 75% of the flooring market from 1965-1995 but has steadily fallen since that time. Part of the reason is that there have been more and more flooring options introduced over time such as laminate, newer vinyl floors, bamboo flooring, tile and stone becoming more affordable and many more new items.
However, carpet wasn’t just a victim of more selection some of the problems with carpet market share are linked to carpet manufacturing itself. There became so many choices. Choices that flooring dudes call “me too” items that consumers were more or less not impressed with carpet options in general.
Additionally brands like stainmaster and others promised incredible things about durability which started out to be mostly true, but they allowed their brand to be put on cheaper and cheaper products overtime which didn’t really deliver what the customers expected from those brand names over time. In many ways this failure to deliver on consumer expectations caused the consumer to stop caring about these benefits because they were less and less believable.
Today carpeting has had a bit of a renaissance due in part to the global economy. Carpet in terms of total cost is still one of the most affordable options as compared to hard surface flooring choices like hardwood floors or laminate flooring. So by default carpet has jumped a bit because people can’t afford what they really want: Hardwood, Laminate, Cork or Bamboo Flooring.
But we have to give credit where credit is due – there have been some innovations in carpet that are more exciting. Some of the new softer fibers, which are STILL durable are themselves a paradox. You get a soft touch on your carpeting, but long lasting as well. This is a REAL tangible value to consumers. How long will it be before the brands start over promising and allowing the technology on cheap products which can’t deliver on the promise?
Back on the upside patterned tufting techniques combined with advancements in fiber technology have created new and unique looks that may lead consumers, designers, architects and builders back to the category after all.
Overall it is hard to imagine carpet becoming aspirational, but there are niches like wool carpet, patterned carpet, carpet tiles and others that could become something that is really important going forward.
This could be a ray of optimism for the carpet business, but there is reason now for optimism. Carpet guys can start to think about the possibility reclaim their past glory and more importantly the past market share.