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by John Neugent, DUCHATEAU Brand Ambassador

“The more things change…”

Come on, you can finish that sentence.  It’s an old cliché’.   The more things change, the more they stay the same.

As I travel around the country, retailers are abuzz over the changes in consumer preference toward vinyl and synthetic flooring.

First, let me ask…why do people buy wood floors?  Answer: they love the look of wood.

Why do people buy stone floors and counters?  Answer: they love the look of stone.

Ok…why do people buy vinyl floors?  Hmm… They love the look of vinyl?

No!  They love the utilitarian purpose.  If the synthetic floor didn’t emulate wood or stone, it would be ho-hum.  (Remember the 1970s?) Consumers still love the look of natural products. Even carpet manufacturers make synthetic fibers to remind you of wool, silk or cotton.  In other words, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

I can remember when I first jumped into this industry over 30 years ago.  Every retail showroom was filled with sheet vinyl displays.  Where are they today?  20 years ago, it was laminate displays.  Where are they today?  10 years ago, I couldn’t give away a luxury vinyl tile display…but call it waterproof and now it’s a hit.  Wood and stone have remained a fixture through all those changes. You see, human beings are complex.  We love new things.  However, we also love authenticity.

So new products will excite us, and they will also go away.  Natural products, like wood and stone, will be around forever because human beings are innately drawn to authenticity.  It’s just the way we are hardwired.

Last month I had the privilege to meet with a large retail group.  The group has been in business for decades and been exposed to every floor imaginable. When I presented our hand-crafted wide-plank Atelier flooring, the group gasped.  In fact, one of the managers exclaimed, “This is my new favorite floor! I want this in my house!”

I didn’t tout utility.  I promoted natural beauty.  The managers’ reactions proved my point.  We are complex creatures…we love new, but we also love authentic.   It’s our job to show clients what’s exciting and new. Just don’t forget to tap into our customer’s love for authenticity.  You might be impressed by their reaction.  After all, the more things change…

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