As the aspirational flooring choice, with two-thirds of U.S. homeowners reporting they would choose real wood floors for their dream home, according to research conducted by Public Opinion Strategies, retailers have an opportunity to give consumers the products they want — high-end hardwood.
“There are a lot of opportunities for growth in this specific market,” noted Kyle McAllister, a residential carpet company's hardwood and laminate category director. And while he expects there to be headwinds in the high-end segment due to macroeconomic factors, the consumer who knows hardwood, wants hardwood and has the budget for hardwood, will not settle for any other product.
While certain segments of the hardwood market, such as the entry level, have seen some erosion as a result of improvements and advancements in lower-cost imitation products, the mid- to high price point segments have remained healthy, said John Hammel, a commercial modular and broadloom carpet company’s senior director of hardwood and laminate. “I think that mid- to premium end of the market is really a space that still has great opportunity, and that’s really where we’ve focused heavily this year with our product launches,” he said.
Although experts anticipate economic headwinds brought on by widespread inflation, climbing interest rates and mass layoffs across a variety of industries, among other things, the high-end consumer is generally insulated against these issues. “Consumers who purchase high-end products are typically less sensitive to price changes and more focused on quality, added values, etc.,” pointed out Thomas Baert, president and co-founder of a flooring company.
Key visual trends in hardwood include a preference for longer and wider planks in ultra low gloss and matte finishes, as well as a strong desire for white oak. Patterned wood floors, especially herringbone, are also popular, noted David Moore, senior product director of wood and laminate of a flooring company.
The high-end hardwood consumer also values exclusivity, said Mark Casper, vice president of sales and marketing of a flooring company. “These customers are looking for innovative design that stands out from the crowd,” he said, adding that offering innovative collections not available elsewhere creates a sense of luxury.
As one of the most sustainable floor covering options, according to recent Environmental Product Declarations commissioned by the National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) and Decorative Hardwoods Association (DHA), wood flooring ticks another box for the high-end customer.