Primary Research Helps Flooring Company Direct Product Development

The Client

The client is one of the world’s largest integrated producers of polymers and fibers, primarily for nylon, spandex, and polyester applications. A key area of their business is flooring products, including soft and hard surfaces.

The Challenge

Consumers want resilient flooring that continues to look like new over time. Visible damage such as scratches and dents are often cited as a key frustration. The typical product approach to this issue is trying to prevent or reduce damage. Our client was interested in testing a different approach — by making installed flooring easier to remove, so that damaged pieces and section could be replaced. By making flooring easier to install and replace, there was also an opportunity to drive more frequent purchases, since consumers often replace flooring before it is truly worn out.

The client was interested in testing consumers’ reactions to product samples that would help them understand the potential benefits (and barriers) of various flooring options. This would help them determine the value in further investment (time and money) on solutions that are: easy to install (DIY friendly, faster for contractors); easy to replace damaged pieces; and easy to refresh and update flooring more frequently (a lower risk way to stay on trend).

The company had identified three hard-surface flooring product concepts, one of which they intended to take to the next phase of development and eventually bring to market. They wanted to conduct a body of customer research to ensure their people, time, and investment were directed in the right area. They needed a partner with expertise in research to help them guide, develop, and execute the project.

The Solution

We began by identifying the company’s objectives. From there, we were able to design a methodology. It was important to understand, for each of the three flooring types, at the onset what was the intended benefit to the user in that space— and what aspects of the product helped meet that customer expectation.

For this research, the company identified two key groups — contractors who install hard-surface flooring and a mix of DIY and BIY (Buy-It-Yourself, Hire an Installer) consumers in the market for hard-surface flooring. We used qualitative research, specifically in-person individual interviews, which are investigative in nature, to understand the consumers’ and installers’ reactions to and perceptions of the flooring concepts, including:

  • The expected benefits (pre-and-post use)
  • The concerns or dislikes (pre-and-post use)
  • If the product (prototype) meet expectations
  • Appeal, interest, and likelihood to purchase
  • Which concept has the most/least appeal for the participants
  • Barriers to consideration and purchase

Each interview included a demonstration of the three flooring types, affording the groups a chance to experience them in-person and for us to ask a series of questions around each flooring type that would ultimately identify what flooring would be our client’s best option to move to the next phase of investment.

Once interviews were complete, we delivered a final deck outlining all responses and our recommendations.

The Impact

We were able to determine key drivers of interest, as well as identify concerns that needed to be addressed in order to reduce the barriers to consideration. The information resulted in our client’s ability to choose a flooring concept to proceed with to the next phase of development. In addition, feedback on all floorings concepts can be used to inform future development or investment on other flooring concepts.