Thursday, January 28, 2010

Prince Charles, wool growers and carpet industry converge in new wool brand

On Tuesday, His Royal Highness Prince Charles announced a new international wool program directed at saving the sheep industry by promoting the attributes of wool to textile buyers, retailers and consumers. Next week you’ll hear about how that story dovetails with the floor covering industry when The International Design Guild (a division of CCA Global Partners) launches the Just Shorn™ brand of premium wool carpets the day before Surfaces (the U.S. international flooring show in Las Vegas).Just Shorn Logo

The two stories may appear to be only tangentially related but in fact there has been considerable cooperation behind the scenes to create a new focus on wool, a premium wool fiber brand and a new, branded marketing story to differentiate the fiber directed at retailers and consumers. In recent years wool fiber’s marketing story has been commoditized and overshadowed by synthetics. Next week that will change with the launch of the Just Shorn™ brand.

Last month I posted “Branding to Create Profit Opportunity” where I made the point that brands with a verifiable difference create profit opportunity while assuring the customer that they will receive what they want and expect. Here is a classic example. While working on the Just Shorn™ project over the last six months I learned to appreciate the significant differences in wools. There is such a thing as premium wool that meets standards for color, fiber length and thickness, resiliency and feel. Only premium New Zealand wool qualifies for the Just Shorn™ label and their Verifi TT™ textile tracking technology makes it possible to verify then certify for consumers that Just Shorn™ branded products are made with their high quality fiber. The marketing story is geared to help retailers and consumers understand the differences and benefits. This is a good example of branding to create profit opportunity and consumer confidence.

New Zealand SheepIt’s not often that a royal’s priorities and those of the flooring industry converge and to have the Prince's support is greatly appreciated. While the Prince’s goal may be to create more revenue for passionate wool growers, he and the Just Shorn™ program have created a great new opportunity in floor covering and the International Design Guild will be the first to capitalize on it. The British Wool Marketing Board will show Prince Charles’ Cambridge press event on video at their Surfaces booth starting at 4 pm next Tuesday. Their press release, Major Wool Campaign Launched by HRH The Prince of Wales, summarizes their story.

Prince Charles is a naturalist and protector of the environment. He stresses that wool is sustainable, renewable and biodegradable. Let me add, from a flooring perspective, that wool is a fabulous fiber for carpet. It is better for the environment and because wool prices are so low, it is the best value available in broadloom. While the ends of synthetic fibers elongate, look fuzzy and stringy under heavy traffic, wool carpet always looks fresh and new. That is because wool is like hair. The ends break off after years of heavy traffic creating a “new” fiber end that keeps the carpet looking new. That is why 100 year old Persian rugs can be worn almost to the back and yet still look great.

This all makes wool carpet a great value for the consumer - one that is also sustainable and environmentally friendly. With Just Shorn’s certified label they also get assurance of quality. This feels like a win for the sheep growers, the flooring industry and the consumer - it is surely an over-due development for a product whose time has come.

I’ll be at the IDG product launch and at the British Wool Press conference. I would love to see you there and hear what you think. If you can’t be there I’d still like to hear your thoughts.

Jim

Jim Gould, president and founder of the Floor Covering Institute
jgould@FloorCoveringInstitute.com

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