Obvious, not apparent
Last week I had a shoe situation. After my morning workout at the gym near the office, I reached for my shoe bags and discovered I packed two different shoes. I was 20 miles and two rush-hours of traffic away from their respective mates. Unmatched, they were still preferable to my sweaty sneakers, so I put them on.
As I walked out of the locker room, I prepared myself with a few anticipatory quips: “I couldn’t decide this morning; which do you like better?” and, “Yes, I have another pair just like these at home.”
Turns out, not a lot of people noticed. Not in the office elevator, not in my first meeting of the day, not in the kitchen getting coffee, not in the deli buying lunch. It got me thinking about what seems obvious to some and yet not apparent to others.
The day before I was at a meeting in Philadelphia (hence the shoe bags) presenting results of a recent Window & Door magazine survey about “new opportunities.” In my presentation and the one that followed by National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) director of market research, Ed Hudson, there were at least two instances of what I refer to as “obvious, not apparent.”
When asked where they see new business opportunities in the next few years, vinyl window and door manufacturers indicate they are staying focused on the tried and true residential remodeling and replacement market. This is despite indicators that growth is projected in single-and multi-family new construction and even bigger gains for commercial windows, according to the annual market study prepared by Ducker Research for the American Architectural Manufacturers Association and the Window & Door Manufacturers Association.
Hudson’s excellent presentation cited a recent NAHB study on consumer views on green home buying & renting. When asked, almost half of purchasers and renters responded: “I want an ‘environmentally friendly’ home, but I would not pay more to purchase/rent one.”
Now, if you’re in the construction—or any—business, you’re probably saying, “this is obvious. Everyone wants more bells and whistles, more value, more whatever without paying extra for it.”
Meanwhile, many suppliers have been selling “green” for many years. Words and phrases such as energy efficiency, durability, low maintenance, comfort and healthy indoor environment are already incorporated into products and how they are marketed, and all of them are strong decision factors among buying and renting consumers.
And yet, 55 percent of builders surveyed in the same study, who are very likely already building and marketing homes that are energy efficient, durable and low maintenance, responded this way about their intentions to build “green”: “No interest in going green” to “considering going green” and “learning how to build green.”
According to NAHB, the average cost increase of a “green home” over a standard home is 2 percent, which doesn’t seem very high, especially if builders are already incorporating green features.
Is there a disconnect, or are we missing the obvious business and marketing opportunities?
Whatever it is, noticing is a good start.
The author is publisher of Glass Magazine and vice president of publications for the National Glass Association. Write her at firstname.lastname@example.org.