As every member of the U.S. Hardwood sector knows, our industry is facing significant challenges. Markets are shrinking. Competition is stiff. And while our industry has a “powerful” story to tell, it has yet to be “successful in developing a coordinated and collaborative domestic initiative to effectively tell this story, and communicate the science-based benefits of real American hardwood products.” But that’s changing!
A recent press release provided the following update on the work being done by the
Real American Hardwood Promotion Coalition, a group of hardwood association executives that “came together in early 2019 to brainstorm approaches for a voluntary, industry-wide promotion initiative.
The top priorities are transparency and moving forward in a way that engages all members of the hardwood community. The mission is to develop a clear, concise and overarching brand statement and promotion program that can be echoed throughout the supply chain.
This brainstorming session led to the following objectives:
- Establish a real American hardwood promotion program directed at domestic consumers, specifiers, educators, influencers and end-users with a launch date of spring 2020.
- Identify steps and deliverables vital in developing a coordinated initiative to promote the true story and science-based benefits of real American hardwood.
- Bring other association executives to the program and expand the reach of the message.
A successful program will:
- Educate consumers and raise public awareness of real American hardwood;
- Generate new products;
- Increase markets and sales;
- Improve industry stability.
More than 30 executives of hardwood industry organizations and associations—local, state, regional and national, have been a part of the conversation to establish consensus and develop an action plan. The focus is to capitalize on the expertise and skillfulness of the hardwood association executives who manage diverse priorities and expectations, sharing the same common denominator: Real American Hardwood.
Broad participation from every industry segment is vital to develop the overarching brand statement. To date, 24 organizations representing lumber, flooring, moulding, cabinetry, veneer and industrial market segments have come forward to participate, agreeing to pool funds and finance at least the first two phases of work.
Promotion means different things to different people. Webster defines it as an activity that supports or provides active encouragement for the furtherance of a cause, venture or aim; the publicization of a product, organization or venture to increase sales or public awareness. For the American Hardwood Promotion Coalition, key components to a successful, sustaining, promotion program include Advocacy, Research & Development, Marketing and Education.
The group plans to:
- Collect Data: Review existing data; identify missing data regarding consumer attitudes towards hardwood products; identify the unknown. The coalition will work with a vetted research firm to collect significant data from consumers, architects, builders, designers, educators and industry associates on buying habits, key influencers, little know (un)truths about hardwood products and the environmental favor they hold versus other materials.
- Develop a Brand: Engage a firm specializing in brand acceleration to utilize the research results to develop the over-arching brand statement, and identify the most effective go-to-market road map. This will hopefully include strategic efforts that can be implemented at little or low cost. A priority of both phases will be to keep industry association leaders aligned and engaged.
- Implementation: Identify feasible tactics and move forward, continually evaluating and adjusting.
- Education: Develop a database of post-secondary programs related to forestry, sustainability and wood as a primary building material. Association and industry leaders will be able to search for opportunities to present and educate the build/design influencers of the future about the benefits of sourcing hardwoods for finished goods, construction and industrial applications.
The next Coalition meeting will be held on Monday, February 3, 2020, at the Indiana Hardwood Lumbermen’s Association (IHLA) Convention in Indianapolis. All interested association executives are encouraged to attend. A Coalition update will be presented at the general session on Tuesday, February 4.
To offer support to the initiative, contribute financially, or receive additional information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.”