Tile Niches vs. Organization & Assist Agenda

One of the most influential characteristics of the U.S. tile industry is its capacity to help consumers discover their “style” personality. For this reason alone, tile manufacturers produce literally thousands and tens of thousands of size, color and texture combinations, just so individuals can say, "I love my tile shower." When considering personality, durability and longevity together, the industry collectively creates one of the most successful branding propositions ever. However, after all the tile is on the wall and its esthetic beauty defined, consumers still have the practical requirement of addressing lifestyle needs and habits and answering the pressing question of, "how do I organize personal care products and create accessibility in my shower space?” For example:

  • mothers with toddlers may need a hook so a netted sack of toys can drip dry;
  • individuals who have physical limitations may require grab assistance and/or a foot prop to wash their lower extremities;
  • spa owners may offer patrons combination utility, providing grab assistance while simultaneously situating a body towel; and
  • since bath and shower habits are so very personal, some individuals may require storage baskets for personal care products, hooks for loofahs or a towel bar to situate a washcloth... or some combination of all three.

To date, the U.S tile industry is almost exclusively a shelf-related utility. However, consumers definitely need expanded utility. Just to clear the air, TileWare isn't selling against traditional tile accessories. Actually, we want to compliment them. Until TileWare, the tile industry offered only shelving solutions (corner caddies & niches). However, the U.S. consumer has many other organization and assist requirements. This is exactly where we add value… offering holistic shower solutions like grab bars, foot props, hooks, towel bars, storage baskets and glass shelving. Because of consumer requirements and the variety of accessory options TileWare offers, metal-related accessories sales will exceed traditional tile accessories sales by 10 times, especially when considering baby boomers, barrier-free and aging in place agendas. Grab bars alone easily represent 3 times niche sales. However, to capture these opportunities, we need to learn some new consumer values and sell-through techniques.

Consumers genuinely need a comprehensive organization and assist agenda, one that includes vertical partnership from both designers and tile installers. Additionally, consumers are savvy, so products need to be composed of metals (brass, zinc and stainless) that don’t rust, meaning, you can’t compare a longevity product like TileWare to mass merchants and home centers, because their off-the-shelf products are made of metals that will rust (carbon steel).

If we can look objectively at the total delivered costs for a single niche, consumers pay somewhere between $250 and $500 (material and labor – at retail... depending on your market region). See example below (very conservative). In the end, niches only serve consumers as a shelf-related utility - though very beautiful… just a very expensive single utility. With the same amount of money, TileWare can service multiple utilities. It’s important that consumers are aware that holistic utility solutions exist, ones which don't violate waterproofing and genuinely work (our mortar-based system literally holds nearly 1175lbs while maintaining waterproofing integrity). Because the tile industry is currently only a shelf and not an agenda, we force consumers to select product that either require wall anchors (violating waterproofing) or rust.

Staying centered on consumers’ needs - it’s important for dialogue with the consumer to go beyond just the traditional shelf utility… this takes a little practice for tile professionals. If time is taken to educate your customers beyond the shelf, you will find that every tile shower under your influence could be composed with a TileWare product. Consumers love our solutions, especially because our products never rust and will last as long as their tiled shower. Most importantly, we still engage the professional designer in an effort to further personalize the shower space. Showrooms that continually improve their “how to ask the right questions” technique eventually sell whole houses of TileWare (multiple showers), potentially generating thousands in a single sale.

Thanks for being so creative and allowing TileWare to help improve both your customer’s showroom and, ultimately, shower experience. Once sales teams experience the practicality and importance of TileWare, their comfort level and confidence will build. TileWare’s a new frontier for the tile industry – one day, like traditional tile accessories, we’ll be as comfortable as an old hat!

Call us: 828-322-9273.

David Scalise