Green Building Industry Trends

As a marketing researcher and strategist some of my work in recent years has been involved with understanding green building trends. I’ve conducted a number of market assessment projects that have looked into the barriers and opportunities in this growing industry. Today, I’m going to share some of those findings plus what kind of marketing is needed to promote green building materials.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the green building industry is growing both in North America and worldwide. Here are some of the factors driving growth in this industry:

  1. Demand for construction is increasing. Capital expenditures in 2014 for construction in Canada were estimated at $909.9 million.[1] The U.S. economy has also rebounded and growing at an estimated 4% which is reviving Canadian exports for construction materials.[2]
  2. The cost of building materials are increasing. Lumber prices are increasing in North America[3] and U.S. housing starts are improving which has effectively increased gypsum prices by 75% in 2014 compared to 2011 prices.[4]
  3. Demand for green buildings is increasing. Growth in this industry has been dramatic in the last 10 years and continues to grow. Global green construction is estimated to grow to a $254 billion industry by 2020, and Europe is forecast to account for half of the growth.[5] Thirty percent of respondents to the Canada Green Building Trends Report in 2014 indicated they use green building material in their projects.
  4. LEED certified buildings are increasing, thereby creating a growing demand for green building products.

Barriers

In general, there seems to be a lack of confidence in the use and performance of green building products. Many still need to be tested for durability and have yet to pass regulations. There is also an issue with the return on investment for these types of products as they can be priced between 5% to 20% higher than traditional building materials. Adding to a slower uptake is the lack of government incentives to motivate consumers to try green building materials.

Opportunities

While the barriers can be many, there are opportunities in this industry. Forming alliances (joint ventures, partnerships, and informal working groups) is important to build a stronger infrastructure for green building materials. The industry is growing; while the need isn’t commonplace yet, there is indication consumers are more concerned about the environment and want to do their part to help.

How to Market in This Industry

When marketing green building materials to either builders, architects, contractors or the end-user (the people who reside in the building) the focus needs to be on “advocates.” This means marketing should be aimed at those who already favour the use green products because they are more likely to accept these types of products.

Builders who are non-green are a harder sell because they need to know:

  • The cost of the product
  • If is proven
  • The esthetic appeal
  • The benefits
  • The specifications

As a result, the market requires both a pull and a push marketing strategy:

  • A pull strategy will serve to educate the end-user (home buyer or company in a commercial building) who will then request the products
  • A push strategy can create greater awareness among builders who can, in turn, inform their clientele

Here are some of the marketing and sales tactics required for the success of companies in the green building product industry:

  • Branding
  • Website development
  • Marketing materials (hard copy and electronic)
  • Tradeshows (attending and presenting)
  • Publicity and Social Media
  • Information sessions
  • Videos
  • Contact databases
  • After sales techniques

Written by Toni Guffei of Ratio Reports. @tonironi

For more information about how you can create your own strategic marketing visit www.ratioreports.com

[1] Statistics Canada, 2015

[2] Conference Board of Canada, 2014

[3] Shmuel, John. “TD forecasts Lumber Prices will Rise 30% by end of 2014.” (June, 2013)

[4] Carrick, Alex. “Some Spine Tingling Increases in Canadian Construction Material Costs.” Daily Commercial News, 2014

[5] Martin, Richard. “Green Building Materials Will Reach $254 Billion in Annual Market Value by 2020.” May, 2013

Branding 101 – What Every Marketer Should Know

When it comes to developing a marketing plan, I often get asked what branding is and why it’s important for small businesses to consider as a part of their overall approach. Here are the answers to those questions and 3 basic steps on how you can develop your company's brand.

What is a Brand?

A brand is the combination of visual images and wording that creates a perception in the mind of the customer. The best brands start with a strategy. They are carefully defined and developed with the customer’s experience in mind.

Why is it Important?

If you get the idea that you need to present a certain image for your company in order to gain greater success, or you want to achieve the goal of increasing long-term, repeat customers, or you want to improve the goodwill aspect of your business for a potential exit strategy, then branding is for you.

A successful brand is made up of a recognized name, design, logo, symbol or a combination of these and/or other factors. It has a competitive advantage because it is the one that immediately comes to mind, and gaining a competitive advantage means the brand makes more money.

Instant recognition of a brand is just one aspect of what makes it successful. Another defining characteristic between successful and failed brands is that the more successful brands deliver on the values the customer wants. A customer actually has an emotional connection to a brand because there is some relevant, unique value in a successful brand that the others just don’t provide, and people like to align themselves with certain brands because it defines who they are in essence.

How to Develop Your Brand

Step 1: Define your brand

Defining your brand as a company can be uncomfortable because in some ways it can be akin to soul-searching. It’s a matter of getting to your core values, combining them with the essence of your offering and creating a visual and verbal message for your key audiences. Start with asking some specific questions:

  • What do we stand for (this is your Mission / Vision for the company)
  • What is the value that we deliver to the customer and within the industry?
  • How do we deliver value better than the competition?
  • What is the current perception about your brand? You should ask your customers what they think.
  • What do you aspire to be in the mind of the customer?

Step 2: Create elements that will represent the brand

All aspects of the company – both external and internal - should envelop the brand elements. This goes for the traditional advertising components of colors and fonts, as well as the sights, sounds and scents in your retail store. Customer service is another branding element that should be included in your strategy.

Step 3: Deliver your brand

Once the brand elements are developed getting it out there requires a commitment. Enduring brands are created with consistent visual and verbal symbols and messaging over a cross-section of media channels directly aimed at your target audience over a long period of time. The pay-off is getting your brand known for something that resonates with customers to the point they become devoted advocates. When you succeed in gaining true brand advocates, they are prone to fanatically promote yours as their favorite brand. That kind of word of mouth means gold for your business.

Toni Guffei is an Entrepreneur, Educator & Explorer. Follow her on Twitter: @tonironi

For more information about branding contact info@ratioreports.com

DIY Marketing Tactics

Having a tactical approach in marketing is key to understanding the success of your initiatives. Those tactics can range from Twitter and LinkedIn as a social media plan to get the word out online an on-going magazine ad aimed at a specific target audience.

When it comes to planning your tactics, you might want to consider some easy do-it-yourself ways to promote what you’ve got to offer. Here’s a few to think about.

  • Google Ads can be an easy and inexpensive way to get your offering in front of a large online audience. Google Ads are more broad in their selection of who sees your ad than Facebook ads (which on the plus side can be more highly targeted), but people are more likely to click on an ad while they’re doing an internet search.
  • Create a You Tube Channel and showcase a video series to demonstrate your offering. Video creation and editing tools are getting easier to use. For instructions on how to do it yourself, you can do a search in You Tube for “How to Start a You Tube Channel.”
  • Create an infographic which can demonstrate interesting facts and data about your offering in a visual way. This is a great way to build your brand and show your target market what you can do for them. For 10 Ways to Use Infographics, check out: http://thenextweb.com/dd/2013/10/16/10-ways-use-infographics/
  • Support a local cause. By having your logo placed in their promotional material for sponsoring a worthy cause contributes to building your brand. The trick is to make sure the cause you’re supporting is aimed at reaching your specific target market.