We’re not even partway through the first act of the dynamic shutter market! At Norman Shutters we are developing and marketing innovative shutter products to sustain excitement among window coverings professionals and consumers alike. New products, materials, options and features satisfy industry needs for differentiation and help our customers set themselves apart from their competitors.
In fact, this spring we have exciting product news for the market including Color Inspirations™ custom color matching and Natural Expressions™ woven shutter inserts in our Sussex® Shutters collection. We will also add specialty shapes and new paint and stain colors to our Normandy® Shutters product lineup.
At Norman Shutters good-better-best product positioning was so important to us that when we started selling shutters we hit the ground running with our three core shutter lines: Sussex, Normandy and Woodlore®. We know that designers and retailers encounter homeowners with different needs and budgets every day. The only way to help them close more sales is to offer targeted and differentiated product lines. Our customers tell us that with Norman Shutters they are not stuck reducing prices and margins in order to close sales. With our three-tier product strategy they can close more sales and maintain profitability in their businesses.
The U.S. shutter market has changed drastically over the last 10 years and small- to medium-size manufacturers are finding it more and more difficult to compete on a number of fronts. The import of international shutter products combined with very large domestic companies offering multiple products and the resulting onset of consumers believing that shutters are mere commodities are all contributing to heightened competition.
Shutter Productions believes the answer for these issues is threefold:
1. Create regional, automated manufacturing facilities that allow multiple companies the advantages of automation, labor savings, faster production and measurable and repeatable quality.
2. Build strategic alliances with suppliers and other like-minded manufacturers so that multiple shutter product lines can be offered at the point of sale. We are already competing against marketing all things to everyone—the key is to get manufacturers that can deliver the needed product to the local dealer.
3. Use technology effectively. The AMI software fills the gap by making the process seamless for the consumer and the dealer. The ability for a local dealer to order a quality solid wood shutter at different price points, or other materials in any design configuration they want (stained, painted, specialty shapes, etc.) is the future of our market.
ONLY THE BEST
Vice President of Marketing
Increased shutter competition has actually broadened the market and given us a bigger piece of it. So many shutter companies are coming out with low-end shutters that it has provided clear separation for the companies who sell quality.
Companies that compete on price alone will run into difficulty as more shutter companies enter the market. At Sunburst Shutters, we differentiate ourselves based on quality, not price. It makes our sales process easier.
A few years ago, Sunburst considered a good/better/best product line. However, we realized the first two product levels (good and better) would be of inferior quality and cause problems with customers. We only sell the best product and do not give options for lower quality alternatives. That strategy significantly reduces repair costs and greatly increases customer satisfaction.
As consumers become more educated about the value of shutters, they will push builders and remodelers to include shutters as a window coverings option. Sunburst Shutters has had some success with this market in parts of the country—it is an area we hope continues to grow as builders learn the value of shutters in selling homes.
Vice President, Marketing and Sales
Consumers continue to ask for interior custom shutters as their first choice in window coverings. This demand is fueled by the intensified marketing efforts of the industry, along with the warm appeal of this product. The savvy consumer is aware that interior custom shutters will add value to the home, looking at this purchase as an investment.
As more manufacturers enter the market, there is an increase in product availability and selection, with greater affordability. This enables more consumers to invest in interior custom shutters for their homes. Thus widening the consumer base creating additional demand for this product.
Most dealers will carry several price points of custom interior shutters. They may start by having an unfinished hollow vinyl or composite line, which are good entry-level shutters and relatively inexpensive. Next, they may have a good quality solid synthetic shutter with a baked-on painted finish and, finally, a quality hardwood shutter available in custom painted and stained finishes. These three offerings could be considered a good/better/ best segmentation, thus allowing the consumer several options.
We have also found that the new homebuilders are offering custom window coverings as upgrades in the marketing of their products as well. This opens the door for added sales for shutter suppliers as well as dealers who supply installation. The shutter business continues to have a bright future.