RUG BIZ WORLDWIDE SHARES SAME ISSUE:
NOT A CLUE ABOUT SIZE AND SCOPE
By Lissa Wyman
I always thought that the American rug industry's inability to get a handle on the size and scope of the market was a quaint foible peculiar to the U.S.A. But it seems I'm wrong.
I got an email last week from Jerome Lizambard, the international sales and marketing director of VNU Exhibitions Asia, which sponsors the huge Shanghai show, Domotex Asia Chinafloor.
Jerome was interested in developing meaningful research on the current size and potential market for carpets and rugs in the Asia-Pacific region. (The Domotex Asia show attracts many retailers from all over Asia, an area we all know is thriving.)
He said he was particularly interested in the rug business. The producers of broadloom carpet had a pretty good handle on that category.
Of course, I didn't know. I told him that we don't even know how big the rug market is in the U.S. and that there are no hard, firm statistics on this business.
He said he was running up against a similar issue in the Far East.
Wow. Can you imagine a worldwide market for rugs and none of us know how large (or small) it is? Aside from anecdotal information, hunches and gossip, no one in the world knows for sure about consumer preferences for rug colors, styles, constructions, sizes, fibers and prices.
Rug producers all over the world are making products by the seats of their pants for consumers who may or may not be interested. Furthermore, they don't know how many and what kind of rugs were sold last year and have no guidance on what will be popular this year or next year.
According to About.com, the world's population is projected to be about 7 billion people in 2011. Potential rug customers. So when you consider the scope of the ignorance of the rug business, it's truly awesome.
After I meditated on this e-mail correspondence for some time, I offered Jerome one bit of wisdom. It's something I tell everybody who asks me the same question about the size of the U.S. rug market.
Whatever figure you might come up with, I warned, the actual number is probably much smaller.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but most rug makers are way too optimistic when it comes to both estimating the size of the pie and how much of that pie they think they can attain.
Every day we hear about sales managers and sales people who are chastised (or worse) for not making their quotas. Ever consider that those quotas may have been based on totally wacked-out ideas about how big this thing is in the first place?
I'm just as much in the dark as everyone else, but I prefer to err on the conservative side. I would rather be pleasantly surprised than unpleasantly surprised.
I am certainly not saying that this is a bad business. I think we are far away from reaching our potential. But until we really know where we stand, we will never know where we are going.
And what do YOU think?
Use the comment box below. Remember, we prefer to have you identify yourself. Be nice. Don't abuse this forum with churlish remarks.
You may also email us at email@example.com