Agglomerate Stone - Marketing Brands

Too often we see new agglomerate stone brands all over the place, are new producer coming in to the agglomerate stone sector? No, not likely ... is possibly the best answer to this question.
It has been around for years, excluding a few of the worlds biggest producers who mark their products with their brands, most producers sell unmarked and unbranded products, making them a OEM type product. If we look at Chinese agglomerate stone producers we can add, that the majority of their production which is exported around the world is re-branded to avoid the negative impact that may be caused by marketing made in China products.
We have seen, great success stories regarding this type of product branding, but we also have seen many unsuccessful ones. The major problem is that quality has to be assured and the colour reference have to be consistent. If we have problems controlling shade from products manufactured in the same factory, we will have chaos if the origin is different as products will be different in texture and shade.
Everyone likes to have an edge on their market, and self branding their products is a costly activity but rewarding, as they protect themselves from producers who strategically may want to increase market share. And in times like the ones we have lived in the last few years, many ethical and other respectable words are just ripped from our sales vocabulary, and everything goes, as long as sales keeps up to beat.
Personally, I've done business both ways, and have played both parts as a producer and distributor. While importing from the producer, the market I was dealing with did not show any consistency in sales until we filled the gap. We guaranteed sales, in exchange for exclusive rights to be the sole importer for the country. The first two years went really well, expected sales jumped, by the third year the producer noticed the potential of our market and decided not to sign a written agreement. We promoted the brand, with marketing and publicity, without any or very little support from the producer, the risk to our business was too high for our stakes, so we decided to create our own brand and start buying some colours from other producers. At the end of the year we stopped marketing with the producers brand and fully assumed our brand.
Obviously this brand changing event was not positive for business, but we seen it as inevitable to guarantee our position in the business.
As a producer, we have had a very loyal attitude towards our distributors, supporting them as much as we could, our brand was a low-cost alternative, basically a great price quality product. Although sales was always the key to maintain sales agreements, if sales do not comply, then the agreement is useless. Never should the agreement be settled when sales are as predicted, the greedy mind to increase sales by eliminating counterparts in the sales chain can back fire.
Producing OEM or branded products, we have done both, some of our clients want to control their market strategy, so they brand them themselves. In our most important and traditional markets we had our own brand and created a quality image for our products. It takes years to build an image, and this image has to be supported on quality products and quality service, one thing that some people may not be aware of is that it takes very little to destroy years and years of hard work. And the worst part is that some mistakes may never be mended.


Trade Shows 2013

Trade show in 2012 are just ending, and have been better than expected, 2013 Trade Show will be hopefully better, as we expect the International market to begin to give a positive response. 
For upcoming 2013 fairs I recommend as always the Marmomacc fair, year after year I always somehow repeat myself, but for many years this fair has and still is an opinion leader in the sector. In Verona we see year after year all the stake holders in the stone industry attending Marmomacc, they look for tendencies, innovation and market reality, because it's all there. So we in the stone industry I can say we have Marmomacc and all the others.

My List of the most important International Stone fairs in the World:

  • STONEXPO MARMOMACC AMERICAS, Las Vegas, USA (29-31st of January 2013)
  • INDIA STONEMART 2013, Jaipur, India (31st January-3rd of February 2013) 
  • TECHNO+STONE - Kiev, Ukraine (20-22nd of February 2013)
  •  VITORIA STONE FAIR- Serra, Brazil (26th February-1st of March 2013): 34th Edition
  • STONE XIAMEN - Xiamen, China (6th-9th of  March2013)
  •  MARBLE 2013 - Izmir, Turkey (27th -30th of March 2013)
  • STONETECH - Shangai, China (18th-21st of April 2013)
  • THE NATURAL STONE 2013 - London -Great Britain (30th April - 2nd of  May 2013)
  • STONE TEC - Nuremberg, Germany (29th of May-1st of June 2013)
  • STONE GATE EGYPT - Cairo, Egypt (20th-24th of June 2013)
  • MARMOMACC - Verona, Italy (25th-28th of September 2013) : 48th Edition
  • THE BIG FIVE - Dubai, U.A.E. (November 2013)
2013 we have the German trade show Stone Tec in Nuremberg, one of my favourite, it only occurs every two years. Very interesting show, in a very nice region, so enjoy business and pleasure simultaneously.

The Brazilian market has not been as good as expected, however crucial times await, let's see what happens as we get close to the final stages of the big construction projects which are in motion.