Old Man: A bath mat? What do we need a bath mat for?
Ralph's Mother: Well, you never know! It might be nice.
I think it’s fair to say that a bath mat is one household object that falls into the category of things that are conspicuous only in their absence. Sort of like toilet paper.
But for a quick and relatively inexpensive bathroom refresher, there’s no better fashion pick-me-up than new bath mats, says David Record, Bath Product Manager for Mohawk Home.
According to David, the top three factors that influence a shopper’s choice of a bath mat are: color, color, and color. Beyond that, he says, consumers are looking for a soft, luxurious hand and a wide selection of sizes, including “contours” (those notched-out rugs that fit around the base of a toilet), and lid covers. In terms of size, the 21” x 34” rug is by far the market leader. Reason number six is price, where the “sweet spot” for a 21” x 34” hovers right around the $9.99 price point. “It’s like the magic number,” David said, adding that, while many shoppers are willing to pay more, volume falls off precipitously at higher price points.
I asked David to explain a little more about current trends and influences in the bath mat market.
CRI: What is the annual sales volume for bath mats?DR: Mohawk Home estimates bath rugs at $400-500 million annually at cost and over $1 billion at retail.
CRI: Are bath mats following the broadloom carpet trend into more textures and patterns?DR: There are more textured products on the market today, but approximately 90% of everything sold is solid color and that has not changed. For years, the #1 top seller has been a solid-color Saxony. Now we’re seeing more textured finishes, like friezés, loops, and cut and loop styles, but consumers don’t want anything so busy it will compete with other interior motifs. Borders, or a simple Greek key pattern are popular, but consumers will shy away from anything more elaborate.
CRI: What fibers are used?DR: Nylon accounts for 85% of the entire market. Nylon is easy for manufacturers to process and easy for consumers to care for. It dyes beautifully, is remarkably colorfast, and highly repeatable for color (which means you can dye batch after batch with the same dye formula and the results will look the same each time – BR). Nylon is also affordable. It isn’t as absorbent as cotton, but it dries faster, which is important in a bathroom. Nylon rugs usually come with a thick, embossed latex backing layer that provides valuable slip-resistance. Like broadloom carpet, nylon bath rugs are manufactured in the United States, while mats made with other fibers, including cotton, are almost invariably imported.
Cotton makes up the remaining 15% of the market. While lately I have seen some micro-denier polyester as well as some bamboo/cotton blends introduced, neither one currently accounts for a significant share of the market. Compared to nylon, cotton is not as easy-care or as colorfast. Many cotton rugs are reversible, which means they don’t have any anti-slip protection on the back. When a cotton rug does come with a latex backing, it tends to be a thinner application that doesn’t hold up as well over time.
CRI: How often do homeowners replace their bath mats?DR: Every 18 months to 2 years.
CRI: Is white the most popular color?DR: White is popular for towels, but in nylon rugs, white is definitely not the most preferred. Pale neutrals like parchment or ivory sell very well, but consumers don’t want white because they think it will be too hard to keep clean. Oddly, when a rug style includes black in its colorline, black will be the #1 or #2 seller.
One reason white towels are popular is because people like to use chlorine bleach to wash them. In fact, some consumers like put a little bleach in the wash water for just about everything, and because of that, Mohawk Home has introduced Everset®, a bleach-resistant treatment that protects the mat’s colors while allowing users to add a small amount of bleach to the wash.
CRI: How do bath mat manufacturers and towel companies get their products to match?DB: Mohawk maintains a color lab, and when retailers send us their towel color line, our colorists match it, then send our samples back for the retailer’s approval.
Thank you, David – I’ll never ignore my bath mat again!
This post represents the Carpet and Rug Institute Blog's contribution to the 4th annual Bathroom Blogfest. Bloggers participating in the Bathroom Blogfest ’09 include:
• Susan Abbott at Customer Experience Crossroads http://www.customercrossroads.com/
• Reshma Anand at Qualitative Research Blog http://onqualitativeresearch.blogspot.com/
• Shannon Bilby at From the Floors Up http://fromthefloorsup.com/
• Shannon Bilby and Brad Millner at My Big Bob’s Blog http://blog.mybigbobs.com/
• Laurence Borel at Blog Till You Drop http://www.laurenceborel.com/
• Jeanne Byington at The Importance of Earnest Service http://blog.jmbyington.com/
• Becky Carroll at Customers Rock! http://www.customersrock.net/
• Leslie Clagett at KB Culture http://www.kbculture.blogspot.com/
• Katie Clark at Practical Katie http://practicalkatie.blogspot.com/
• Iris Shreve Garrott at Checking In and Checking Out http://circulating.wordpress.com/
• Julie at Julie’s Cleaning Secrets Blog http://cleaningsecrets.greatcleaners.com/
• Marianna Hayes at Results Revolution http://www.resultsrevolution.com/
• Maria Palma at People To People Service http://www.people2peopleservice.com/
• Professor Toilet at Professor Toilet’s Blog http://www.professortoilet.com/
• David Reich at My 2 Cents http://reichcomm.typepad.com/
• Bethany Richmond at The Carpet and Rug Institute Blog http://www.carpet-and-rug-institute-blog.com/
• Carolyn Townes at Becoming a Woman of Purpose http://spiritwomen.blogspot.com/
• Stephanie Weaver at Experienceology http://experienceology.blogspot.com/
• C.B. Whittemore at Flooring The Consumer http://flooringtheconsumer.blogspot.com/ and Simple Marketing Blog http://www.simplemarketingblog.com/
• Linda Wright at Lindaloo.com: Build Better Business with Better Bathrooms http://lindaloo.com/
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