The 2016 Industry Pulse: Product Trends

Emily Kay Thompson
January 19, 2016
FEATURE ARTICLE

More than half of manufacturers added new products to their offerings in 2015, and 44 percent of window and door dealers offered new options to their customers. These figures are projected to remain consistent in 2016.

“The competitive landscape is fiercer than ever,” says Roto Fasco’s Dan Gray. “Staying a step ahead of the competition is critical.” In order to do so, he says that companies must continue to differentiate themselves with new products, providing their customers with additional options.

Rick Locke, president of Windows, Doors & More, did just that. “In 2015, we added products that complement our existing market segment focus,” he reports, most of which, he says, were very high-end, niche products. Locke is in the 21 percent of dealers that reported an increase in the high-end category.

The mid-tier variety of products represented the majority of sales for dealers, suppliers and manufacturers last year. Both dealers and suppliers project a marginal increase in budget products in 2016, moving from the mid-tier category.

Martin Boulanger, director of marketing for Royal Building Products, shares his thoughts on this trend: “The cheap products sold in the housing boom of the early 2000s produced windows that are failing today.” He advises dealers to stress value over price.

What worked?

Color continues to be the big story in fenestration products—39 percent of manufacturers that added products in 2015 expanded color options and 21 percent more plan to add new colors in 2016. The other big trends included additions of vinyl offerings (39 percent).

Boulanger reasons this has much to do with new construction conditions, the choice product for which, he says, is vinyl. In addition, he says that vinyl is being used in more expensive houses too—a new trend. “Four to five years ago, most vinyl windows were sold in entry-level housing. Because vinyl is now offered in colors and with updated features, it is more appealing.”

Second most popular for manufacturers that added offerings in 2015 were multi-panel doors, for which dealers like Locke saw increased demand. “The big door category was very strong for us—bi-folding, multi-slide and lift-slide doors accounted for a much larger percentage of overall sales than in past years,” reports Locke. About one-third of manufacturers and dealers added these “big-doors” in 2015; roughly the same percentage of manufacturers and dealers plan to add them in 2016.

Chet Willis, vice president of production builder sales for Western Window Systems, explains that this increase is due, in part, to new homebuyers of the Millennial generation entering the scene. He says that dealers need to be aware of this segment and the impact the group will have on new home buying decisions. “Research has shown that Millennials are looking for indoor-outdoor living solutions. Dealers need to incorporate indoor-outdoor living into their pitches.”

Finally, as expected, Energy Star-rated products reportedly accounted for more than a quarter of the products introduced in 2015 and 38 percent of planned product launches for this year. While only 7 percent of dealers ended up selling these lines in 2015, 21 percent of surveyed dealers plan to incorporate Energy Star-rated products in 2016.

GPI Millwork’s Geoffrey Card explains this is a must for industry professionals to be successful in 2016. He says it’s important for manufacturers to be in compliance with product performance standards, “and to utilize new materials to achieve cost-effective product designs and attractive features.”

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Main Article
Sales by the Numbers
Staffing Trends
Production Capacity
Product Trends
Dealer Marketing Tactics

Thompson is editor in chief of Window + Door, WindowandDoor.com, and WDweekly. Write her at ethompson@glass.org.