The Real American Hardwood Coalition
The Real American Hardwood Coalition is a voluntary industry-wide domestic promotion initiative developed by industry associations and directed by those executive directors.
The U.S. hardwood industry is facing significant change driven by a variety of factors, including stiff competition from wood look-alike products, relentless misleading campaigns about the sustainability of wood products, a slowing world economy, and the ongoing U.S. trade war with China.
And while the industry has a powerful story to tell…the beauty and desirability of the products, the history of the industry, the small family business focus, the sustainability of our raw material, and the environmental and health benefits of using hardwood; it has not yet been successful in developing a coordinated and collaborative domestic initiative to effectively tell this story and communicate the science-based benefits of real American hardwood products.
How did the RAHPC start?
In early 2019, a small group of hardwood association executives, energized by the success of their joint effort on the Hardwood Economic Impact Study, came together to brainstorm ideas and approaches for a voluntary industry-wide promotion initiative. Of top priority – transparency – moving forward in a way that engages all members of the hardwood community. Receiving input and recognizing the differences of the many industry segments is essential to develop a clear, concise and overarching brand statement that can be echoed throughout the supply chain.
What are the goals/objectives?
Establish a unified hardwood promotion program directed at domestic consumers, specifiers, educators, influencers, and end-users with a launch date of spring 2020.
Bring other association executives to the table and build on the enthusiasm that has been generated thus far.
Continue to identify steps and deliverables vital in developing a coordinated and collaborative initiative to promote the true story and science-based benefits of real American hardwood. A successful program will:
Educate consumers and raise public awareness to the benefits of real American hardwood;
Generate new products;
Increase markets and sales;
Improve industry stability.
Who leads the Coalition?
There are 30+ executives of hardwood industry organizations and associations – local, state, regional and national, no matter the size – who have been invited to further the conversation, establish consensus, develop an action plan and move forward with implementation.
The focus is to capitalize on the expertise and skillfulness of the many hardwood association executives who manage diverse priorities and expectations on a daily basis. Broad participation from every industry segment is vital to develop the overarching brand statement. To date, 24 organizations from flooring, moulding, cabinetry, veneer and industrial market segments have come forward to participate, agreeing to pool funds and finance at least the first two phases of work. Going forward, and once a solid foundation is established, the effort will be expanded to welcome individuals and hardwood businesses.
How will the Coalition work to develop a promotion program?
Promotion means different things to different people. The Coalition has decided the key components to a successful program include Advocacy, Research & Development, Marketing, and Education.
Collect Data: Review existing data; identify missing data regarding consumer attitudes towards hardwood products; identify the unknown. The coalition will work with a vetted research firm to collect significant data from consumers, architects, builders, designers, educators and industry associates on buying habits, key influencers, little know (un)truths about hardwood products and the environmental favor they hold versus other materials.
Develop a Brand: Engage a firm specializing in brand acceleration to utilize the research results to develop the over-arching brand statement, AND identify the most effective go-to-market road map. This will hopefully include strategic efforts that can be implemented at little or low cost. A priority of both phases will be to keep industry association leaders aligned and engaged.
Implementation: Identify feasible tactics and move forward, continually evaluating and adjusting.
Education: The Coalition is developing a database of post-secondary programs related to forestry, sustainability and wood as a primary building material. Association and industry leaders will be able to search for opportunities to present and educate the build/design influencers of the future about the benefits of sourcing hardwoods for finished goods, construction and industrial applications.