Talking Tape With Your Customers
It’s no secret—at least not any more, thanks to us—that tape is a pretty competitive sundry. It’s a good thing, as tapemakers are working hard to make the product better, stickier (or less sticky), and more particular about where it sticks—so you can sell a better-suited tape and along with it, sell a better project. But since it’s no longer simply “I need a roll of tape,” it takes a bit more fly time to make sure people are going home with the right stuff.
All that said—and what a mouthful that was—our questions were about putting some message in your brand and some brand in your message—drive home the message so your customers can drive home impressed with your product knowledge and selection.
Brandon Paas, Marketing Director at Intertape Polymer Group, notes that your point of sale material should help make it easy for customers to quickly and easily understand the differences in tape. “Get trained on the products so you can answer questions and offer advice based on the customer’s job,” he added. And don’t sell them short—they might have studied up before they came calling. “Customers know brand and they know good, quality tape,” he asserted. “A lot of what they think is based on perception, but when perception sells and the results turn out good, perception becomes reality.”
Kaci Baon, Category Manager, Shurtech, suggests not teasing your customers with bottom shelf products—or if you must, keep them on the bottom shelf. “Our consumers don’t have time to waste with products that don’t perform to their high standards, expectations and preferences,” she said. “Tape is a tool, and once they find a brand that maximizes their efficiency, they become brand loyal. The tape’s performance and results sell the tape, but a reputation in delivering performance and results also builds brand loyalty with the contractor.”
Still, let’s say you know more about tape than they do, so you can ask them a few questions to make sure they have what works best. “You can help consumers make the best tape-buying decision by getting to the soul and scope of their project. “For production applications,” she continued, “they might not always need a higher priced product. FrogTape® brand painters tape may not be the best choice every time. Focus on the tape that adds the most value to the project—sometimes that is a basic beige masking tape, but many times it should be FrogTape.”
Stand by Your Brand
Tape probably won’t make your shop a destination station, so you might not think that brand matters as much as, say, paint. Don Applegate at Vibac is here to say that yes, it does. “Not only are customers brand savvy, I think they are becoming increasingly performance savvy,” he observed. If you want them to buy the brand you stock, show them how and why it’s a better tape. “Customers are willing to try new masking tapes when the performance features speak to them,” he said. “Sharp edge tape lines, improved adhesion without damaging the substrate, masking tape that doesn’t break apart upon removal, improved moisture resistance (or waterproof like our Blue Masking Tape and Gold Washi Tape), higher heat tolerances are all performance features that painters need daily.”
If Vibac’s Da Vinci line isn’t a household word, Applegate suggests helping that along by imparting his company’s message of more performance for less money. “We feel that the contractor or DIYer deserves a product that performs without having to sacrifice more dollars to get it,” he said. “Technology has progressed both in masking tape development and production such that you do not have to overpay to get better performance. These advances have enabled Vibac to produce everyday masking tapes that have performance features that rival expensive niche tapes.
At the end of the day you just want a masking tape that gives you sharp lines, removes easier, reduces touchups and adds to instead of takes away from your profit line. Try something new!” he urges. “You might be surprised at the results and at the same time increase your profits.”
Ear to the Ground
Roland Kolilias, President at Blue Dolphin Sundries, listens not only to his dealers but also keeps an ear out for his customers—what painters want, in particular, can influence the products they create and improve.
“The majority of new products introduced at Blue Dolphin are driven from the end user,” he said. “We participate in many contractor events and they drive new products. For example, we introduced a Poly Hanging tape for heavier plastics as a direct result of the contractor demands.”
For Blue Dolphin, the “message” is that paint is changing, so it’s imperative that tape adapts to new paint and painters adapt to new tape. “The same old tapes are not performing with the new paints,” he said. “Contractors need to adapt their tools as the paints change or their end results will suffer.”
Jerry Szpotek, Brand Manager, ScotchBlue™ Painters Tapes at 3M, has a simple message for dealers, and one that goes for all your shelves and aisles. “Look for products that you know will help increase efficiency,” he suggests. “3M strives to develop products that are innovative in ways that matter. That means developing products that simply work better, and most importantly, allow the professional to be more efficient and productive.”
He agrees with our other speakers in that sales are a combo of brand and quality. A brand with a proven history has a good chance of getting takers out of the box, but the product still must prove itself. “Most end-users, and particularly professional painters, are brand-savvy with important paint sundries,” he said. “If it’s not the brand itself selling tape, it often comes down to what’s tried and true. Professional painters and DIYers often chose tapes based on what they know works given their prior experiences.”
Is the Price Still Right?
There’s a reason we’ve never put Durham’s Water Putty in our new product section—they’ve sold the same thing since 1932. But tape? Lots of action and some at higher price points. How is it playing out? Again, it depends what you want.
“There are price points for everything and for everyone,” said Brandon Paas at Intertape. “It all depends on what they buy. Obviously, they may spend more money based on the tape but there are also similar products at lower price points. It all depends on the application.”
This means, and you’ve probably noticed this incrementally, your tape display may be bigger than it was even five years ago. “The average dealer display has grown,” says Brandon. “With the new products coming out they need to make more space. There’s more tape on endcaps and free standing displays as dealers don’t want to just replace a good selling SKU already on shelf.”
Szpotek says that even if your dedicated tape display hasn’t grown, dealers are finding more and different spaces to hang it. “Secondary display, or off-shelf placement, has become much more common in the pro paint channel over the last few years This provides extra or prime space to highlight new products or promotions,” he said.
Roland Kolilias tells us that that yes, there’s a lot more tape, and yes, it may cost more, but it’s a good thing. “New technology in tapes will save time and money with better results. The new products will cost more up front but will reap higher profit.
“Most dealers allocate four feet to their tape area,” he continued. “However, they have started to cross merchandise the new and old products.” Suggestions include putting exterior tapes with the exterior paints, poly tapes with the drops, and high end tapes with premium paints
If they ask why the tape costs more, suggest they’re buying time. “The current solutions in the market are targeted at saving the contractor time,” said Kaci Baon at Shurtape. “They may spend more on the product, but they’ll more than make that up in the time savings the product affords them.”
Plus, she’s got a story for you to tell as to why a roll of FrogTape costs more than a biscuit. “The FrogTape message differs because our sell story is backed up by a patented technology that truly delivers super sharp paint lines. All FrogTape brand painter’s tapes are treated with patented PaintBlock® Technology, a super-absorbent polymer that reacts with the water in latex paint and instantly gels to form a micro-barrier that seals the edges of the tape, preventing paint bleed and creating clean, crisp paint lines.”
As much as painters are brand savvy, they have a reputation for sticking with what they know. With tape, sticking is really important. If you’re trying to move a new brand, you’ll need to unroll some benefits so they can get to the core of your message. Don Applegate at Vibac wants to help you give his product some legs by showing you and your customers that his tape does the same as brands they’ve used for years, but at a significant savings.
“Painters have seen plenty of masking tapes come and go,” he said. “They know what they need in terms of performance—features such as sharp edge tape lines, improved adhesion without damaging the substrate, masking tape that doesn’t break apart upon removal, improved moisture resistance (or waterproof like our DaVinci Blue Masking Tape and DaVinci Gold Washi Tape), and higher heat tolerances. Vibac can provide these attributes in a concise line of products.”
Your issue, of course, is that you need space to put all this, and money to invest if you’re going to take on a new line. “Shelf space and inventory dollars is and always will be a strong concern of paint store owners,” said Don. While tape displays haven’t grown in size, they’ve grown in scope, mainly due to niche products.
Back to “concise;” Applegate continues that three key products in Vibac’s DaVinci Line will take care of almost every issue. “Between our DaVinci Contractor 220, DaVinci Blue 314, and DaVinci Gold 319, a paint contractor, paint dealer, or home owner can handle most any everyday tape need. We feel that our line lets you offer a full range of products for most any project—tape for general purpose, premium, interior, exterior, delicate surface, long release time, heat resistance, UV resistance, moisture resistance, waterproof, sharp edge paint lines, and release without splintering or slivering. With these three key products—DaVinci Contractor, DaVinci Blue, and DaVinci Gold—we can hit all these performance attributes.
You can add a couple more—DaVinci Green 226 and DaVinci Premium Tan 312—if you want some in between SKUS, but three is all you need.”
So, get to stickin’.