By Ryan SpencerA competitive market like the spray foam industry brings numerous challenges to the businesses operating within it. SPF companies are engaged in ongoing chess matches of positioning and repositioning themselves. In some cases, the matches occur within SPF’s segment of the insulation market; that is, brand against brand. While competition between fellow SPF companies is unavoidable, it stands to reason that there are real gains to be made by taking on other segments of the insulation market.
“Instead of competing with each other for the same slice of market share, we should work together as a group to help move the needle and gain more of the market from traditional insulation,” said Paul Herrera Demilec’s Director of Marketing. “There is a lot of market share out there that we can all be a part of.”
There are tens of billions in market space, to be exact. Spray foam currently occupies about 38% of the $41 billion global insulation market (2014 estimate, Transparency Market Research). With roughly $25 billion in market share occupied by traditional insulating materials, there’s an enormous incentive to capture territory from inferior insulating products.
Granted, specifiers have become generally familiar in recent years with spray foam’s numerous advantages over traditional insulating materials; its performance speaks for itself. However, SPF is still largely regarded as a high-end alternative, which makes its specification budget-dependent. So, cheaper insulating materials have been able to maintain their market share by being specified on projects with tight budgets, or projects without strict adherence to green building principles.
“We’re always pushing, but we’re always fighting for the same space,” said Herrera. “We need a little bit of a pull as well.”
Ideally, the planning phase of every single project involving a building envelope should proceed as if the inclusion of spray foam is a forgone conclusion. This situation is a two-way street: not only should specifiers actively seek to incorporate spray foam’s advantages in their designs, but also consumers must demand to settle for nothing less than the benefits only SPF can offer. In other words, even when faced with tight budgets, specifiers and consumers should be more than willing to reallocate budget space for spray foam insulation.
“We’re trying to change the mindsets of the architects and builders out there,” said Herrera. “Even consumers and facility managers.”
Hampering this objective is the fact that, generally speaking, end users aren’t as familiar with high-performance building materials like spray foam as are specifiers, as you might expect. Consumers are substantially more informed about cosmetic features like cabinetry than they are about practical features like insulation. By not being up-to-date, consumers’ concept of insulation is shaped by the insulating materials of yesteryear, rather than high-performance spray foam insulation. It’s critical to break this cycle with focused messaging targeted at end users about why other insulating materials can’t compare to spray foam.
“If they’re unaware of what other building technologies are out there for insulation, and what the benefits are, they’re not asking,” said Herrera.
Of course, some consumers, particularly northerners, already understand the value of high-performance insulation and air sealing as it pertains to the size of their utility bills. However, the initial investment in spray foam can sometimes overshadow future savings. They may understand the long-term performance and financial benefits of SPF, but the upfront impact to their project budget poses a mental barrier to incorporating spray foam. Further complicating the matter is the fact that end users rarely see the finished product, as it’s hidden within walls and ceilings. If there’s any truth to the phrase “out of sight, out of mind,” then it’s unsurprising that consumers can be reluctant to seek out and invest in features lacking the conspicuous appeal of, say, expensive flooring. So, another major ongoing obstacle for the industry will be establishing spray foam as both a practical buy and an emotional buy in the minds of end users.
“We want to create some pull marketing where people hear about the benefits and sustainability of spray foam, and then actually ask about it,” said Herrera.
When consumers come knocking, SPF companies must be ready. Anything other than top-notch products and sound installations won’t cut it. The foremost concern should be ensuring consumers get what they’re paying for, and that contractors are installing what’s specified. To see this through, Demilec is devoting significant time and energy to supporting the industry’s training and certification initiatives, particularly SPFA’s Professional Certification Program, so that applicators throughout the industry are performing top-quality work.
“They’re the ones out there knocking on doors and installing foam,” said Herrera. “What we need to do is support them and supply them.”
Indeed, supply has been a major focal point for Demilec. With a newly christened state-of-the-art spray foam manufacturing facility, the company is all-in for guaranteeing that its contractors are prepared to handle whatever demand may grow to down the road. With regard to the insulation products themselves, Demilec has ensured that its current insulation brands, including Sealection 500 and Heatlok Soy 200, will be manufactured with the most reliable formulas, and that future products will be produced to the same exacting standards. To accomplish the latter, Demilec is bringing into fold industry veteran Tom Fishback as the Vice President of Research & Development (Fishback previously held the same position at Fomo).
“That’s part of it, building the resources,” said Herrera. “We’re finding new talents…those people who are going to take us to the next level.”
While the next level is where the industry as a whole wants to go, there’s a bit of a hill to climb before spray foam becomes the dominant material in the global insulation market. That being said, supremacy is within reach if spray foam companies focus on fundamentals like quality and execution, and rally around spray foam’s merits–there’s really no competition. •
Direct any questions you have about the industry’s leading spray foam products to Demilec:
Phone: 817-640-4900 | Website: www.demilecusa.com
Photos Courtesy of Demilec