Ben Aspinall, IT and marketing manager for composite door supplier Doorco, explores five key themes that are currently trending in the composite door sector, – from colour, to customer care.
My role as IT and marketing manager means I am really close to the door trends we see at Doorco. With an IT hat on, we operate a fully integrated IT-based manufacturing system that communicates orders, stock levels, capacity and allows us to create detailed reporting.
From a marketing perspective, as well as having access to sales analysis, we know what people ‘like’ on our social media. The power of marketing is also to drive trends. For example, it’s a well-known fact at Doorco, that whichever door is on the front of our brochure is always a best seller in that period!
Over the last 12 months, we have seen a massive shift in the norm and I am going to share five key trends which may surprise you:
1. Modern choices
There has been a definite shift in our best sellers since we came out of the first lockdown. Historically, traditional door styles have taken top billing and although our more modern door styles like Monza II, Farmhouse and Links have been growing in popularity, the volumes of sales over the last year has been unprecedented. So far in 2021, our best-selling door is the Farmhouse. In fact, nearly half the doors we’ve sold this year have been a Farmhouse design. Carnoustie is second place, closely followed by Monza II.
There is a definite shift towards colour throughout the fenestration industry and our painted door sales are up 55% on this time last year. In fact, we’re just in the process of extending our paint lines to keep up with demand. Tastes are getting bolder and the trend for pink doors – a movement started on social media by Instagram influencer Mrs Hinch and her Hinchers (as her followers are known) – is growing. Doorco launched its own pink door range, in aid of We Mind & Kelly Matters, last year with success. But even considering all this, grey is still king. Anthracite is our top selling standard colour, Doorco has 13 shades of grey in its current colour range, and in February, grey doors made up 38% of our sales.
Glass has a major impact on a door’s overall style and allows the consumer to add their own personal statement. Adding a modern glass like Bold Pink to a traditional door design like Lytham can really transform it into something contemporary. Glass supply has always been a challenge. We took the decision to massively invest in glass so we can supply direct and have better control, as well as increasing our range with bespoke designs. Our customers have really taken advantage of this: In the first two months of 2020, 34% of our doors were sold with glass (glazed and unglazed); this year that figure has increased to 79%. More interesting, our bespoke glazing service has increased by 148% in the same period.
4. Customers need more help
Glazing is just part of our flexible prepping service which our fabricator customers are increasingly making use of. There are several factors to this: Firstly, there’s no denying we’re in a home improvement boom (long may it last) and we’re all buzzing. Supply issues are widely reported, and some say the pandemic has taught us patience, but the ‘Amazon-inspired next day delivery’ want is still very apparent. There is still a demand for fast turnaround and we often get enquiries as to whether we can deliver a door quicker than they’ve been quoted by a competitor. Even with a Just in Time (JIT) delivery service for fabricators and short lead times across the board, more and more are turning to us for painting and prepping support to simply keep up with demand.
Secondly, we are all still operating under a lot of strain with health and safety constraints, social distancing and illness. As with everybody else, we’ve suffered with delays due to the global shipping crisis combined with sheer demand in some of the emerging trends we’ve mentioned above, but we’ve worked hard to overcome these issues and support our customers as best we can. Keeping our workforce healthy with stringent procedures and regular testing means we’ve been able to step in and support them during downtimes. Levels of prepping and painting have nearly doubled this year.
5. Marketing on Instagram
Over the last year, Doorco’s marketing strategy has changed to become more consumer facing. The biggest catalyst was the desperate need to keep our lines of communication open when we headed blindly into the first lockdown, to make sure we had leads to come back to. With many of the usual channels closed, we turned to social media and in particular, Instagram.
Instagram is picture-led; a place of inspiration, and property renovation is a big trend. There’s a whole network of renovators and self-builders, designers and influencers sharing their stories and there are some fun hashtags (like #ihaveathingwithdoors) that you can plug into.
For Doorco, it’s about brand awareness and lead-generation on behalf of our customers, although it has also become an influential platform for trades people, so we get trade enquiries too. We started sharing inspirational images of the things that make Doorco unique – Farmhouse, Monza II, a wide range of colour choices, a bespoke glass collection and our added value services.
This has certainly paid dividends – from an almost standing start, we have nearly 2,500 followers and get regular enquiries from homeowners that we can pass on to our customers.