Archive for April, 2010

By Green Experts Team

How to overcome the obstacles between you and environmentally responsible living.

This month Fortune held their Brainstorm Green conference, and, with the help of a panel of industry professionals, identified the main roadblocks keeping corporations from going green and adopting more environmentally responsible practices, which are:

  • Information Overload
  • Structural Limitations
  • Lack of Humility
  • Cultural Resistance
  • ROI Demands

All of these corporate limitations to green can also be applied you and your family as well. Even though organizations face these obstacles everyday, they don’t stop brands such as WalMart, SC Johnson, Clorox and Google from making strides in environmentally responsible operations – and they shouldn’t stop you either.

green home Maintaining Momentum Towards Green Living

Today’s post we’ll look at these obstacles, how the corporate world deals with them and how you can too.

Information Overload – With so many educational resources and brands communicating green, especially around Earth Day, it can be overwhelming to decide where to start and how to cipher through the messaging to choose your best options.  Take what you are hearing and instead of thinking of it as a massive to-do list, take a few minutes to sit down with your family or roommates and decide what options are best for your lives to start.

Structural Limitations – The constraints of your daily life shouldn’t be viewed as reasons that prevent the potential of your green lifestyle.  Finances and buy-in from all of your family members may not come easy, but what happened to working together to reach a solution that works for your budget and home needs.

Lack of Humility – No matter how dedicated you promise to be to living a green lifestyle, be honest with yourself and identify those simple changes you haven’t made yet. Start small and make a checklist like this handy printable one from Tweed Shire.  Brainstorm the smaller ideas and practice them on a daily basis.  When it comes to conservation and living a greener lifestyle, consistency is key – responsible living should be a habit.

Cultural Resistance – So green living became a popular trend and you started recycling, taking reusable grocery bags when shopping and cutting the lights and water to avoid waste.  Take it to the next level.  Green isn’t crunchy anymore – style and eco-living come hand in hand. Take a cue from green savvy celebrities like Natalie Portman, Cameron Diaz, Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio.

ROI Demands – Many homeowners decide they want to save on energy usage and plan to purchase efficient appliances and controls equipment for their home, only to do the research on these purchases, and realize that the savings won’t flood in the gates immediately.  Have patience when adopting a green lifestyle and try not to measure your decisions’ worth based on instant results and gratification.  The savings will add up over time.

Bottom line, there will always be roadblocks and adopting an eco-responsible life won’t be easy or cut and dry, but by consulting the right resources and with a large dose of patience living green becomes more and more feasible and pays back over time.

By Home IQ Team

1013 45 banner home industryinsider2 Black & Decker Shares Insights on Gardening & Lawn Care Trends

With the spring season in full effect and summer just around the corner, homeowners across the country are preparing for outdoor lawn care and gardening activities.  Our experts interviewed Black & Decker (IMRE client) Outdoor Program Manager, Kate Piche to gain some 2010 outdoor trend insights.

Home Intel (HI): What outdoor lawn care trends are you seeing for Spring 2010?

Kate Piche: “There is an increase in electric power equipment, specifically mowers. There were more electric mowers ranked by consumer reports this year than ever before. There are more reel mowers entering the market – good for small yards.”

HI: What trends are you seeing among the new outdoor products? Are there any specific product feature trends?

Kate Piche: “There is more of a [consumer] focus on gardening. A lot more people have taken up food gardening so there are more products related to that, and container gardening to go along with it.”

HI: Does geographic location impact outdoor lawn care behavior among consumers? Do different regions affect purchase decisions or behavior?

Kate Piche: “There is definitely a difference geographically because you can chart where the thaw comes throughout the country. There is a way to determine the season when growing starts again. There are certain plants that can only grow in certain regions of the country – if you don’t know what those are, you either have to use outside resources to research options or use a product like the ‘Easybloom’ by Black & Decker.”

HI: In your opinion, what are consumers most concerned with when they are choosing outdoor products to purchase?

Kate Piche: “Right now, consumers are looking for an economical product that is efficient and will get the job done. There is an increase in electric products and concern for the environment. Product purchase depends on your skill level and what you are trying to do in your yard.”

For more information on product trends from the experts, continue to check back in on a regular basis. With thousands of contacts at our fingertips, the Home Intel team is excited to share our knowledge and resources on a regular basis. In the coming weeks, you can expect to see more interviews as part of our Industry Insider series.

2010 Decking Trends

By Home IQ Team

It’s that time of year, and after such a long, cold winter, we are all dying to get outdoors and enjoy some time on the deck.

But how many of you walked outside in the past few weeks and realized that your deck was in dire need of staining and repair, or that your outdoor living space wasn’t all that is could be?

If the answer is yes, you are not alone.  Although the economy and the real estate market are showing signs of improvement, more and more people are choosing to invest in their current property and enhance their outdoor living space.  This is one of those improvements that hold its value come resale time, and a new deck is typically the first place to start.

According to AIA’s Home Design Trends Survey, Q1, 2008 and NAHB, Home of the Future Study, 2007, the outdoor living market has seen a 50 percent increase in just five years.  Growing interest in blended indoor/outdoor space is fueling demand for outdoor products and amenities, such as decking materials.

“Many homeowners are choosing the “staycation” route, spending more quality time in their backyards over traveling to take big summer vacations,” says Edie Kello, Director of Marketing for Fiberon, a composite decking manufacturer and IMRE client. “Enjoying a more relaxed lifestyle, homeowners want to have an outdoor living space that keeps its beauty year after year with little effort.”

There are many options to consider when building a new deck.  While many people still build decks with traditional wood, the alternative decking industry has exploded in recent years thanks to the performance features that composite and PVC decking and new surface technologies offer.

“In addition to stain, fade and scratch resistant attributes, aesthetics are at the top of the list when choosing a new deck,” says Kello.  “Customers considering alternative decking prefer the look of realistic wood colors and graining.  The industry has evolved in recent years and there are many options available that deliver durability and beauty that lasts.”

Screen shot 2010 04 14 at 3.01.41 PM 2010 Decking Trends

By Home IQ Team

1013 45 banner home industryinsider2 Industry Insider: 2010 Gardening Innovations and Trends

With spring in full bloom, the Home Intel team sat down with a leading manufacturer of gardening tools and IMRE client, Ames True Temper, to discuss new gardening trends consumers can expect this season. Pete Brenneman, director of marketing services, talks vegetable gardens, product innovations, research and development, and of course, going green.

Screen shot 2010 04 13 at 3.15.49 PM Industry Insider: 2010 Gardening Innovations and Trends

HI:   What are the biggest gardening trends consumers should look for this season?  And how have these trends impacted your business and the gardening industry as a whole?

Brenneman: Vegetable gardening continues to be a strong trend building on last year’s momentum of First Lady Michelle Obama’s White House garden planting, as well as the general economic climate.  It’s not news that eating healthy, getting outside and being active are important for kids and adults alike.  However, people are catching on that growing your own vegetables is not only good for your health, but it’s good for the environment and your wallet too.

Our industry has seen the impact of this trend in several areas already, including a run on seeds last season and increased demand for live plants. There has also been a thirst for knowledge from young people on how to build a garden, care for plants, and live a sustainable “green” lifestyle.  Going green translates naturally to the garden and outdoors.

HI:  With consumers’ growing demand for “green” products, are there any new gardening innovations that we should be aware of this year?

Brenneman: We’ve actually released two new lines of eco-friendly products this year in support of our commitment to sustainability and environmental consciousness.  The EcoGardener line of tools feature handles made from bamboo, a material that is abundantly available throughout the world and very sustainable.  The tools also include shovelheads made from recycled railroad steel, so we’re able to find a great “second life” for material that may otherwise sit in a scrap yard for decades.

We also released a new line of EcoGardener planters.  These colorful planting pots are constructed from rice husks and bamboo chaff and will eventually biodegrade on their own when left outside or in a landfill.  This will allow consumers to refresh their planters as colors and styles change without negatively impacting the environment when they dispose of their old pots.

We expect these eco-innovations to be popular with gardeners who, as a group, are already sensitive to their environmental impact.

HI: How does Ames stay ahead of the trends?

Brenneman: At Ames True Temper, we focus on the needs of our consumers by conducting in-the-field research on how they use our tools and what tasks they execute on a regular basis that could be made easier through updated tool design and features.  We organize working focus groups, tag-along with landscapers and contractors on jobsites, and work closely with educational groups, test gardens and botanical gardens throughout the year.  Then we bring back video, interviews, sketches and general feedback to our design and engineering teams to create innovative solutions that will help consumers get the jobs done more easily and efficiently.  We also work with ergonomists in the design process to insure that our tools are comfortable to use and reduce unnecessary fatique and stress.

HI:  As home gardeners look to buy new products and tools for gardening this spring, what are the most important tool attributes to be mindful of?

Brenneman: Gardeners should look for quality tools that are suited to the type of work they intend to tackle.  For example, if you want to dig holes, look for a round point shovelhead that’s designed to cut into the dirt.  But if the job is to define the boundaries of a garden bed, the right tool would be a square headed spade with a sharp edge or a broad, flat rounded tool called a half-moon edger that’s specifically designed for that task.

The right tool can make the work much easier.  You wouldn’t want to shovel a big pile of mulch with a digging shovel when you could use a bedding fork or a poly scoop to cut through the pile in a fraction of the time.  So ultimately, know the project you want to complete and work with a retail salesperson to help identify the right tool for the job.

HI:  For those first time-homeowners or gardening novices, what are the top five gardening tool “must-haves”?

Brenneman: Again, it depends on the type of gardening/outdoor project you want to tackle, however the five tools that any gardener – novice or expert – should have in their gardening tool kit, includes:

  1. Long handled round point shovel – general-purpose digging
  2. Garden or bow rake – smoothing out dirt or mulch and raking out stones or weeds
  3. Garden hoe – weeding and loosening the soil around plants
  4. Short handled garden spade or fork – turning and breaking up soil
  5. Wheelbarrow or cart – to move materials like soil, fertilizer, and compost easily

HI:  What hard garden lessons have you learned that you’d like to share with our readers?

Brenneman: Don’t wait for the weekend to do all the garden work at once. Gardening doesn’t need to be a daunting task if you spread out the work and do a little every day.  In fact, gardening has an amazing calming ability after a stressful day – so don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty and spend 20 minutes a day weeding or watering those emerging tasty vegetables that will be on your plate in just a few weeks!

Screen shot 2010 04 13 at 3.15.30 PM Industry Insider: 2010 Gardening Innovations and Trends

By Home IQ Team

1013 45 banner home industryinsider2 Industry Insider: Ames True Temper Talks Gardening Trends

We are excited to announce that we’ll be posting an exclusive interview with Pete Brenneman, director of marketing services at Ames True Temper (IMRE client) tomorrow morning. Stay tuned for our industry insider interview, which will focus on gardening trends consumers can expect this season.

Screen shot 2010 04 12 at 1.56.33 PM Industry Insider: Ames True Temper Talks Gardening Trends

2010 Outdoor Living Trends

By Home IQ Team

Homeowners Look to Bring the Indoors Out and Create Multifunctional Spaces

Over the past few weeks, signs of spring have been all around us as homeowners begin their yard maintenance, dust off their outdoor furniture and hit local garden centers for flowers that will boost their home’s curb appeal. After a brutal winter with more snow than many of us have seen in a while, people up and down the east coast (and across the country) are thrilled at the thought of spending the day outside and enjoying the warm breeze.

So, as we get our own backyards and patios ready for warmer weather, the Home Intel team wondered what types of outdoor living trends we would see this spring. After doing a bit of research, we have identified three key trends that homeowners are sure to see this year:

Screen shot 2010 04 12 at 10.02.27 AM 2010 Outdoor Living Trends

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By Home IQ Team

Screen shot 2010 04 05 at 8.41.20 AM Stay Current. Stay Relevant…and See Success!

If we’ve learned one thing in our business, it’s that to be successful, you need to understand the world around you – not just what’s taken place in the past (history is an often untapped resource) – but also what’s happening today.  It’s why we believe reading today’s news is critical.  With a firm understanding of history and clear view of current events, successful businesspeople are able to size up a situation, opportunity or threat to ultimately increase their relevancy and create success.

Easier said than done, right?  In our 24/7 world with endless to-do lists and industry changes happening hourly, you’re likely wondering how to keep up with it all.  Well, HOMEINTEL is here to help.  If you can find about an hour this week to set up a plan, and then schedule just 15 or 30 minutes every other day to read, you’ll become more informed about our industry…and use that information to meet your business goals – whatever they may be.

To help in your quest, we’ve outlined a few tips and some of our “go-to” news tracking staples that can help you stay on top of what’s happening…in real time. (more…)

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