Small but mighty, and soft.
Accent and bath rugs of Rugs 21% Note: Table made from pie chart. 2015 2016 ACCENT & BATH RUGS % CHANGE +2.1% $1,240 $1,266 Note: Table made from bar graph.
Bath and accent rugs saw a slight increase in 2016, growing 2.1 percent to $1.27 billion. Ideal impulse items at retail, both bath and accent rugs are easy ways for consumers to freshen up their decor.
Similar to the area rug category, both bath and accent rugs also have benefited from developments in synthetic yarns, digital printing and other emerging materials and technologies.
While bath rugs complete a look in the bathroom, they also present several challenges for manufacturers, said Bart Hill, senior vice president of product and operations, Mohawk Home. The bath rug category is such a mature one, and the traditional basic cut pile bath rug follows the colors of the towel category, he said. Mohawk has about 42 percent of the bath rug market, he said, and the majority of that is dyed nylon, which is "our wheel house."
Bath rugs also don't translate well online, unlike area rugs, Hill added. "It's a challenge to sell it online"--as it is for towels, which is another category where "the consumer really wants to see and feel it in person." Bath rugs are more of a cash-and-carry business, he said, and the distribution is highly concentrated in brick-and-mortar retailers.
The bath rug category is "a commodity business," Hill said. "We'll never see 4 percent growth in it--or a 4 percent loss."
Like accent and area rugs, however, "softness is very important to the bath rug category," Hill said.
Accent rugs encompass a wide range of groups--from welcome and utility mats to faux fur and fringed scatter rugs--for any space of the home, indoors and out. With an accent rug, the consumer can express her personality or the season--and perhaps go outside her comfort zone in terms of colors and designs--without spending a lot of money.
With kitchens serving as the heart of the home, the kitchen rug category also continues to grow, as consumers want both fun designs to add some pop, as well as comfortable, cushioning options for those times spent cooking. The kitchen rug category is still small for Mohawk, Hill added, though growing.
Mohawk Home is a dominate player in decorative rugs, Hill said, including in functional molded mats such as welcome mats. Those are made of "crumb rubber," or recycled tires, he explained, for which Mohawk uses 40 million pounds of tires every year. Mohawk Home's accent rugs fall into either its area rug or floor mat division, depending on the type of rug. The company's floor mat category is up 6 percent to 7 percent, he added.
Consumers also crave soft yarns--the softer the better--and manufacturers have been able to create synthetic yarns that are both softer and more durable. Other technologies have allowed for better printing, including digital printing, which allow companies to replicate images with realism that wasn't achievable only a few years ago, and include photography or mimicking handmade qualities.
Consumers' love for their animals has also resulted in the surge of pet-themed designs--both cats and dogs, the cuter the better. Designs that appeal to Millennials as well as coastal looks are other popular themes in accent rugs.
By Andrea Lillo