Brand Story

James Hardie

Choosing the dream.

Back in the 1990s an Australian siding manufacturer named James Hardie, totally unknown in the USA, boldly entered the American market.

The company did have a unique offering. They had developed a home siding product made from two surprising ingredients: Australian trees and concrete. At the time we met them, the company commanded only .5% of the US market. The product – now well known – is Hardieplank. A name that incorporates a primary product feature - durable cement.
James Hardie needed to capture a greater piece of the US market, but their product was the most expensive in the category. They asked us how they could position their brand in consumers’ minds to overcome the barrier of having to pay a substantial upcharge for siding.

In reviewing all of their marketing materials for the trade and for the home buyers, we saw a lot of great looking houses, but not much else. All of James Hardie’s marketing messaging was functional and trade oriented. Everything had a generic look.

"They asked us how they could position their brand in consumers' minds to overcome the barrier of having to pay substantial upcharge for siding."
Then, they guided us to a housing development where buyers could choose a generic siding brand or the more durable and more expensive Hardieplank. We interviewed both groups of customers with our Right Brain methodology to uncover why people were spending the extra money to buy their brand.

We discovered that people who choose Hardieplank are not just buying a house – they are buying a dream home to stand the test of time. They want safety, security, a sense of community and a home where they can feel the pride of ownership.
And they need reassurance that they are going to be able to fulfill their dreams.

With the insights our Right Brain research revealed, James Hardie took a new approach to their marketing materials and their messaging. They decided market their houses as homes with a warm look, featuring families, pets, back yards depicting people living their dream. James Hardie began to encourage builders to convey the following message to prospects: “A Hardieplank home is the foundation of living your dream life.”

Our Results

Sales began to pick up as more and more customers in each development began to select Hardieplank instead of the cheaper options. Then several years later, James Hardie told us that our discoveries helped them to anticipate a major transformation in the building industry.

They told us that the entire market began to
move away from the “McMansion” approach toward smaller homes, focusing more on character, community and security needs -the very same needs we had uncovered in the first project we did for them. First this trend emerged as a niche market, then soon morphed into a mainstream opportunity followed by consumer expectations of excellent endurance in siding materials.
Discovering how the emotional needs of James Hardie’s customers drive their buying decisions turned out to be the secret to their success in the US. Targeting these emotional needs allows a brand to be the first on the playing field with a creative new solution.

The Bottom Line:
James Hardie has seen a meteoric rise in its business. When we first worked for the brand, they had a 0.5% of the market share; today James Hardie boasts nearly 20% of the market.

From 0.5% to 20% Market Share
James Hardie