Building materials have for long remained functionality driven products. Technological breakthroughs typically permeate almost equally to every manufacturer.
Companies retain their edge over competitors through effective distribution channels and consumer communication. Branding is an effective exercise to promote awareness and differentiate product offerings. With a general increase in the standard of living world over, there is an increasing consumer preference for aesthetic products. This has opened up another frontier of competition among players. Looks and external appearance of buildings is molding the consumption pattern in building materials industry. Glass, for instance, has acquired significance as an important building material for its ability to transmit natural light inside the rooms. Glass is also cherished for its aesthetic appeal and energy efficiency.
With growth in the building materials market being strongly linked to the construction industry, the word economic recession, not surprisingly weakened sales in the international market. Developed regions like North America and Europe bore the brunt of the slowdown while developing countries given their relatively higher national savings at both the government and household levels witnessed a relatively cushioned impact. Distortions in market conditions, such as tightening lending norms, paralyzed credit markets, declining investment activity, falling property values and rentals, weakening business confidence which put into limbo expansion plans in commercial property, rising office vacancies, rising levels of unemployment, reduced household wealth and spending, declining home ownership, have together severely debilitated the residential housing and commercial construction sectors. The magnitude of disruptions can be thrown into sharp relief by the fact that applications for new building permits declined radically, especially in the developed countries. Weakened financial muscle of both residential homeowners and commercial property owners/establishments, has resulted in project postponements, cancellations, and delays in completion of existing contracts/assignments.
The credit squeeze in financial markets especially made it difficult for builders and consumers to obtain mortgages for building or purchasing properties. Remodeling projects declined thus pinching demand for building material stemming from modernization and reconstruction of aging buildings. As a result, drastic declines in new orders resulted in knock on effects of reduced demand for building materials. The period also witnessed declines in prices of building materials and slower pace of price hikes, thus exerting pressure on manufacturer profitability.
While roller coaster ride of the great recession made players in the developed markets queasy and looking for the nearest exit, the business environment in Asia was relatively positive. Although late to succumb to the recessionary pressures, Asia is forecast to make a quick and rapid recovery. With US, and Europe following a “U” shaped recovery pattern, while Brazil, Russia, India and China, among other developing countries following a faster “V” shaped recovery pattern, Asia-Pacific, and Latin America will emerge to turbo-charge future growth in the market. The relative resilience of the Asian market stems from continued investments in public infrastructure, sustained momentum in government spending and the fact that economic activities as a whole are placed better in developing regions of Asia and Latin America, than the mature, developed countries.
However, as the year 2010 limps out on a broken economy, improvement in the business environment and recovery in growth is forecast to be on cards in-sync with the recovery in residential and non-residential buildings construction. Projected increase in public construction activity will pave way for greater consumption of building material. Resurgence in infrastructure spends, improvement in liquidity situation, softening of interest rates, continued urbanization, will all help drive growth back into fore. Additionally, government sponsored economic stimulus packages for construction industry will help drive demand for building materials in the short to medium term period. The robust growth projections for building materials market in developing markets such as China and India is expected to prop up global growth patterns.
As stated by the new market research report, Asia-Pacific is the fastest growing regional market for building materials over the analysis period 2007-2015. Growth is primarily driven by strong construction activities as a result of mass exodus of manufacturing, and production bases to low cost Asian countries, continuous industrialization in regional powerhouses such as China and India, increasing income levels, higher spending power, improving standards of living, and resulting higher demand for residential and commercial constructions. By product, Cement and Concrete represents the largest segment, while Bricks represents the fastest growing product market worldwide.
Major players operating in the marketplace include Aditya Birla Group, Asahi Glass Company Limited, Ashland Inc., Associated Materials Inc, Boral Limited, Boral Bricks Inc., CEMEX S.A.B. DE C.V., Cimentos de Portugal SGPS SA., CRH Plc, CSR Limited, Daiken Corporation, Dal-Tile International Inc., Dow Building Materials, Dyckerhoff AG, Eczacibasi Group, Florida Tile Inc., GAF Materials Corporation, Hanson Limited, HeidelbergCement AG, Holcim Ltd., Holcim Australia Pty. Ltd., Italcementi S.P.A, James Hardie Industries NV, Kubota Matsushitadenko Exterior Works Ltd (KMEW), Lafarge SA, Lanka Tiles, Mohawk Industries Inc., Pilkington United Kingdom Ltd., Plum Creek Timber Company Inc., Saint-Gobain, Siam Cement Public Company Limited, Sumitomo Osaka Cement Co. Ltd., Taiheiyo Cement Corporation, US Tile Company, USG Corporation, White River Hardwoods-Woodworks Inc., and Wienerberger Baustoffindustrie AG.
The research report titled “Building Materials: A Global Strategic Business Report” announced by Global Industry Analysts, Inc., provides a comprehensive review of market trends, drivers, issues, trends, company profiles, mergers, acquisitions and other strategic industry activities. The report provides market estimates and projections in value sales for US, Canada, Japan, Europe (France, Germany, Italy, UK, Spain, Russia and Rest of Europe), Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Latin America. Product markets analyzed in the report include Aggregates (Sand and Gravel, and Crushed Rock) Cement and Concrete (Cement, Concrete Products, and Ready-Mixed Concrete), Bricks, Tiles, Glass, Metal, Timber and Other Building Materials.