Branding and exclusivity in stone tiles: When is Crema Marfil not Crema Marfil?


Crema Marfil stone, which means ‘Ivory Cream’ in Spanish, is extracted from the El Coto quarry located in Pinoso (Alicante). It is the largest marble quarry in the world, owned by Levantina.

Levantina describes the stone as “internationally recognized as the best cream marble. Its chromatic wealth, excellent finish, unbeatable physical qualities and its resistance to impact, combined with a low coefficient of water absorption make it the preferred option among all architects and creators when choosing Ivory Cream.”

While you’d expect this sort of marketing information from the manufacturer, the quarry is certainly enormous (as the picture below shows), and amongst architects and interior designers, it’s fair to say that it’s a popular, well-known material.

Crema Marfil tiles UK suppliers

I have noticed a great many Crema Marfil products available for sale – is this simply because it is a very popular product?

The rules for sale only require a supplier or distributor to state the country of origin, but there are no regulations relating to product names. A tile branded as ‘French limestone’ might come from a quarry in Turkey or Israel, for example. A product can even be named as Crema Marfil stone when it does not originate from the Spanish quarry. The protected status of Champagne, AOC cheeses or Melton Mowbray pork pies does not exist here.

Crema Marfil, by Lapicida Stone Group

Is there a brand exclusivity issue here? The phrase Crema Marfil may be being used more generically, to denote any cream marble that is like Crema Marfil. Or is this simply copycat products piggybacking on the name of a successful product? Iconic furniture pieces such as the Barcelona chair have suffered a similar fate- although imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, it can sometimes erode the perceived quality of a brand. When a name becomes a generic term – as with Thermos flask, Hoover or Barbour jacket – it can be representative of ubiquitous success.

Crema Marfil- Mandarin Stone

I’d expect Levantina to be concerned about protecting their brand, because designers and more importantly buyers, may be comparing cheaper products to the genuine article without being aware of the difference.

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