Digital Magazine

Wraps, Wipes, and All that Jazz

NEW ORLEANS, LA, USA—The Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry (INDA) welcomed more than 500 attendees to its 2003 Vision Consumer Products Conference, held January 26-29 at the New Orleans Marriott Hotel. According to newly appointed president Joe Weinkam, the association enjoyed a healthy 30% increase in attendance over its first such conference held last year.

The sessions began with a Consumer Products Workshop headed by Carol Berning, research fellow, Victor Mills Society, The Procter & Gamble Co. As part of her presentation, “Getting in Touch with Consumers,” Berning had prearranged for 19 attendees to visit with consumers in their homes and in stores to see how they are using nonwoven products and how they make the purchase decision. In Part I of the workshop, Berning provided tips and techniques to elicit rich, meaningful response from consumers.

Part II of the workshop, “When the Consumer is Boss,” was held the next day as Berning and her team of volunteers provided the results of their research. Berning explained the need to consider not only the functionality of the product but also the emotional experience of using the product (especially in the case of facial and baby wipes), and to make sure the package adds to the experience.

Donald J. Hollinger, business manager at 3M Filtrete, offered an excellent example of this type of consumer awareness in his presentation, “Transforming the Residential Filter Market from Commodity to High Value.” Hollinger explained how 3M moved the market for furnace filters from a low-margin spun fiberglass product to a higher-margin nonwoven product by focusing on its better performance in protecting people — as opposed to protecting the furnace — and by offering the consumer choices based on health issues, such as asthma and allergies.

John Bouda, director of the National Assn. for Continence, reinforced this message in the presentation “Pulling for Your Customer? Understand their Needs!” Bouda encouraged attendees to target and learn about end-users of incontinence products as well as the people who take care of the users. He reminded the audience of the necessity to appreciate diversity among end-users. Teens with cystic fibrosis, young mothers recovering from delivery, post-operative cancer survivors, consumers with late-stage diabetes, and injured athletes don't want the same product as an elderly person in a nursing home.

Bouda recommended integrating all essential elements — including the packaging — and thinking comprehensively. He urged attendees to “seek to understand how incontinence is managing lives and routines, not how incontinence is being managed.”

Choosing from a field of six nominees, conference attendees voted FMJ ChemBio, San Diego, CA, the winner of the 2003 Visionary Award for its new Civilian Quick Escape Mask.

For more information contact INDA at 919/233-1210 or visit inda.org.

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