Five Products To Compete For Visionary Award

By Karen McIntryre, Senior Editor | January 7, 2013

This year's lineup includes wipes, a filter, a freshener pad and an elasticized hood.

A highlight of the Vision Conference, which will be held this month in Orlando, FL, will be the Visionary Award competition, which has recognized innovation in nonwovens-based consumer products since the conference began in 2002. Pooled from many applicants, this year’s five finalists include a wipe specifically aimed at men, a filter, a protective hood, a wiper made to fight grime and a panty freshener. Each of these five new consumer products, which were selected by INDA’s Technical Advisory Board, utilize nonwoven fabrics in an innovative manner and were launched within the last 12 months.

Representatives from each of the five finalist companies will make presentations on their products during the Vision Conference, which will be held January 28-31, 2013 at the Rosen Centre Hotel in Orlando, FL. Conference attendees will vote on the recipient of the 2013 Visionary Award.

Last year’s Bissell’s Stomp ‘N Go Stain Lifting Pad, a tool to remove stains from carpets, was honored with the Visionary Award.

Introducing a new customer

As a newly minted college graduate living in a house full of single men, Sean Riley found himself constantly buying cases of baby wipes which he and his friends used for various purposes, mainly related to hygiene. He found that once people started using premoistened wipes, they became a part of their daily routine, an epiphany that led to the creation of Dude Wipes, one of this year’s five finalists.

Billed as the product the adult moist tissue market has been waiting for, Dude Wipes incorporated special packaging and humorous niche driven branding to change male hygiene routines and behavior, according to Riley.  Dude Wipes are wallet-sized and perfect for guys to stay fresh wherever or whenever nature calls. With uses ranging from the bathroom, pre- or post gym cleanup or a quick shower, Dude Wipes are flushable, biodegradable and contain vitamin E.

“We found that once people started using wipes, they became part of their routine,” Riley says.
One of the major upsides of the product is it falls outside the scope of traditional wipes products, which are geared toward babies, women and cleaning applications.

“This product is really creating new customers for wipes,” Riley says. “We are introducing so many people into the wipes market, probably 80% of the guys using this product have not used wipes before.”

New to the world of nonwovens, Riley spent a lot of time researching substrate technology before developing Dude Wipes, which was made through a collaboration with Rockline Industries.

“We really went a long way to find the right nonwoven,” he adds. “We wanted something flushable and dispersible.”

Riley says he felt these attributes would help attract more customers to this product in a target market that is tough to influence.

“You’re dealing with somebody who is 25 years old. It’s not the easiest thing to break them into doing something new in the hygiene routine. People are going to do things the way they do,” he says.

Dude Wipes were launched in July 2012 and are currently sold online and in a number of small specialty stores.

Creating a new wipes subcategory

Grime Boss, Nice-Pak’s latest brand of high performance wipes, provides a dual scrubbing action solution with one tough and one smooth side.  Available in a range of varieties, Grime Boss’ unscented wipes, target outdoor activities, are the ones in contention for this year’s Visionary Award.

“Given our rich history, we have leveraged a lot of innovation to develop this proprietary wipe and formula to fill an unmet market need,” says brand manager Michael Tiger. “This isn’t just about another new wipe product. We see this as pioneering a new subcategory of wipes, which focuses on heavy duty cleaning.”

Tiger adds that the wipes have been proven to remove a number of messes ranging from oil to paint and can even remove odors, which is especially beneficial when being used by hunters or fishermen. 

“The product cleans such a large range of messes, that we have even heard consumers refer to it as ‘a miracle product’,” he says.

A subsidiary of Nice-Pak, one of the world’s largest consumer wipes manufacturers, Grime Boss is the latest development in a portfolio historically focused on private label wipes. The unscented version of Grime Boss targets outdoor sports and activities such as hunting and fishing. Right now, it is distributed in outdoor specialty stores like Bass Pro. Other products in the Grime Boss portfolio include a citrus scented version, which is being sold in retailers like Auto Zone, Pep Boys and Home Depot.

“We see this as pioneering a new subcategory of wipes which focuses on heavy duty cleaning around hands and skin as well as surfaces.”

Grime Boss is made in the USA, has an ultra-moisturizing formula with aloe and vitamin E to keep hands moist, and includes no harsh chemicals. Grime Boss’s unscented product was launched in October 2012.

A stackable filter

The Diversitech Merv 8+ filter is made using a proprietary overmolding process, competing against pleated filters made with cardboard frames as well as other media with wire backing. “The Difference about this product is the frame is overmolded over the media—essentially it ends up being one part and doesn’t use glue or anything to hold it together,” says vice president of research and product development, Kevin Platt. “One of the big advantages is it’s nestable so it takes up 50% less space because they stack on top of each other.”

It is reasons like this why it is in contention for this year’s Visionary Award.

Additionally, the fact that this one-component filter is made from one material makes it easier to recycle, more resistant to damp conditions and very durable. “You can even stand on it without it being permanently damaged,” Platt adds. “This durability greatly reduces its chance of damage in shipping, handling and installation.”

A wholesaler of a number of products within the heating ventilation and air conditioning distribution network, Diversitech has never before made a filter product. Platt says the company decided to enter this realm after its customers—installers and repairers of HVAC systems—reported problems with current media offerings.

“Diversitech is large in the HVAC wholesale distribution trade so our customers are the folks that come and repair air conditioners, sell to the installers and repair people, and sell a little to the big box stores,” Platt says.

Diversitech sourced the media within the filter from Kimberly-Clark; the frame comes from Diversitech’s current facility. The new product was first launched in October and is now available only in select cities.

Stretch to protect

VitaFlex Soft-stretch Hood is an innovative nonwoven product that protects workers in a variety of industries in a greener and less expensive fashion. Using proprietary elastic nonwovens technology, the hood effectively covers the entire scalp, face and neck, allowing freedom of movement and ensuring comfort.

VitaFlex founding partner De-Sheng Tsai originally developed the technology while working for DuPont. While DuPont briefly marketed the technology as Engineered Elastic Technology, the company felt it did not fit with its business strategy and now licenses it to VitaFlex which is also owned by textile veteran Al Blalock.

VitaFlex was formed in 2009. In addition to the stretchable hood product, the company sells the stretchable nonwoven material to customers in a number of industries. The company plans to expand its direct-to-customer product offerings in the near future.

Uses for the hood range from spray painting, powder coating, insulation, spray foam, fiberglass insulation, chicken farmers, chemical plants, metal fabricator manufactures, etc., according to Blalock. Currently, the hoods are being sold in 300 Loews stores on a trial basis and are expected to sold at the retailer nationwide early this year.

Unlike other stretchable substrates, this technology does not use an elastomeric polymers to achieve the stretch. Instead, it uses proprietary technology to make it stretchable while still offering breathability.

“The removal of an elastomer makes the product a lot less expensive and it can be made more quickly,” Blalock explains. “This also makes a much greener product.”

According to Blalock, to develop the stretchable nonwoven, the company takes an outsourced rigid spunbond polyester nonwoven and adds the proprietary process to elasticize it. This technology was first patented by Shih in 2009 after six or seven years of efforts.

Beyond the hood product, VitaFlex hopes to expand into medical, food safety and cleanroom applications, where it again will go straight to the consumer market. “

“We chose to go straight to the end user because it was better to build loyalty,” Blalock says. “We think we serve the end user better than our distributor would. In fact I know we would.”

Chasing a new consumer

In July 2012, Kimberly-Clark launched the market’s first line specifically targeting menopausal women. Included in the five-product Poise Wellness line are panty fresheners, quarter-sized adhesive pads that can be worn within or outside of the panty, offering daily freshness on the go.

“These fresheners are a part of a first-of-its kind line that offers solutions for menopausal women by giving choices that women have not had before,” explains  brand spokesperson Paula Winkel.

Citing statistics that show 90% of women experience at least one menopausal symptom—night sweats, mood swings, etc.—and 50% experience multiple symptoms, Winkel says that the product line is a great opportunity for K-C to target a new population segment. Currently there are 50 million women in North America either approaching or experiencing menopause.
In addition to the fresheners, the Poise Wellness line includes a personal lubricant, a roll-on cooling gel, body cooling towelettes and a feminine wash.

The panty fresheners are equipped with a clean and fresh scent that lasts up to four hours and are packaged in small, discrete packaging that can be carried in a woman’s purse or wallet.
The line follows a K-C company strategy toward segmentation whereby the company strives to better understand its customers and what their needs are. Similar products were launched under the poise brand in Chile and Colombia in 2009. Not only were they successful on the marketplace, they also helped improve the profile of Poise—an adult incontinence brand—in Latin America.

“Based on the initial success of the poise Feminine Wellness line in Latin America, we anticipate these products will be well received by North American consumers,” says Jay Gottlieb, vice president, North America, adult and feminine care.              

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