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Juliana Barnes

VIEWS: 3 PAGES: 6

									                                      My New Product


       After surveying family and friends ages 16 to 48, it was clear that both students
and working adults view time as their most valuable resource and are keenly interested in
discovering a more efficient means for accomplishing household chores. Laundry and
dishwashing were frequently cited as areas where young and middle-aged consumers are
eager for time-saving improvements, and the idea of a nonwoven, disposable “dish wipe”
was met with considerable enthusiasm. Its appeal was based upon the idea that such a
product would eliminate the need for traditional dishwashing, the loading and unloading
involved in the use of automatic dishwashers, and the unwelcome sight of kitchen sinks
filled with dirty dishes. A disposable dish wipe would conserve water and allow the
consumer to rub utensils and tableware to a quick-drying, residue-free clean and put them
away. Such a product would be in alignment with the three key attributes that make new
product development so important: it would provide a new function, it would be
attractive, and it would help the consumer to do something better.


Ever since the Kao Corporation in Tokyo, Japan in 1989 (Teng 2) introduced the first
nonwoven wipe, we have lived in the “Age of Wipes.” We use them to clean our hands
and our bodies, our babies, our floors and household surfaces, and improve our
complexions. In the February 2003 issue of Nonwovens Industry, Procter & Gamble’s
Karl Ronn, research and development manager for home care products observed that
today, “Everybody...multitasks,” and “that for people with time scarcity, it (the wipe) is
of high value” (3). Andy Teng, author of Wiping Up Profits notes that “consumers...are
the reason why the wipes market continues to gain momentum...whether it’s for
convenience, space savings or sanitary reasons, home wipe use is at an all-time high...as
private label marketers try to cash in on the category dominated by the likes of P&G and
Clorox” (1). With cleaning cloth products displaying a growth pattern similar to that for
cleaning tools (Teng 3), Euromonitor, a market research firm places the current global
retail value of wipes at more than $3.9 billion, in a market that is 70% consumer-based
(Teng 2). Another marketing research firm, Information Resources, Inc., has compiled
data that would indicate two significant trends: wipe sales in general continue to grow,
and the market for them is becoming increasingly segmented as consumers are drawn to
those items “targeted for task-specific” use (Teng 2).


In a receptive marketplace, a disposable 9” x 12” dish wipe could be introduced as a
compatible product without competition and targeted for use in the average household,
vacation residence, or the college dormitory. The dish wipe could be made available in
two varieties, one for china, and a thicker, more textured version for pots and pans. As
are many existing household and personal wipes, the dish wipe would be constructed
from a hydroentangled or spun-lace web, and possible fiber contents might include 100%
viscose for a light-weight wipe, or a blend of pulp and polyester for a heavier wipe
(Allied Hygiene 1-2). Product weight and width would be established during web
processing and additional technical criteria would be similar to that used for wipes
manufactured by Swicofil and described on their website: strength and extrusion
capabilities during high-speed converting processes, absorption and fluid transport
qualities, density, porosity, and a flexible combination of nonabrasiveness and rigidity
conducive to packaging type and intended end-use (Swicofil 1).


The dish wipe would be manufactured using spun-laced technology because according to
Andy Teng, flexibility in both design and manufacturing have made hydroentangled
products the preferred choice among key wipes marketers, including those in Europe and
Japan, who are attracted to the range of pattern choices that allow converters to increase
bulk for a more cloth-like feel (5). In terms of thickness, the dish wipe would compare
favorably with some of the more plush varieties of baby wipes currently on the market,
and would be saturated with a grease-cutting detergent. A textured surface comparable to
dotted Swiss material would facilitate the removal of food. As “fiberwebs are quick and
inexpensive to produce” (Kadolph, Langford 246), research and development money
could be spent on how the cleaning agent could be dispensed without leaving a soapy
residue or an after taste. Again, hydroentanglement would be an advantage, because in
the absence of glue or binder resins, the wipe would remain resistant to solvents and
would not disintegrate when combined with them. Additionally, when treated with anti-
microbial agents, the wipe would improve the dish-cleaning process by destroying
microorganisms (Allied Hygiene 2). Although product specifications would contribute
significantly to the cost of the dish wipe, Andy Teng points out that “consumers who
value the convenience are willing to accept the premium...and are likely to dole out
more” (3).


In terms of product development for the disposable dish wipe, Katharina Rath, the wipes
director for Europe, BBA Nonwovens, as quoted by Teng, states that: “Today, consumer
product companies are talking directly to the nonwovens producers, instead of the
converters” (5). In light of Teng’s pronouncement, the versatility and adaptability of
conventional textile processes and equipment would allow existing fibers and bonding
styles to be utilized in the production of the dish wipe without excessive capitalization. In
addition to tackling the residue issue, research and development might also include input
from health care professionals to address any potential for skin irritations. An investment
in consumer education would also have to be made to address any relevant concerns on
the part of the purchaser.


The prototype could be given a trial run in a user group representative of the general
consumer population: high schoolers required to participate in family chores, college
students housed in kitchen-equipped dorm suites, apartment-based single professionals,
at-home parents of both genders, and seniors residing in assisted or independent living
situations. An initial market test could be conducted during the summer in a vacation
community with a substantial seasonal visitor population. For those temporarily residing
in housekeeping units with small kitchens and limited storage space, quick and easy after-
meal clean-ups would be a necessity and allow more time for recreational activities.


Packaging would be critical to the marketing of the product—the dish wipe container
would have to look inviting and be easy to use and store. A tissue-box style receptacle
would dispense the dish wipe through a half-inch horizontal opening at the top covered
with a clear, flip-top plastic lid to ensure that the wipes remained moist. The container
could be made available in a variety of decorative styles: high-tech, New England
farmhouse, Southwest, tropical paradise, and holiday themes. Emphasis would be on
convenience, efficiency, the space-saving aspects of the product (no dishwasher
required), and the conservation of valuable consumer and environmental resources: time
and water.


Given the substantial number of new products introduced into the wipes market over the
last five years, the introduction of disposable dish wipe would not only be timely, it
would also be a sound investment. As Teng notes in Wiping Up Profits, “Subtle shifts in
market trends will drive new technology. After all, no one is willing to risk a substantial
investment on a hunch” (4).




                                       References


Allied Hygiene: Manufacturers of Wet Wipes and Dry NonWoven Cloths.
   http://www.allied-paper.co.uk/english/hydromax.htm


Kadolph, Sara J and Langford, Anna L. Textiles. Upper Saddle River New Jersey:
   Merrill. 1998. P 246.


Swicofil AG Textile Services. Swicofil. http://www.swicofil.com/nonwoven.html


Teng, Andy. “Wiping Up Profits.” Nonwovens Industry. February 2003. Pgs 1-6.
   http://www.nonwovensindustry.com/February031.htm

								
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