New campaign promotes wool's benefits

Mark Shadbolt, executive director of WNZ, says it is time to reintroduce the world to the...
Mark Shadbolt, executive director of WNZ, says it is time to reintroduce the world to the benefits of wool. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Recent experiments in Japan measured the efficiencies of using wool carpet versus a synthetic option in two identical houses.

The wool option resulted in electricity savings of between 8% to 13%, with additional savings of up to 12% for cooling under the same conditions.

It is one of the fast facts contained in an informative and highly stylised campaign, designed to educate international frontline carpet and other retailers on the benefits of strong wool.

The "back to basics" approach is the brain child of wool sales and marketing company Wools of New Zealand (WNZ), in the belief that frontline retailers are neglecting the natural benefits of the fibre in the rush to sell synthetic product.

The heart of the programme is a 12-part "wool benefits" marketing campaign, which the company says has resonated strongly with local and international customers alike.

"The messages are simple, premised on the fundamentals of style, people and planet, but backed by case studies and research, to give frontline retailers and others throughout the supply chain the confidence to promote crossbred wool as a truly sustainable, naturally occurring fibre," WNZ executive director Mark Shadbolt, said.

The creativity of the approach was recognised with a flooring innovation award for marketing this month at this year's National Flooring Innovation Awards at Harrogate in the UK.

Mr Shadbolt said recognition in a key market like the UK was a great start.

"British consumers are the highest per capita consumers of wool carpets in the world, so it is important that we reiterate the amazing benefits of the fibre."

"On a wider scale, there has been a significant increase in demand for certified wool and fully traceable products from brands looking for a trust mark for consumers, so Wools of New Zealand wool ticks those boxes," he said.

The marketing material and initiative also has appeal for wool growers. West Otago grower Lloyd Brenssell, who runs 41,000 stock units on his 10,500 hectare property, said sheep farmers have been looking for something to happen with the marketing of wool for some time. Three years ago, wool from his Fernvale property at Moa Flat sold for an average $6 a kilogram. This year about half of that sales price was achieved.

"This is an exciting initiative for the promotion of crossbred wool. I have finally been shown something that will inform the general public about the attributes of wool, and we need to continue distributing material of this kind and getting it in front of consumers," he said.

Mr Brenssell said part of the current problem was the public's lack of appreciation of the natural qualities of the fibre.

"People simply don't understand wool and its qualities. We get a lot of negative publicity about the perceived effects of our operations on the environment, yet here we are, producing a natural and sustainable product that will not take years to break down.

"Government is very vocal around plastic use and plastic waste; what we should also be shouting about on the environmental side are the natural products that our farmers produce."

The approach has also been recognised by major UK retail group John Lewis, a significant retail partner for leading carpet manufacturer Ulster Carpets.

Andrew Gicquel, retail sales manager at Ulster Carpets, said that they had worked with Wools of New Zealand for a number of years, notably to develop the popular Open Spaces Auckland, Queenstown and Wellington Stripe ranges.

"It can be overwhelming for retailers to communicate the extensive range of benefits offered by wool, but this marketing programme has made the process much easier and more effective. Combined with our own initiatives, this can only help create a better understanding of the many attributes and benefits of wool, providing retail staff and ... consumers with more confidence around selecting and buying wool-rich carpets."

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