A strategic analysis of the North American above-the neck personal protective equipment market from Frost & Sullivan found that the revitalization of the U.S. industrial sector – though slow – has contributed to the upswing in the market for above-the-neck PPE, as has the demand of the new generation of workers for safe working conditions and appropriate, employer-provided PPE.
Frost & Sullivan's Chemicals, Materials and Food practice says the above-the-neck PPE market earned revenue of $1.04 billion in 2013 and estimates that market will reach $1.21 billion in 2018. The market suffered with the recession in 2008 and began to show some improvement in 2010.
“Safety awareness and compliance could benefit from a more consistent level of regulatory enforcement in contract-oriented industries such as construction,” said Frost & Sullivan’s Heinze. “Above-the-neck PPE has not been subject to any significant regulatory updates, which has reduced the integration of new features that can help promote higher pricing and compliance. This lack of product differentiation has also made locally produced goods vulnerable to competition from low-cost imports.”
To remain competitive, companies are focusing on developing customizable and stylish products, increasing product variety, offering more services and leveraging acquisitions to grow their global footprint, improve market shares and integrate technologies.
“Some manufacturers are now able to market themselves as one-stop shops for safety products. By increasing their penetration across all PPE markets, suppliers are able to lower transaction costs for end users and bundle full sets of PPE products,” said Heinze. “A case in point is Sperian’s Pro-System, which includes head, eye, face and hearing protection. This benefits suppliers by allowing companies to either charge higher prices or sell larger volumes."
While the total market revenue is expected to continue increasing, there still are many growth hurdles that are outside of the control of PPE manufacturers, such as inadequate support to create a zero-injury safety culture, lack of regulatory updates that hinder the integration of new features and product commoditization due to increased imports of low-cost PPE. Price competition has forced many domestic companies to reduce their costs by outsourcing a large part of their production to other countries.