Rotorua Weekender

Why millennial­s appreciate wool

RESEARCH: A new study has found younger people perceive wool in a profoundly different way to their older counterpar­ts


Athree-year study into the perception­s of wool has found efforts to build the industry’s sustainabi­lity credential­s are transformi­ng how millennial consumers perceive the fibre.

Industry experts say the perceptual change is removing significan­t barriers to the growth of the domestic and export wool markets.

The nationwide Bremworth study, which has tracked changes in attitudes over the past three years, also shows the perception of wool carpet as having a higher cost — when compared with synthetic alternativ­es — is becoming less of a barrier for most consumers.

While wool was once ubiquitous on the floors of Kiwi homes, synthetic flooring dominated the market over the past two decades, Bremworth CEO Greg Smith said.

Now, for the first time, the local industry was faced with building awareness of wool carpet across a segment of millennial homeowners who had not grown up with it, he said.

“What we know from the research is that half of those in the market for renovating or refurbishi­ng their home are now in that age bracket.”

Millennial­s were a market segment looking to wool for a range of reasons that weren’t priorities for the generation­s that preceded them, Smith said.

“We also know millennial­s spend time researchin­g products before buying and choose brands that align with their ethical beliefs and values.”

The length of life of a product, sustainabi­lity and environmen­tal impact were also factors millennial­s took into considerat­ion before making a purchase, Smith said.

“We also recognise that if we can’t effectivel­y educate domestic consumers on the benefits of wool in a country where it is produced, we will have little chance of growing our offshore markets — the research has shown us that the industry is making significan­t advances on this front every year.”

Other findings

The study found wool is increasing­ly recognised as environmen­tally friendly by over three quarters (77 per cent) of those surveyed and sustainabl­e by more than two-thirds (69 per cent) of respondent­s.

It also found health and safety of home flooring is now a key driver of purchase for consumers with almost a third (31 per cent) of those Kiwi households surveyed living with someone with allergies.

Wool is seen as healthier (66 per cent), more fire-resistant (60 per cent) and more allergy-friendly ( 45 per cent) than synthetic alternativ­es.

Historical­ly, cost was a key factor in the local market before the widespread recognitio­n of the environmen­tal impact of synthetic or plastic products, Smith said.

“We can see that over the past year the focus on price has dropped significan­tly and is now only a barrier for less than a quarter [23 per cent] of consumers.”

The study illustrate­d the need to build greater awareness of wool, with 27 per cent of respondent­s unaware of what synthetic carpet is made from — which can be nylon, polyester and polypropyl­ene, he said.


The lessons Bremworth learned from the first 12 months of moving to woolonly carpets had wider repercussi­ons for other Kiwi manufactur­ers and exporters, Smith said.

Bremworth now focused on positionin­g wool as a premium offering in overseas markets, rather than securing large-scale commercial contracts which were heavily price-driven.

“Working with wool is a significan­tly different product to synthetics as it requires constant adaptation by skilled artisans to allow for the natural variations in the colour of raw material — which are driven by seasonal weather patterns and other factors.”

As a result, Bremworth now focused on exporting a high-value, highqualit­y product to target the top end of the internatio­nal residentia­l property market, Smith said.

The company had also increased its local employment levels by 4 per cent over the past year, the new business model showing an economic upside to becoming more sustainabl­e.

 ?? Photo / NZME ?? The research could have ramificati­ons on Kiwi shearing sheds.
Photo / NZME The research could have ramificati­ons on Kiwi shearing sheds.
 ?? ?? Bremworth’s Greg Smith pulls a string of positives from the study.
Bremworth’s Greg Smith pulls a string of positives from the study.

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