Loyal market proves tough for innovative adhesives, sealants and fillers
Bostik’s new Seal N Flex Advance product, is gaining hold in a market where it is not often easy to sway tradies from products they have remained loyal to for many years.
However, Bostik Product Manager, Daniel Jakobovic, believes Bostik’s new Seal N Flex Advance, is proving to be unique to the Australian market.
“Seal N Flex Advance is a hybrid polyurethane, which is relatively uncommon in the market at the moment but it is gaining favour with European tradespeople. It takes the best characteristics of our popular polyurethane sealants and makes them more durable and less affected by weather and temperature variations,” Mr Jakobovic said.
“So far, Seal N Flex Advance has been received really well by the market. However, at this stage it is all about educating end users of the major benefits, which is why we are currently running training sessions and demonstrations to support our distributors,” he said.
When looking at the sealants market nationally, Mr Jakobovic said primary developments that are driving trends in the market currently are the introduction of hybrid silicones (modified silicone polymers) and more recently, hybrid polyurethanes (SPUR), which is a European trend that has started to take hold in Australia.
“This has been encouraged also by the movement towards using less hazardous materials, as there are no isocyanates or solvents in hybrids, yet they remain incredibly durable and diverse in application. They are used more widely in Europe but we are finally seeing the Australian market begin to understand the real advantages of these technologies,” he said.
“Australians can sometimes be slow to adopt new products or technologies and this is understandable. They believe, ‘if it isn’t broken, why fix it?’ However, there are two factors that we believe encourage the adoption of innovative products.”
“Firstly, when you can really see the cost or time saving advantage of the newer technology products, a change of product can be much more convincing to the user. Secondly, we have found the need to trust in a brand can be very important. If you know the brand and believe in the quality of the product, you are less inclined to think they will steer you wrong with a new release,” Mr Jakobovic said.
Maintaining a point of difference in the market is also of high importance, according to Bostik, with the company’s clear stand out feature being consistent high quality within its products.
“Not only do we supply great quality products that are made to stand the test of time, but we apply the quality mantra to our service offer as well. We have a great team of technical support staff and we are always looking at ways to add value to our customers, whether this is through training, advice, promotions, new packaging designs or even our consideration of the environmental impact of our products,” he said.
Looking at the high level of competition within the market, Mr Jakobovic believes there is more competition in the market now more than ever, due to the influx of international competitors entering the market with highly compelling offers.
“Despite this, Bostik’s strengths in Australia remain true and we are dedicated to understanding Australian construction and building practices and developing solutions that make working conditions easier and safer. The fact that we manufacture our market leading adhesive in Australia gives us a great advantage over those products manufactured offshore.”
Mr Jakobovic believes while there can be inconsistencies in standards of products sold in Australia, this often depends on what the application is and the state in which the product is made.
“Regulations and codes can differ widely between Australian states and the BCA can also be inconsistent when it comes to what standard needs to be followed. It can be quite a minefield for manufacturers, so I am not surprised when I hear that tradespeople struggle with it also.”
“In saying this I would be wary of cheap sealants and adhesives sold in the market. Not only is the quality of the product generally sub-par but users also cannot access support or advice when they need it or when the product does not comply with a relevant building code and the user is often left high and dry,” Mr Jakobovic said.
Pushing innovation in an unwavering market
Macsim National Marketing Manager, Suzi Goodman, agrees remaining innovative and ground-breaking is vital to maintaining relevance and surviving in a highly competitive market, even though tradies do like to remain loyal to long-established products.
“Whilst our tried and tested traditional products are a favourite with the builders and DIY handymen, I believe the introduction of Macsim’s innovative products will continue to grow the current market,” Ms Goodman said.
Innovation has allowed Macsim to continually compete strongly within the market, as the business continues to cement its place through the launch of new products, she said.
“Our range now includes modified silicone polymers and hybrid polyurethanes, which has given Macsim the opportunity to compete successfully within the Australian building industry. Our success is also attributed to Macsim’s range having low VOC levels which comply with the market’s ‘Green Star’ rating, as well as being included in its new fire rated sealant range,” Ms Goodman said.
“With the ever-increasing amount of sealant suppliers in the marketplace, it is a driving force for Macsim to continually look for an equivalent and improved range of products,” she said.
Ms Goodman also believes Macsim’s simple approach when marketing its products, along with the introduction of new labelling, ensures users can quickly and easily identify the right product for their requirements
When touching on current challenges within the market place, Ms Goodman said that the shortage of raw material has been challenging over the past 10 months.
“Thankfully due to long existing relationships with our sealant suppliers, we have been able to maintain our silicone and sealant stock levels consistently for our clients. For now, Macsim’s focus is always on improvements and innovation… watch this space for 2020,” she said.
Global raw material shortage
RLA Polymers Business Manager for Retail, Emma Greeves, agrees that the market of traditional silicones has been a tough one over the past 12 months due to global raw material shortages, which has significantly driven up prices. However, this has also contributed to the market shifting towards more modified silicone products as the prices are now more comparable than ever, she said.
“The recent increase in the price of silicone has forced some suppliers to source a lower grade of silicones, which can be detrimental to the Australian market. RLA continues to supply the quality that is required to meet the high standards in the Australian market,” Ms Greeves said.
Market growth is also expected to be achieved through innovation in technologies, according to Ms Greeves, who said education is key in facilitating a market shift away from traditional products. End users need to be aware that there are safer options available as the health and and safety of our tradies is paramount, she said.
“RLA Polymers is about to enter the modified silicone market in a big way, with a full offering of modified silicone sealants and adhesives. The modified silicone technology combines the strength and benefits of silicone and polyurethane whilst addressing the weaknesses of these two traditional technologies.”
“There is an industry trend moving towards modified silicone due to the high performance of modified silicone technology, as well as the occupational health and safety, and environmental benefits. Modified silicone sealants and adhesives do not contain isocyanates. Isocyanates can be found in common sealants and adhesives which release CO2 when it comes in contact with moisture in the air. This can be extremely toxic to humans and animals. We have already had great market acceptance and feedback on our modified silicone timber flooring adhesive system offering, and will continue to grow in this market segment,” Ms Greeves said.
After recently opening its state-of-the-art research and development technology centre in Kilsyth, Victoria, RLA also now has the capacity to continue to explore new technologies.
“RLA Polymers offers a great range of quality products at very competitive prices. We back this up with our after sales technical support and exceptional customer service,” she said.
This year is also set to be an exciting year for RLA with the launch of its full range of modified silicone sealants and adhesives in cartridges, sausages and various colours to cover all application requirements, as well as match RLA’s tile grout colour range over the coming months.
Market demands dictate new launch for Soudal
Soudal has reported plenty of product launches and market innovations of late, with Soudal Head of Marketing and Technical, Scott Robinson, recently detailing the launch of Soudal’s new and innovative stud adhesive in Australia, after a push from the market to launch the product.
“We undertook over 30 onsite trials with three different formulas alongside professional installers so we could totally listen to and understand their needs. The preferred formula was the one with the highest initial tack as this provided two main advantages. The first advantage was the ability for the adhesive to instantly hold the plasterboard on the wall without falling. The second advantage was that the adhesive has a thicker consistency. So, it would not sag when applied onto the studs, even when applied overhead for a ceiling,” Mr Robinson said.
Soudal High Tack Stud Adhesive was launched in March this year, with the first 40-foot container already sold and a second container on the way.
However, Soudal’s biggest launch for the year is yet to come, with Soudal currently planning its largest product launch for the company, in the Australian market, to take place in July this year.
“As always, we offer innovative products that provide advantages compared to traditional adhesives and this range will be no different to our philosophy. Today, more than ever, the market is open to new and innovative products as long there are ‘real’ benefits delivering advantages,” he said.
“At Soudal we tell it as it is, there are no misleading statements made. We believe in showing the advantages of the product, not just talking about it, so everyone can trust in what we say. In the Soudal Group we produce 97 per cent of what we sell. This means that we have the knowledge of the products in-house and the experts who formulated them. This allows us to provide in-depth understanding of the product and their applications,” Mr Robinson concluded.