St Petersburg, Florida -- At a meeting where the US polyurethane flexible foam industry found itself discussing the challenges it faces, Lee Salamone, executive director of the Center for the Polyurethane Industry, outlined what her organisation was doing to move public perception in favour of polyurethane.
Speaking at the Polyurethane Foam Association Industry Issues meeting, Salamone updated delegates on the developments of CPI’s incrediblepolyurethane.com campaign - the launch of which was reported by Utech-polyurethane.com earlier this year.
CPI devised the communications strategy after carrying out research over the first six months of 2013. This included gauging public perceptions of polyurethanes, vulnerability assessments and some value chain research, said Salamone.
Vulnerability assessments involved “looking at several years’ worth of publicly available information: news, blogs, online stories… We looked at a period of time from before the action plans came out to March 2013," she said. The action plans have been set up by US regulators to examine products such as isocyanates.
At the same time, the CPI carried out “consumer research and focus group research too," Salamone said. There was also an online survey of 600 consumers.
“We came up with some interesting information… It probably does not surprise you to hear that most consumers have a rather low level of knowledge of polyurethanes,” she added.
The research showed that consumers do understand that polyurethanes have meaningful product benefits. “The first thing that people talk about is floor coating and everyone is comfortable with floor coatings… Then they’re surprised to know that PU is in other things,” she said.
The research showed that people generally are unaware of polyurethane and isocyanates partly because of the long chemical names of polyurethane chemicals, which put them off, said Salamone.
“It’s very easy to start to raise concerns about isocyanates once you start talking about them,” said Salamone.
“Consumers really do want products to be flame resistant, but when you start talking about how products are made flame resistant, they get a little bit wary when they understand its chemical technology that’s used," she said.
The value chain told us “they are very concerned about NGO attacks and public perception,” said Salamone.
The campaign focuses 45% rigid, 45% flexible and 10% CASE applications, said Salamone. It highlights product benefits to “remind people about the safety of polyurethane products and to spur conversations about polyurethane and increase positive perception,” Salamone added.
The plan involves the incrediblepolyurethane.com website as well as publicising stories in the traditional/social media and in-person marketing.
It is an 18 month campaign funded at a starter level through to April 2015, which “allows us to build the infrastructure and social medial following,” Salamone said.