Spotlight: 3M entertains the possibilities

Home Inside FCNews Spotlight: 3M entertains the possibilities

January 16/23, 2017: Volume 31, Number 16

By Lindsay Baillie

Since the 1970s, 3M’s name in the flooring industry has been associated with the company’s successful Scotchgard Protector brand. As one of the leading brands of stain, spill and soil protection on the market, Scotchgard has grown alongside the industry to provide protection for not only carpet but also hard surfaces. From its inception, the Scotchgard Protector brand has continued to tackle new floor protecting issues in keeping with the development of the industry’s new flooring styles.

Known for its ability to repel, resist and protect, the Scotchgard brand is marketed as a product that provides built-in protection for a variety of flooring materials, soft and hard surface alike. As flooring continues to evolve, that begs the question: What will be the next 3M flooring innovation? For 3M, the possibilities are endless.

“We are using our strategic model to expand 3M into the flooring industry and to maybe bring other consumer brands and technologies into the flooring industry as well,” said Carrie Pettit, segment marketer, 3M Home Care division. “We have several divisions that have technology platforms we can continue to look into and expand. When looking at all of 3M’s divisions we’re constantly thinking, ‘What do we have available that can make sense for flooring?’ ”

In order to develop new products across 3M’s multiple divisions, the company is asking consumers deeper questions about floor care, including how they feel about keeping their floors clean. Pettit explained the company is interested in the emotions behind cleaning and seeing clean floors. “We continue to get consumer insight around cleaning habits and what they expect when taking care of their floors,” Pettit explained.

3M is using these insights to develop new soft surface innovations, an area Pettit said the company is constantly working on. “We have a new product portfolio for polyester, and we have a new platform for nylon that will bring differentiation to nylon. We have continued innovations for nylon and polyester that provide state-of-the-art performance based on what consumers are looking for.”

As far as innovations for hard surfaces go, 3M is gathering as much information as it can before developing new products. As Pettit explains, “It’s an important space for the flooring industry and we’re gathering the voices of customers along with consumer insights to drive what we do in the lab.”

Pettit explained it can be difficult to develop products for hard surfaces that fit within the price points consumers are looking for. There are also multiple factors to consider, such as whether the product is scratch resistant or self-healing. Because hard surfaces vary in style, material and design no one product is the perfect solution for all. “You have your hardwoods, which scratch, and then you have LVT that looks like hardwood but doesn’t scratch—yet it dents,” Pettit explained. “We’re focused on educating consumers on how to maintain the perfect floors that they want.”

As 3M continues to integrate its different divisions into the flooring industry the opportunities for innovation are vast. “Over the last few years we’ve really maintained our focus on carpet and flooring,” said Eric Ruppert, senior account representative, 3M Scotchgard. “Trying to make flooring stay cleaner for longer with less maintenance. How do you do that? You have to build a new product that has both oil and soil repellency, and then you also have the durability that allows you to clean your floor multiple times and still have that protection remain on the product.”

According to 3M, this not only entails tapping into a lot of new technologies that are coming from within its own labs but also working with its key accounts to take 3M technologies and apply it to the flooring segment. “For example, 3M is huge in adhesives,” Ruppert said, citing the trend toward applying flooring materials to walls.

In a nutshell, utilizing more than just its Scotchgard brand will allow 3M to introduce different types of products to the industry. “We make anything from tape to aerospace technologies, so being able to tap into different divisions is fun for me as a key account rep because I’m able to expand what we do and have a better offering for 3M in general,” Ruppert said.

Brainstorming other possibilities Pettit cited coding for machines, printed film for walls—“those types of things.”

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