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New Zealand strong wool: US consumers’ interest grows - research

31 Jan 2024 1:20 PM | Mike Hearn (Administrator)

Americans are falling in love with Kiwi wool, with at least three in four purchasers stating they would buy woollen products again, says Campaign for Wool NZ.

Initiated in 2010 by King Charles III when his title was the Prince of Wales, the Campaign for Wool is a global endeavour aiming to raise awareness among consumers about the natural, renewable and biodegradable benefits offered by the fibre.

The charity said its goal was to also add value through the supply chain and to the farm gate.

Campaign for Wool NZ said the results of its research were particularly positive for consumers choosing woollen insulation, with 88 per cent of those who installed insulation in their homes anticipating a repeat purchase should they need insulation in the future.

The research showed wool bedding, soft furnishings and flooring had also won the hearts of the US market.

“This is excellent news for our strong wool growers, woollen product manufacturers and their US-based retail partners,” Campaign for Wool NZ chairman Ryan Cosgrove said.

“The research tells us that New Zealand strong wool is having a real impact on discerning Americans – that its durability, natural beauty and sustainability credentials are really starting to stack up for buyers in this key market.”

Researchers surveyed over 1000 consumers sitting within the top 60 per cent on the US household affluence index during October 2023.

“We dug into the various ways wool is used in the US, how it’s perceived, how and when it is purchased, what drives that purchase and any barriers to buying wool over other products on the market,” Cosgrove explained.

The research highlights an improvement in the perception of wool performance since the research was last conducted in 2021.

The findings will be shared with Campaign for Wool NZ’s partners, operating across several sectors, such as growing, handling, trading, manufacturing and retailing wool.

Cosgrove said there was an increase in the awareness of the attributes of wool.

“Its ability to promote warmth, regulate temperature and biodegrade, for instance.”

Consumers were also more appreciative of how wool looked and felt, but one attribute stood out more than the rest, Cosgrove said.

“Their understanding of how wool absorbs sound has doubled – from only 20 per cent mentioning sound absorbency as an attribute to 40 per cent.”

The research found apparel, crafting supplies and pet accessories were among the most recognised uses of wool.

Wool was having an impact in the home, building and renovation sector as well, Cosgrove said.

“Over three-quarters of purchasers would choose woollen bedding or soft furnishings again, and a similar number would select woollen carpets and rugs.

“The fact that conscious consumers are increasingly prioritising sheep over synthetics can only be a good thing for hard-working New Zealand farmers, and for the environment as a whole.”

However, Cosgrove said there was still work to be done, as consumers became increasingly price-sensitive.

“Affordability was the number-one barrier to purchase, which is no change from the last time we undertook the research,” he said.

“With our support, our partners can also do better at communicating how and where to purchase New Zealand strong wool products in the US market, and how to clean and care for wool, according to the figures.”

On a positive note, New Zealand’s reputation for producing the best wool in the world continued to rise, he said.

“The stats show that when compared to other wool-growing nations like Australia, the UK and even the USA – home turf for these consumers – our wool ranks as being better-quality, more luxurious, more sustainable and even more natural than other countries’ wool.”

More about Campaign for Wool NZ’s research

Fresh Perspective was commissioned to conduct the research on behalf of Campaign for Wool NZ.

Respondents for the consumer insights panel were representative of the national population based on age, gender and region for the top 60 per cent of household affluence, to be comparable with the benchmark study sample in 2021.

Respondents were sourced via the Dynata consumer research panel - the world’s largest first-party data platform.

Fieldwork was completed for the USA from October 6-17, 2023, and New Zealand from October 9-19, 2023, with just over 1000 responses from consumers in each market.


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