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The Role of Specialist Distributors in the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Market - North America and Western Europe

  • February 2014
  • Frost & Sullivan
Report ID: 2043239


Table of Contents

A Healthy Road toward Enhancing Customer Value through Improved Customization

CEO’s Perspective

Distributors remain the main route to the personal protective equipment (PPE) market; such an avenue is unlikely to change in the near future.
Procurement consolidation is the single most significant consumer trend impacting the dynamics of PPE distribution.
The PPE industry is increasingly service-oriented as customers expect strong technical and service support from distributors.
Specialist distributors continue to evolve and general industrial distributors evade competition through targeted competitive strategies.
As distributors strive to achieve a higher level of specialization, the industry is likely to witness increasing consolidation.

PPE Market Overview

- PPE can be classified into xx major product categories, depending on the type of protection offered.
- Several factors drive the PPE market and prompt manufacturers to upgrade and enhance product lines, ensuring market dynamism. These factors include:
oChanging workplace environment and type of hazards
oUpdates in standards and regulations
oGlobalization and changing workforce demographics
oImpact of fashion and changing customer preferences
- North America and Western Europe are the major revenue generators of the PPE market.
- With well-defined safety regulations enforcing a higher end-user compliance, these are relatively mature regional markets.
- Protective gloves, protective clothing, and protective footwear are the largest market segments. They account for the majority of market revenue in these regions.
- With increasing safety consciousness and improving compliance, fall protection and respiratory protection are expected to offer the highest growth opportunities.
- Additionally, the protective clothing market in North America, boosted by the growth of the flame-resistant (FR) clothing segment in the oil and gas industry, is expected to continue experiencing good growth in the near future.

Need for Distributors in the PPE Industry

Why Manufacturers Sell through Distributors
- Distributors provide local support and meet service requirements of overseas clients.
- Distributors act as an extension of the existing sales force.
- Distributors provide access to new markets and customers.
- Distributors’ complementary product lines offer greater opportunities for system or bundling strategies.
- Distributors provide regular customer feedback and identify and respond to market trends.

Distributor Selection Criteria

Customers are always looking for a single supplier to satisfy all of their industrial needs, including PPE.
The timely availability of required PPE is highly important in the safety industry and customers place enormous emphasis on good inventory capacity and quick delivery.
End users rely on suppliers for educating them on product usage and safety-related aspects. Distributors, as their immediate point of contact, are expected to provide support in this respect.
Due to high variability in spending patterns, PPE customers look for distributors that hold stock of products spanning the entire pricing window in each PPE type to offer a wide selection.
The benefit of choosing a distributor over buying goods online or through mail order is gaining access to personal service. Hence, local presence and accessibility of the distributor site becomes important.

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