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Microfiltration bags clean up

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With consumers increasingly concerned about the quality of the air arid water in their homes, retailers and manufacturers of microfiltration vacuum cleaner bags are finding a receptive audience for their products.

“My microfiltration bag business is probably double what it was a year ago,” noted the vac buyer for one regional discounter.

“We’re seeing very rapid growth,” agreed Debra Coats, product director of canister and extractors for Hoover.

Industry estimates peg microfiltration bags–still a relatively young product segment–at 20 to 30 percent of overall vacuum cleaner bag sales. Retail dollar volume could be as high as $600 million annually, according to analysts.

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“Sales of microfiltration bags are increasing at a good steady rate,” noted Mark Bosses, executive vice president at Home Care Industries, a manufacturer of microfiltration and conventional vac bags; “probably between 5 and 10 percent a year.”

For some retailers, the growth may be even more rapid. “We’re seeing it grow about 25 percent a year,” said the vac buyer for a Western regional discounter. He said the company has added approximately five SKUs to meet the growing demand.

Microfiltration bags, like a growing number of air and water filtration products, appeal to consumers concerned with their health, and determined to exert control over their home environment, according to retailers and manufacturers.

Unlike traditional bags, that allow dust and other contaminants to escape, either while the vacuum is in use or as consumers are removing the bag to discard it, microfiltration bags prevent the release of most airborne contaminants.

“What we’re really trying to do is look at the vacuum cleaner bag industry as a filter industry more than as a bag industry, said Bosses, explaining that manufacturers are finding an increasingly receptive audience for their “better bag, better breathing” message.

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“There is simply a lot more awareness among consumers about health issues, ” he said.

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For consumers who are allergic to substances such as pollen, dust or related parasites, a microfiltration bag can be helpful in that it reduces exposure and keeps air in the home cleaner. According to manufacturers, consumers can realize a benefit merely by switching from conventional bags to microfiltration bags, without replacing their vacuum cleaners. “That’s why I see this product virtually replacing the conventional bag,” Bosses explained.

While providing consumers with a clear health benefit, microfiltration bags give retailers a higher-margin, higher-ticket product to sell. And, say manufacturers, consumers have no hesitation about paying the additional cost.

“Consumers are making a conscious decision when they get to the store to pay two to three times as much for a microfiltration bag,” said Hoover’s Coats. “When they look at the packaging, and it’s telling them these bags are good for people who suffer from allergies, and that just by using this bag they are going to experience an added health benefit, they are more than willing to spend the additional money.”

At present, manufacturers and retailers are doing little more than providing bullet points or educational copy to be attention to the category at point of sale, However, say retailers, consumers seem to be getting the idea just fine.

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