The COVID-19 pandemic has led to some dramatic shifts in consumer behavior as people spend more time at home. One notable area where changes have occurred is in the home and personal care products market, which includes products like dryer sheets, cleaning wipes, laundry and dishwashing solutions, and baby wipes.
US Nonwovens, a manufacturer of home and personal care products for the private label and branded markets that recently branded as Radienz Living, offers a number of products that have been in high demand during the pandemic, like disinfecting and antibacterial wipes.
Established in 1995 as a producer of dryer sheets, the company currently operates nine manufacturing plants and several warehouses across North America. As the COVID-19 crisis unfolded, the company had to respond to a number of challenges and shifts in the market. Radienz Living’s chief executive officer Matt Stillings speaks to Powder & Bulk Solids about how the pandemic has impacted the company and the home and personal care products space, as well as how the market might continue to evolve over the coming years.
How has the pandemic changed home and personal care products market changed during the pandemic?
STILLINGS: As with everybody in the market, Radienz Living saw a significant surge in the demand for disinfecting products, from disinfecting and antibacterial wipes to all-purpose cleaning dilutable liquids and sprays, and even unit dose cleaners – most our home care business saw a surge in demand. In fact, one of the reasons for the company name change is that while Radienz Living started as a nonwovens converter, today we are leaders in so much more than just wipes. Depending on the specific category, we saw surges between 25% and 75% compared to pre-COVID-19 levels.
How have these changes impacted the operations of Radienz Living’s nine manufacturing plants?
STILLINGS: At Radienz Living, we want to be the trusted partner that helps our customers’ brands succeed. Thus, we worked together with them to make sure we did everything possible to meet their demand and minimize out of stocks on the shelf. Our employees worked to secure new sources of raw materials and increase productivity.
True to Radienz Living’s culture, the pandemic only accelerated our drive for innovation and sustainability. First, as mentioned before, we repurposed some of our flatpack wipe capacity to produce disinfecting wipes. We are currently marketing flatpack wipes with the COVID-19 efficacy claim under our Redi Wipes brand in 75-count and 15-count versions. Consumers are looking for flexibility to take disinfecting products everywhere that they go, and canisters are not always the most convenient format. This is a great example of the agility in innovation that we are so proud of.
Another change in our lineup was the launch of a botanical line of disinfecting wipes and sprays. These products have the same disinfecting claims as our non-botanical products but use natural ingredients to do so. Finally, we launched and have available to our customers a disinfecting wipe canister that uses 22% less plastic than regular canisters. This shows our passion for innovation and sustainability.
What’s the biggest lesson the home and personal care products industry can take away from this period of uncertainty?
STILLINGS: We are so proud of the way our employees reacted to the COVID-19 pandemic and how they embraced Radienz Living’s purpose of creating customer partnerships for life. When the pandemic started, some of our manufacturing facilities were impacted and raw material supply chains were affected, but at no point did we stop producing. We quickly made the necessary changes to ensure the safety of our employees and exhibited agility in innovation to react to heightened demand from our customers.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, we doubled our output of disinfecting and antibacterial wipes. We did this by increasing productivity, additional shifts and making investments in new canister capacity in our new plant in Pittston, Pennsylvania. We also repurposed some of our flatpack wipe capacity to produce disinfecting wipes in that format. We are currently marketing flatpack wipes with the COVID-19 efficacy claim under our Redi Wipes brand in 75-count and 15-count versions, as we know consumers are looking for flexibility to take disinfecting products everywhere they go and canisters are not always the most convenient format.
This agility and innovation came from our people solving challenges together. Our name change is in part a recognition of this wonderful teams-based culture.
What does the market look like in a post-pandemic world?
STILLINGS: It is impossible to say with 100% certainty. However, what we do know is that the pandemic changed consumer habits, and we expect that in the future, demand will settle above pre-pandemic levels. Regardless of where it lands, we think the future is bright for Radienz Living, given our ability to compete in wipes, liquids and unit dose products – which also grew double digits during the pandemic – and our passion for innovation and sustainability, and our desire to earn our customers’ trust.
How will the home and personal care products market and industry continue to evolve over this decade?
STILLINGS: Our mission at Radienz Living is make our customers’ brands great through agility in innovation, trust and reliability and sustainable creation. We will continue to invest in better products and services.
Where does Radienz Living see the biggest opportunity for innovation in the market?
STILLINGS: Our focus is on creating products that are safe and effective, while reducing impact on the environment. Our new line of botanical disinfecting wipes and sprays is an example of this commitment, along with our new canister that uses 22% less plastic than regular canisters.
Positioned for Future Success
Radienz Living has invested more than $25 million in doubling its disinfectant wipes capacity to aid in the COVID-19 crisis, and in a new state-of-the-art manufacturing and distribution center in PA. It also recently acquired Soluble Packaging Solutions (SPS), which is North America’s largest independent manufacturer of unit dose packaging for dish, laundry and other categories.
The rebrand this year unites US Nonwovens and Soluble Packaging Solutions under the Radienz Living name, a change that will allow for an expansion of the company’s private-label and branded laundry and dish unit dose offerings.