Widespread fears caused by terrorism and disease in the early 2000s caused a boom in the respiratory protection market that led to a surge in demand and funding. However, as time has passed and the occurrence of such events has decreased, demand has leveled off, leading to a decline in total respiratory protection revenue.
Frost & Sullivan's Chemicals, Materials & Food practice (frost.materials.com) finds that the respiratory protection market earned revenue of $1.01 billion in 2011 and estimates this to reach $1.14 billion in 2016.
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The respiratory protection market’s decline is largely attributed to the 2008 economic recession’s negative impact on the size of the industrial end-user base and a reduction in fire department funding. Additionally, obtaining product certifications to bring products to the market is a costly investment for manufacturers.
Given the uncertainty surrounding new regulations, manufacturers sometimes struggle to get their products certified in time to meet cyclical end-user demand. This process, therefore, functions as a restraint on the market, especially because companies are unable to pass on higher certification costs to price-sensitive end users through higher prices.
"During the early 2000s, regulatory officials may have expected end users to have excess funds available to spend on more sophisticated respiratory protection equipment," said Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Roland Heinze. "As a result, previous standards may have been more provocative than future standards, which put extra stress on manufacturers. Now that a large portion of this funding is spent, regulatory standards are expected to be less demanding and released less frequently."
While dealing with these challenges, suppliers have utilized acquisition activity to remain technologically competitive, create full lines of safety products, and expand global market reach. Notable examples include Honeywell’s acquisitions of Sperian and North Safety, Kimberly-Clark Professional's acquisition of Jackson Products, 3M’s acquisition of Aearo, and Avon Protection’s acquisition of International Safety Instruments.
"Some manufactures are now able to market themselves as one-stop shops for safety products. By increasing their penetration across all personal protective equipment (PPE) markets, suppliers are able to lower transaction costs for end users and bundle full sets of PPE products," said Heinze. "Because this benefits manufacturers by allowing them to either charge higher prices or sell larger volumes of products, acquisitions are expected to continue having a moderate impact on market growth in the long run."
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Strategic Analysis of the North American Respiratory Protection Market: The Search for a New Growth Pipeline / NB1E-39