Commoditization has characterized the North American above-the-neck PPE market. Growth in the market has been somewhat offset by reduced demand from key sectors such as manufacturing and oil & gas. Growth in the overall market is likely to hinge upon the strength of the overall economy and outlook for the oil & gas sector. The fastest growing segments are likely to include eye protection, face protection followed by head and hearing protection. New product innovation is likely to be limited to eye and face protection--this is likely to give a fillip to sales. Leading incumbents such as 3M and Honeywell are likely to continue to dominate the above-the-neck PPE market due to strong product portfolios, presence of significant buffers against macro headwinds and high penetration rates of the installed base. Going forward, increased stratification is expected to continue with low-end commoditized products driving unit volume growth and niche products driving average selling price. Market acceptance for smart PPE is likely in the early stages--price points have to come down for products to gain higher rates of traction in the market. High-risk industries such as oil & gas are likely to afford significant growth opportunities as regulatory bodies are shoring up their safety practices.
Consolidation is expected to continue during the forecast period as the above-the-neck PPE market continues to be very fragmented. Prices of products in the above-the-neck PPE market tend to be stable or growing marginally, primarily due to the addition of value-added features. For example, the use of anti-fog coatings in prescription eyewear is expected to marginal price increases. The entry of millennials into the workforce is creating demand for new products, for example, fashionable eyewear. The end-user verticals which are likely to generate the highest demand include construction which is expected to see moderate growth and oil & gas which is expected to see reduced uncertainity. Regional dynamics are likely to be largely unchanged; supply-side dynamics are likely to change should there be increased consolidation whereas demand-side dynamics depend largely upon the overall economic outlook.
Product segments covered in this report include the following:
• Head Protection
• Face protection
• Eye protection
• Hearing protection
Barriers to entry continue to be high for certain product segments including laser eyewear, specialty face shields, welding helmets and electronic ear muffs. Leading incumbents in the space are likely to continue to innovate as investments in R&D are expected to continue going forward. For example, electronic ear muffs with two-way radio communication is gaining increasing acceptance in the market. Frost and Sullivan analysis reveals that manufacturers are likely to benefit from strategically expanding their market presence in developing countries with high standards of safety. Risks to a positive outlook include higher than expected volatility in the oil & gas sector and lack of innovation in certain product segments.