Specialist Interview:

A Microban Expert’s Guide to Market Trends and Challenges for Consumer Products

Meet Microban’s consumer goods expert, Gary Gagnon

Gary Gagnon headshot

Gary Gagnon, Director of Business Development at Microban, brings over two decades of expertise in the consumer products and CPG industries. Starting his career in 2001 as a sales agent in the Southeast region of North America, Gary represented a diverse portfolio, including importers, wholesales, and designers across sectors such as housewares, hardware, pet products, footwear, and gifts. He has fostered relationships with prominent mass merchants, grocery and drug chains, clubs, and specialty retailers.

Today, Gary collaborates with industry leaders like Speck Products and Newell Brands, leveraging Microban technology to optimize product differentiation and messaging. His commitment to understanding client needs and delivering mutually beneficial outcomes makes him a Microban expert in advancing innovative solutions in the consumer goods sector.

Q. What key trends influence the consumer goods industry, particularly in products with antimicrobial properties?

A. Today, consumers across demographics prioritize home and personal care, aiming for cleaner and more sustainable choices. This focus on cleanliness and sustainability extends to antimicrobial products. Both consumers and manufacturers are gravitating towards items with antimicrobial properties, integrating them into daily practices for extra benefits. This is why CPG messaging often promotes antimicrobial products for their ability to provide cleaner surfaces, reduce bacteria, save time, simplify cleaning, control odors, and deliver added peace of mind.

    Q. Are there specific markets or product types where the demand for consumer goods with antimicrobial properties is noticeably increasing?

    A. While kitchen and bath applications remain prominent areas for antimicrobial benefit, consumer demand for personal items and shared spaces within the lifestyle shift I mentioned has spiked. Increased placements, product expansion, and new projects include fitness gear, outdoor and recreation equipment, travel and grooming accessories, beverage containers, mobile phone cases, and electronic devices.

      Q. What factors are driving this trend?

      A. Aside from how the pandemic heightened awareness and escalated consumer desire for cleaner products and surfaces, antimicrobial demand continues to grow as consumer brands seek to innovate within what are often long-time, never-changed product assortments. Where consumers are asking, consumer brands are tasked with delivering bigger, faster, stronger, and cleaner, fresher, longer. I again credit the shift in mindset, where more people want to create and enjoy a peaceful living environment for themselves, their friends, and their families.

      Q. How do you perceive consumer attitudes towards antimicrobial properties in consumer products evolving over recent years, and how does this impact product development?

      A. In recent years, consumer attitudes towards antimicrobial properties in consumer products have evolved significantly, especially after the pandemic. Heightened cleanliness concerns drive a growing awareness and demand for these features. Consumers are now more attentive to antimicrobial technology's impact on product longevity.

      As a result, manufacturers are investing more in research and product development to ensure antimicrobial efficacy and compliance with regulatory standards. Building trust through clear and transparent marketing communication and consumer education has become crucial for successfully launching and adopting antimicrobial products.

      Q. In what ways do Microban technologies contribute to enhancing the sustainability of consumer goods products?

      A. Microban technologies contribute to enhancing the sustainability of consumer goods products in several key ways. First, the built-in antimicrobial protection creates an inhospitable environment for microbial growth, which prevents the breakdown and degradation of the product caused by degrading microbes. This means that treated products remain cleaner, fresher, and more durable over time, reducing the need for frequent replacements and decreasing waste while conserving resources. Additionally, by extending the usable life of consumer goods, Microban technologies help reduce the overall environmental impact associated with manufacturing, distributing, and disposing of these products.

      Q. What are the emerging challenges or opportunities in the consumer goods industry regarding antimicrobial solutions?

      A. Emerging challenges in the consumer goods industry regarding antimicrobial solutions include increasing regulatory scrutiny, evolving consumer expectations for transparency, and the need for sustainable practices. As regulations evolve and become stricter (e.g., USA-EPA, Canada-PMRA, EU-BPR), product manufacturers must ensure rigorous testing and compliance to guarantee efficacy. Additionally, consumers are more informed and demand clear information about how antimicrobial technologies work and their safety.

      Opportunities lie in the growing demand for cleaner, more durable products, which can drive innovation in antimicrobial technologies. For example, as consumers and government bodies alike push for more environmentally friendly options, there is potential for innovation in developing more sustainable antimicrobial technologies. In response to this demand, Microban has expanded its portfolio to include a range of metal-free solutions designed to be more sustainable.

      Q. How is Microban positioned to support manufacturers in addressing these dynamics effectively?

      A. Consumers are demanding, and competition is evident among brand owners, retailers, and manufacturers. In my 12 years in the antimicrobial space, engaging with customers, competitors, manufacturers, and various methods where consumer product companies seek to enhance their marketplace position, I stand confidently at Microban, surrounded by the industry's best people, technology, and brands. Our engineering teams have most recently developed solutions that are functional in coatings, nature-inspired technology, and odor control. Antimicrobial technology is a relevant, impactful, and viable solution for CPG companies to advance their products and expand their offerings. Manufacturers and brand owners would be wise to rely on Microban to secure a genuine partnership. Partnering with Microban means partnering with industry-leading expertise, superior technology, brand power, and 40 years of best practices.