#01Use Demonstration of Cleaning Effects to Create Opportunities to Solve Consumers’ Issues
3M Japan Limited
Mr. Mitsuhiro Aikawa, Manager, Marketing Division, Commercial Care Business Department
3M has kept on launching epoch-making products by applying technology. Non-woven fabric, which is one of 3M’s core technologies, is widely used, from everyday utensils to industrial products, and one application is in building maintenance. 3M is advancing proposals which can help to overcome the shortage of workers in the workplace, centered on floor pads which can be used to carry out cleaning effectively in a short time. We talked to Mr. Aikawa of the Marketing Department about how the company uses trade shows.
The appeal is in having a point of contact with customers on a nationwide scale.
- Please tell us about the field you’re in charge of.
We are moving into diverse fields, but I deal with “Commercial Care Products”, which concerns cleaning, hygiene management, and safety management for corporate clients. I’m in charge of three main areas. One is professional cleaning materials for building maintenance, the second is products for restaurants, such as major franchise chains, and the third is products used for health and safety in industrial applications. The current show is about number one, the building maintenance field, and we are exhibiting products such as floor pads, sponges, and mops. I am working on marketing activities to tell more people about product groups like this, and I follow up on sales through the Sales Department and dealerships.
- What kind of displays do you have planned for the Building Maintenance Human Fair and Clean Expo?
We plan to focus our display on floor pads used for cleaning buildings. Floor pads are materials used for cleaning and polishing floors. They are mainly attached to polishers for use. We have been honing our technology for non-woven fabric, which is the material we use, and we want to tell people all about its performance and efficacy.
- You used this show last year too, but what was your reason?
Shows are a good opportunity for gaining points of contact with new customers, so we use them a lot. Among the shows, “Building Maintenance Human Fair and Clean Expo” is the one that draws the most people involved in building maintenance, so we make the most of it every year. Other shows are commonly held region by region, but this one is probably the only one that draws people from the whole country. We can meet people from all business types, from everyday cleaning to complete cleaning of whole commercial facilities.
We use demonstrations to let people confirm the performance of our products, then we follow up with them individually after the show.
- Did anything good happen at last year’s show?
We exhibited floor pads last year as well, and we launched them a few years ago, but we were still able to meet people who were unaware of products that we are strongly promoting. It was good to hear customers learning of our products for the first time saying “We’d like to try that out” or “Could you come to show it to us in our workplace?” We sometimes get queries like “Can you show us how it’s used in practice?”, so we follow up after the show too, dividing the work with the sales department. We noticed that if we promote the appeal of a product we want to turn into an established classic, even if it’s not new any more, we can get a solid response.
- Do you do demonstrations in show venues?
Yes, we do. Last year, we brought in a polisher, laid out some dirty tiles on the floor, and demonstrated it right there. People can check how efficiently our product removes dirt, compared to older products, so everyone accepts it. It’s impressive how many people even a small demonstration attracts.
Collecting customer comments to use in future product development
- Do customers ever tell you what they want?
Originally, our objective for exhibiting at shows, besides promotion, was to gather responses from customers. People who visited our booth last year talked to us about all kinds of issues. From our perspective, we can gather a surge of comments directly from end users, so that’s an extraordinarily efficient situation. Also, people from our engineering department are very keen to stand in the booth and talk directly to customers. Comments like “it would be good if you improved that some more” or “this is the thing that’s difficult to use about your current product” give us ideas for our next development, and we want to keep on doing that.
- What kinds of problems are common among your customers?
This is also a social problem, but the lack of workers is a major issue facing cleaning and maintenance work. We present products which impose less workload and raise working efficiency. For example, the floor pads we’re exhibiting at this show have enhanced performance that takes less time to remove ingrained dirt from floors, so we hope that will reduce people’s workloads even a little. This year, again, we plan to introduce the features of our products, while hearing about real issues directly from our visitors. We are looking forward to meeting many more new customers.