Updating their image: American Sheep Industry launches new wool marketing campaign
At the beginning of August, the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) and its division the American Wool Council announced the official launch of their new promotional and educational website for American-produced wool.
The website is part of a multipronged campaign strategy, including logo redesign, website creation and use of social media, to increase awareness and education about the many uses of wool for modern consumers.
The campaign began taking shape in 2016 when a newly designed logo to promote American wool was released as part of the new wool marketing campaign, says Rita Kourlis Samuelson, ASI director of wool marketing.
“We’ve developed a new wool logo to help bring some ‘newness’ to wool,” she explains.
Samuelson continues, “As wool is a high-performance fiber, it’s one of those fibers that people have forgotten. They think about wool in their grandmother’s sweater rather than all of the new techniques that can be used in spinning and weaving or all of the fine wool breeding that’s taken place to produce high-performance, lightweight garments.”
According to Samuelson, the new logo is helpful in rebranding the appeal of wool products to American consumers and is an image to associate with the American Wool Council’s educational efforts.
“Our new logo is one of the ways we’re reintroducing wool to consumers as new and improved,” she comments.
Samuelson explains that a website, which can be found at americanwool.org, was also created in the initiative to compliment the newly designed logo.
“The website is geared toward consumers to help them understand why to wear wool,” she says. “The new site introduces wool to millennials and also reminds others about the versatility of wool and variety of products available.”
The website includes many features, including pages that showcase wool as a high-performance fiber used in athletic wear, as a premium fiber used in modern fashion and also as a fiber for use in the home.
“One of the more wonderful products that’s become popular in the United States that we showcase are wool socks in the hosiery market,” comments Samuelson. “Wool is just perfect for socks because it absorbs moisture, breathes so the foot doesn’t sweat as much and doesn’t promote the growth of bacteria, so it doesn’t have the odor that other socks do.”
The website also features information on wool care, production and processing practices and animal welfare.
The initiative also reaches out to consumers through a number of social media handles, which can be found by searching “Experience Wool” on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
Creating the new wool logo and online platform is a critical aspect of consumer education, says Samuelson.
“One of the main reasons our re-branding effort is important is to remind consumers and retailers of the versatility of wool and how it meets the needs of today’s consumer,” she comments.
Samuelson explains, many sheep breeds around the world have utilized genetic selection to create “fine wools.”
“With fine wools, we can make finer yarn, which makes lighter fabrics,” states Samuelson.
She continues, “Lighter fabrics mean more lightweight garments,” also noting that many modern wools can be worn comfortably next to skin and washed easily in a washing machine, while still providing traditional characteristics of wool.
“There are new concepts for many traditional products, so this effort helps reintroduce some young customers to wool and also reminds and re-educates those who tend to think of wool in a more traditional fashion,” Samuelson says.
According to Samuelson, impacts from the wool marketing changes will take time to see, but they will have a greater value in educating consumers than for sales alone.
“These are the changes we expect to take time because they’re not product-specific,” she comments. “We’re really focusing on education about the fiber. It’ll be one of these education efforts that will have a long-term effect.”
As she looks toward the future of wool marketing for the U.S., Samuelson explains that the industry will continue to expand product development, particularly to service the U.S. military.
“About 20 percent of our wool goes to into the military market,” she says. “We will continue to work with the military to create products to better serve and protect our soldiers.”
Samuelson notes wool is a popular fiber for military products for many reasons, one of which is that wool is naturally fire resistant.
“For instance, when a soldier wears a wool base layer, it actually helps protect them from fire dangers, such as improvised explosive devices,” she comments. “Wool also resists soiling and bacteria, and as a result, it does not need to be washed as frequently as other fiber products.”
Innovation and new products will continue to be a part of other parts of the wool industry, as well.
“There are a lot of new topical products we can put on wool to enhance certain characteristics, so new product development is a top priority,” notes Samuelson.
Currently, the U.S. exports approximately 50 percent of wool that is produced.
“We plan to continue working on domestic and export markets and finding the best buyers for our U.S. wool products,” she concludes.
Emilee Gibb is editor of Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.