Volume 11, Issue 2 - March/April 2007

IWFA Update
An International Travelogue
by Tom Niziolek 

Nobody enjoys traveling alone. The flights feel longer and you never get a good table at a restaurant. So I decided to bring all of you along for my latest trip. No, not literally. Rather, I thought I would let you in on some observations I have made as a result of visits to several countries around the world. 

Every nation enjoys its own unique culture. So, it makes sense that our industry faces challenges—and enjoys opportunities—that vary from country to country. In this column, I will share insights into the state of the window film market in China, Japan, Australia and throughout the European Union (EU). 

The Chinese Market
By all accounts, China is one of the world’s most important emerging markets. When it comes to window films, Chinese buyers place a high value on authentic goods manufactured by American companies. The high demand for American-made films has contributed to the rise in counterfeiters. This issue is particularly pressing in the automotive sector. To ensure they are receiving the products they were promised, Chinese dealers are carefully inspecting the quality and origin of the materials they procure.

Commercial building is also booming in China. In fact, some may argue that the country’s economy is growing faster than the government’s ability to establish safety and environmental standards. As a result, energy consumption threatens to outstrip supply, which is just one of the reasons why I expect to see an increase in demand for solar control films in China.

The Land Down Under
Australia faces a similar challenge to that of China. Many aspects of Australia’s window film industry are extremely advanced, but the country lags behind some of its industrial counterparts in terms of demand for safety glazing.

Arigatou, Safety Film
The flip side of Australia’s coin is the Japanese market. While the automotive sector has declined over the past few years, the country’s vision for safety film usage to combat seismic activity is likely the most sophisticated in the world. Decorative films also are in high demand in Japan.

Heading West
While it would be an oversimplification to contend that the window film industry is consistent throughout the EU, there are some trends that remain constant among member nations. The region’s independent trade organization, the European Window Film Association (EWFA), is addressing requirements of the EU around the standardization of auto tint regulations. The EWFA is also helping foster acceptance of certain films as “safety devices.” Europe is widely regarded as a leader in alternative energy, so it is no surprise that solar control films complement the EU’s conservation mindedness. 

So there you have it: a trip around the world in about 400 words … and no security lines. 

Tom Niziolek is marketing manager for Madico Inc. and president of the International Window Film Association (IWFA). Mr. Niziolek’s opinions are solely his own and not necessarily those of this magazine.

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