Housewares Design Awards

2006 Best in Category: Home Environment Electrics

Medisana USA, Inc.

Ultra Sonic Personal Humidifier

Manufacturers have been turning up the volume on design in the humidifier category in an attempt to widen the seasonality of the product category.

Companies are taking a number of paths toward this end, including positioning their products for wellness and beauty benefits or ramping up the focus on health benefits.

Medisana USA Ltd. is taking the latter strategy with its personal humidifiers, which are a major emphasis for the company. Medisana is distributed in North America by Royal Appliances, which is owned by Techtronic Industries Co. Ltd.

With its personal humidifiers, Medisana is seeking to stay out of the “me too” business by offering unique products in unique categories.

The company– which focuses on health control, home therapy and beauty – designs its products, including the personal humidifier, for women age 25 and up. That is the company’s core focus: the home caregiver, who wants a safe environment for her family, everywhere from their actual home to a hotel room they might stay in during a vacation.

This consumer will spend money to make her family’s personal space healthy. Its is for this consumer that the personal humidifiers have been designed.

Several cool-mist ultra-sonic personal humidifiers are in Medisana’s assortment. Designed for travel, the units feature a blue LED bottle lamp as a nightlight, high/low vapor control, and auto-stop. The machines are touted as “virtually silent.” A single filling lasts up to nine hours. Each unit can humidify up to 1,000 cubic feet in two hours, according to the company.

In addition to the base model, units also are available packaged with Eucalyptus for cold therapy. A unit also is positioned for aromatherapy in that it is packaged with small bottles of Natural Rose, Jasmine and Lavender scents.

Spurring growth in the humidifier category has been challenging due to the category’s perceived seasonality. Winter is when the lion’s share of humidifiers sales takes place.

Manufacturers have been seeking to develop a steady stream of innovation in terms of performance and design to add value and margin in order to convince retailers to widen the winter selling window.

Some companies have been touting the wellness/beauty benefits of humidifiers, while others have been emphasizing health care. For years, doctors and pharmacists have prescribed cool-mist vaporizers (which release concentrated amounts of moisture) for cold symptom relief. At the same time, licensing agreements with established cold-relief medication brands have helped enhance point-of-purchase impact and health care credibility in the vaporizer and humidifier categories.

The ultrasonic segment has been revived with new designs, including models that offer a lighted mist feature and travel units that work with bottled water containers.

Overall, humidifier makers have been working to find new methods to optimize humidifier output effectiveness.

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