Editor's Note: This post was sponsored by WD-40 Company.
One of the most common precision maintenance challenges is applying the right kind of lubricant to the right asset, in order to help complete work on schedule and minimize unplanned downtime.
WD-40 Company is a global marketing organization dedicated to creating positive lasting memories by developing and selling products that solve problems in workshops, factories and homes around the world. Headquartered in San Diego, WD-40 Company products are currently available in more than 176 countries and territories worldwide.
We recently caught up with Erin Bala, director of brand management and innovation at WD-40 Company, to ask her how the company is helping industrial maintenance workers overcome daily job challenges.
Q: Maintenance and operations teams are traditionally focused on increasing efficiency, reducing downtime, and minimizing risk. How is WD-40 Company driving innovation to help these teams meet their goals?
A: WD-40 Company’s innovation begins with end-users in mind. In fact, the original WD-40 Multi-Use Product was developed to help scientists who were experiencing problems with rust and corrosion. Today, products like the WD-40 Smart Straw, which includes a permanently attached straw, and WD-40 EZ-REACH, which has a bendable straw for hard-to-reach places, help end users reduce downtime and increase efficiency.
For us, we look at minimizing risk through the lens of safety. That’s why our products are 50-state VOC compliant, safe to use on multiple surfaces, do not contain ingredients at levels requiring California Prop 65 warnings (including benzene or toluene), and are formulated with clean solvents and oils that have been treated to remove harmful chemical contaminants. Our products are developed with the customer’s health and safety in mind.
At the end of the day, it’s about providing a variety of products that meet the needs of our end-users. From the non-aerosol Trigger Pro, to the 16 oz. Industrial size – perfect for big jobs and industrial use – and our Bulk size that’s best for heavy duty industrial jobs that require repeated treatment, we aim to bring products to market that our users want.
In recent years, we called upon the same spirit of innovation that drove our company more than six decades ago to develop specific-use products for industry professionals. Our WD-40 Specialist line offers more than 20 superior performance products designed to help professionals get their jobs done right in the most demanding situations. We now like to say that there is a blue and yellow can for every challenge.
The WD-40 Specialist Cleaner & Degreaser, for example, is not only an EPA Safer-Choice product but is also proven to be more powerful, safer and easier to use than other degreasers on the market. Plus, all WD-40 Brand products are formulated to minimize the risk of harm to people, surfaces, and the environment (when used and disposed of as directed).
Q: How does WD-40 Brand approach the needs of industrial users, which can be very different from the needs of people who keep familiar yellow and blue cans for use in their garage or workshop area?
A: Although WD-40 Multi-Use Product is found under kitchen cabinets or in garages of almost every home across America to help with everything from lubrication to DIY projects, we know professionals have specialized needs that require professional-grade solutions for extreme conditions on the job. In fact, in 2018, we conducted research of industrial professionals and found that although multi-use products continued to be used the most for maintenance repair and operations, the need for specialty products was rapidly increasing, with usage of specialty lubricants up as much as 12 percent since 2012.
So, we developed the WD-40 Specialist line for professionals who want specialized maintenance solutions that can save them time and money on the job, and we continue to work closely with professionals across numerous industries to determine their needs on an ongoing basis. We debuted the line in 2011, and thanks to the feedback from our end users and our ongoing research and development, the number of products we offer has grown year-over-year. The line now includes lubricants, penetrants, greases, cleaners and degreasers, and rust-management solutions that are best-in-class products designed for the world’s toughest jobs. And we can back up that statement with lab testing that shows our products outperform other brands in critical performance tests for dependability and value.
Industrial professionals can be confident that our WD-40 Specialist line will help them perform the critical maintenance that protects their assets to promote longer equipment life, prevent unscheduled downtime due to unexpected equipment failure, and avoid accidents and injuries caused by poorly maintained equipment.
Q: Can you talk about how feedback from industrial users has influenced WD-40 Brand’s innovation strategy and product line?
A: The WD-40 Company takes time to understand end-user pain points to determine where there are unmet, underserved, or unarticulated needs that we can help solve. We even bring industrial users into the innovation process, having them provide input through ideation and co-creation workshops. This helps directly inform product development and ensure the company is working to deliver products that meet industrial needs, in the right sizes and formats, such as the Industrial size WD-40 Multi Use Product in 16 oz., 1-gallon, 5-gallon, and 55-gallon drums.
It was our end-users who ultimately helped us with our latest undertaking. We discovered there needed to be a stronger connection for professionals between the WD-40 Specialist products and the WD-40 Brand they know and trust. Our research shows that 89% of customers search for a specific brand when making a purchase, demonstrating a clear appetite to buy products from trusted brands. In 2020, we unveiled a new look on packaging to help end-users identify WD-40 Brand products faster. The can colors now more closely resemble the iconic WD-40 Multi-Use Product so that when our end-users look for products, they can more easily identify the name that has been trusted in maintenance products for more than 65 years.
Q: How does the WD-40 Specialist line fit in with a best-in-class product strategy for industrial professionals?
A: In addition to offering safe and effective products in sizes and formats that industrial professionals want, we believe that being best-in-class is about developing products that help pros get their jobs done right. This means rising above the competition, and we do this in two ways.
First, we design superior products. For example, there are numerous penetrants on the market, but WD-40 Specialist Penetrant not only has capillary action to penetrate deep into crevices, threads and seams to break the rust bonds that hold stuck parts together – as professionals would expect from a penetrant product – but it is also designed to be fast-acting, leaves behind a protective layer that prevents rust and corrosion from reforming, and is safe to use on metal, rubber, and plastic parts.
Second, our products solve pain points not addressed by other products in the market. An example of this is WD-40 Specialist Gel Lube. To lubricate vertical surfaces, professionals need a lubricant that doesn’t run or drip – but that didn’t exist. So WD-40 Brand created the Gel Lube – a thick, long-lasting, non-fling lubricant that stays where you spray it. It’s perfect for moving parts such as gears, bearings, cables, chains, and rollers. Not only is nothing else on the market like it, but it provides 12 times longer lasting lubrication when compared to our own WD-40 Multi-Use Product.
We are confident that when professionals use WD-40 Brand products to keep their facilities moving, they’ll quickly see how our versatile delivery systems and safe, powerful and specialized formulas can help them increase efficiency, reduce downtime and minimize risk to help them get their jobs done right.