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Jul 2, 2018

The launch of mosquito repellent Thermacell and its development

Mark Ashton, product manager Burton McCall, tells us about their launch of mosquito repellent Thermacell and its development

Tell me a little about you yourself?

I joined the group around 10 years ago and have worked in the outdoor trade for almost 30 years. Outside of Burton McCall I am equipment officer at Central Beacons Mountain Rescue Team.

What is the history of Thermacell?

Founded in 1981, Thermacell Repellents, Inc. (originally known as the Schawbel Corporation) began with research and development related to cordless heat technologies.

Thermacell mosquito repellent products developed a passionate following among outdoor enthusiasts. In 2014, the business was purchased by an investment group including the current management team, who are committed to accelerating Thermacell innovation and growth.

When did Thermacell first come to the market?

The Company began development of a portable area repellent as early as 1994. After years of rigorous development, EPA registration, and testing, Thermacell mosquito repellent was launched to the public in 2000.

How long did it take to develop the product?

It took more than four years for the first product to be developed, refined, tested and receive regulatory approval.

What was the first product on the market?

A basic portable repeller called the MR-1 was the first repeller produced. Many are still in service today! The new MR300 is the fourth-generation of portable Thermacell repeller and is launching in the UK and Ireland now for summer 2018.

how does Thermacell work and how effective are your products?

Thermacell uses heat to activate a proven repellent system. A tiny amount of repellent creates a 20-square-meter “Zone of Protection” area around the user. In this way, mosquitoes and midges are stopped in flight instead of on one’s skin, so Thermacell reduces both bites and the annoyance of buzzing mosquitoes and midges.

Thermacell products are highly effective and have earned the respect and trust of outdoor experts around the world. Thermacell repellents have been proven effective in some of the worst conditions imaginable. For example, the US military has used Thermacell for over two decades, both at home and overseas, warding off sand flies, no-see-ums, and disease-carrying mosquitoes in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as many other areas.

Importantly, Thermacell Repellents have been evaluated for efficacy and safety by the US Environmental Protection Agency as well as similar national institutions across Europe, Australia, Asia and in the UK. Today, Thermacell has registrations in over 30 countries.

How did you diversify your range?

Throughout the years, Thermacell has developed products to meet the needs of various types of users. The line started with portable handheld repellers and has grown to include lighted models for tabletop use, rugged camp lanterns, a rechargeable version (coming to the UK soon!), and even a unit especially for backpackers. From hunters and campers to backyard entertainers, Thermacell has a product to meet each of their needs.

What gaps in the market did you perceive?

Consumers are increasingly tired and concerned about dousing their skin and clothing in DEET and other chemical spray repellents. Thermacell frees its users from sprays and lotions, so you can spend more time enjoying the outdoors.

What changes have you seen in the outdoor market in the last few years? Is it growing?

Over recent years we have seen consolidation in the market with the number of independents declining and national accounts growing. The great news with Thermacell is it’s not limited to just the outdoor sports market. We do a number of models some aimed at the backpacking market and others aimed at the Garden/Patio market.

Thermacell’s mission is to liberate people who love the outdoors from the harmful effects of mosquitoes. Whether you love fishing, camping, adventure sports, picnicking with your family, or hosting a great dinner on the patio, Thermacell gives you the freedom to do it without mosquitoes or midges.

What, if any, changes in the market do you see in the next five years?

As non-native mosquito species (eg. Asian Tiger) and mosquito-borne illnesses continue to increase and spread across Europe, consumers will seek new and better means of protecting themselves and their children.

At the same time, an increase in outdoor sports, recreation and entertainment continue to drive the category forward.

What next for Thermacell – New products, marketing etc.

We are aggressively introducing new products as the demand for area repellents continues to increase year after year. Social media has been instrumental in getting the word out about Thermacell, helping us reach many new users who want nontopical protection from biting pests.

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