by Virginia L. Kubler
Recent technical advances in automotive window films and increasing consumer concern about UVA skin damage when traveling in an automobile make it timely for glass shops to take another look at window film as a viable and rewarding add-on business. And if this potential business builder has not been examined in the past, perhaps it should be now.
Environmental concerns and clear high-tech window films have opened up an entirely new segment of the automotive marketthe many car owners who in the past would never have considered buying and installing window film on their automobiles. The concept of darkening a cars windows for privacy or tinting the glass for aesthetic reasons never had much appeal to the mature conventional mainstream. But the idea of a transparent protective window film that answers a vital health consideration by blocking 99.9 percent of all ultraviolet rays, UVA and UVB, from entering the car, without altering the light transmission of factory glass, has compelling appeal. This cogent appeal can translate into big business for the glass retailer and film installer.
Increasingly, the medical community and consumer media are paying attention to the dangers of ultraviolet (UV) ray penetration into automobiles. Most people believe they are safe from the suns harmful UV rays whenever they are shielded by glass. In cars, however, UV protection is generally far from complete. The windows and windshield somewhat reduce exposure to UVB (short wave radiation between 290 and 320 nanometers) but only the windshield comes partially treated against UVA (long wave radiation between 320 and 400 nanometers) in the form of a plastic laminate. The other windows block little or none. Even factory installed solar tinted glass will only absorb less than ten percent of UV rays. This is important because UVA represents 90 percent of all UV radiation reaching the earth.
The current issue of Sun & Skin News, the official publication of the Skin Cancer Foundation, includes a page one article with the heading "Drivers Alert: You May Be Vulnerable to Sun Damage" and goes on to quote world renowned dermatologist, Albert M. Kligman, M.D., Ph.D. and University of Pennsylvania professor emeritus. Dr. Kligman states that the result of the inadequate UV protection provided by original equipment auto factory glass is measurable skin damage. "Comparative studies have shown that photo damage is greater on the left side of the body in American drivers, and on the right side of the body in Australian drivers, whose autos are equipped with right hand drive." According to Dr. Kligman, "The amount of long-wave sunlight that passes through glass, including car windows, can be dangerous to your health. Glass filters out UVB but allows passage of UVA that has been shown to promote photoaging and cancer of the skin. Accordingly, it makes sense for people whose occupation and lifestyle requires long hours of driving to install solar control window film."
There is a new transparent auto window film on the market that will help protect occupants from all the dangers of UV rays, in effect an UV shield. It carries a seal of recommendation from the Skin Cancer Foundation, is available in all 50 states and is the only film allowed to be fitted to the front side windows of automobiles in California. The new product is a micro-thin, lightweight film that is virtually invisible when fitted. It blocks out 99.9 percent of all UV rays that normally pass through auto glass. Because it is transparent, it does not affect visibility day or night.
In addition to providing protection against dangerous UV rays, the film will reduce heat entering a vehicle and also prevent deterioration of seat belts and child safety straps due to sun damage. Furthermore, in the event of an accident, this strong, flexible automotive window film will help hold shattered glass in place helping to prevent injuries from flying shards of glass.
Transparent UV protection auto films provide a new and viable means for the glass retailer entering the window filming business and significantly increases existing business. And there is a great deal of support available to make the transition easy and speedily rewarding. Auto film manufacturers are keen to support glass retailers with tailor-made individualized area sales analyses, sophisticated start-up recommendations and factory staff training programs that will get a new business off to a quick and efficient start. In addition to assistance in setting up the business, powerful sales support materials and marketing programs encompassing a full range of hard selling point of sales materials and brochures, radio and TV advertising are on hand to give the add-on business exciting impetus.
The new generation of automotive window films meet a growing health worry, skin damage and cancer, and a virtually untapped health concerned adult market for light auto film creates a unique opportunity for rapid sales of solar protection films. The glass dealer, a logical "turn-to" resource for glass protection, has a very real opportunity to tap into this rapidly expanding business explosion. And the film producers are ready and equipped to help.
Virginia L. Kubler is director of sales and marketing for Llumar Window Film, manufactured by CPFilms Inc., in Martinsville, VA.
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