Impact of COVID-19 on Synthetic Leather Market : Implications on Business

High Demand for Eco-friendly and Sustainable Synthetic Leather Products

Over the past decade, the global demand for synthetic leather has witnessed significant growth. The soaring demand for synthetic or faux leather is driven by a range of factors, including evolving consumer trends, mounting concerns over the impact of traditional leather on the environment, ascending demand for animal-free products, and growing awareness regarding the attributes of synthetic leather, among others. At present, synthetic leather is increasingly being used in a range of applications, which include footwear, interior designing, furnishing, automotive interiors, garments, and luxury goods.

Animal cruelty regulations and policies across the world are playing a critical role in boosting the prospects of the synthetic leather market, as more number of consumers are inclined toward purchasing products that are animal-free.

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Over the past few years, the prices of traditional leather have increased consistently worldwide, which, in turn, has propelled the demand for cost-effective alternatives such as synthetic leather. The physical and functional properties of synthetic leather are at par with that of traditional leather – a factor that is playing a key role in increasing the demand for synthetic leather. Due to these factors, the synthetic leather market is projected to reach a value of ~US$ 157.3 Bn by 2027 from ~US$ 85.5 Bn in 2018.

synthetic leather market infographic

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Adoption of Polyurethane Synthetic Leather Gains Momentum

In the past few years, the adoption of ethically manufactured materials, such as synthetic leather in various end-use industries has grown at a rapid pace. Increasing number of consumers are leaning toward purchasing greener and sustainable products, which, in turn, has increased the demand for polyurethane leather. The polyurethane product type segment is projected to account for ~ 67% share of the synthetic leather market, in terms of value, and is expected to reach a value of ~US$ 12.2 Bn in 2019.

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The demand for polyurethane leather is gaining significant momentum, as this type of synthetic leather is highly durable and flexible. Since polyurethane leather is developed using a range of artificial chemicals and without using animal products, it is gradually gaining popularity as ‘vegan leather’. Since no animals are harmed during the manufacturing of polyurethane, consumer affinity toward using products made from this leather is growing, which, in turn, is accelerating the growth of the synthetic leather market. As polyurethane leather does not fade when exposed to sunlight, it is increasingly being used in interiors of automobiles.

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Rise in R&D Investments to Develop Sustainable Synthetic Products

Within the synthetic leather market, research and development activities have played a pivotal role in differentiating the overall attributes of synthetic leather from traditional leather. Stakeholders in the synthetic leather market landscape are investing in research and development activities to develop synthetic leather with superior properties. Upcoming and established players in the current market landscape are engaged in the development of synthetic leather with various textures, colors, patterns, and functionalities. Several companies are entering into strategic partnerships to develop innovative and sustainable synthetic leather in tune with evolving industry trends. For instance, BASF and Greentech entered into an agreement wherein the companies announced the launch of a joint laboratory for the development of synthetic leather. The new research and development center will be predominantly focused on the manufacturing of sustainable and efficient synthetic leather by leveraging the innovative technologies of BASF. Furthermore, the companies announced that the collaboration will also facilitate the production of new prototypes that they aim to commercialize for different applications.

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