Features

Wipe Hype

June 18, 2008

baby care still dominates personal wipes market as consumers worry over excess spending and narrow in on essentials

Wipe Hype

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baby care still dominates personal wipes market as consumers worry over excess spending and narrow in on essentials

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By Ellen Wuagneux
rnAssociate Editor

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rnAs U.S. consumers brace themselves for gas prices forecast to hit $5 per gallon this summer, many are wary of spending their salaries on discretionary items such as facial, deodorant or feminine hygiene wipes. When it comes down to buying a $4 gallon of milk or, say, a $4 package of disposable wipes for cleaning bald heads, most consumers won’t think twice—necessity trumps luxury.
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rnJust the same, a minority of consumers with active discretionary spending habits may be enough to keep producers of high end, niche wipes happy.  “Upscale consumers who look for the latest skin care products—plus baby boomers looking for anti-aging treatments—are prime targets for personal care wipes,” observed consultant Susan Stansbury of Right Angle Concepts. “These wipes categories have branched far beyond cleansing, makeup remover and exfoliating pads. The latest products include pre- and post-spa wipes, skin bronzers, rejuvaskin products, microaquatic fortifiers, ultra-light face lotions and even Banana Boat brand’s Aloe After Sun Cleansing Wipes to remove sunscreen, sweat and sand.”
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rnBaby wipes, of course, are a different story because consumers tend to consider them a “need” rather than a “want.” “This is a product without substitutes,” stated Adrian Atterby, industry analyst disposable paper products for Euromonitor International. “On the other hand, niche, task-specific wipes don’t give you anything you can’t get somewhere else cheaper. These wipes do provide additional benefits, such as increased strength and impregnated cleansing solutions; however, consumers seem increasingly unwilling to pay the price premium needed to attain them. Instead they prefer to spend less to obtain the basic features offered  by substitute products.”
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rnEuromonitor estimates total personal care wipes sales in North America were $1.4 billion in 2007, with most of this figure (just more than $1 billion) representing the baby wipes category. The growth rate for baby wipes has slowed from a robust 10% to a still very respectable 6%, with the category achieving North American value growth of 5.5% last year, a half a percent drop from 2006 and a full percent lower than 2005.

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