Talking specifically about baby diapers, Ever Green produces both the traditional S-type and T-type diapers, with a variety of features to meet demands from different consumer classes including low, middle and premium tier markets. Ever Green also produces the standard low entry products but also premium products with two absorbing cores, adjustable waistband, double leg cuffs, breathable cloth like back sheets, etc., and sells its diapers under the brands Natural Baby, Huppy, and licensed Backyardigans.
Nonwovens Industry talked with Hong recently about trends in Brazil’s baby diaper market as well as Ever Green’s role in it.
Nonwovens Industry (NWI): What are the key trends in Brazil’s baby diaper market?
Amauri Hong, director, Ever Green: About four years ago, the Brazilian market saw an explosion in the total amount of diapers being produced and sold, increasing significantly penetration levels, especially in the Northeast region of Brazil where the lower tier consumer class started having disposable income to try baby diapers.
Before this time babies in these regions either used to go naked or wear cloth diapers. Growth derived from very basic, low entry, low profit margin baby diapers. We are talking about diapers with non-printed standard poly back sheets, top sheets with 10 gsm weight basis and extremely low SAP/fluff concentrations.
Today this scenario has changed a little bit. Brazilian consumers in general are now looking for diapers with improved absorbency and features. The Brazilian market is still very far from the qualities we would normally see in North America, Europe or Asia, or even compared to some of our regional players in Chile or Colombia. However, with the improvement of social and economic conditions among Brazilian consumers, there is a growing demand for better diapers, although at a very slow pace, with better absorbency and better features such as printed laminated cloth like back sheets, higher gramature top sheets with 12-16 gsm and mechanical (velcro) side tapes.
NWI: Designer diapers in limited edition is a growing trend. What are your thoughts on this strategy and does Ever Green offer any such products?
Amauri Hong: Some manufactures are trying this by offering diapers that look like jeans, or a different design scheme for particular seasons. In my opinion there are more effective trade marketing initiatives to enhance consumer spenditure than limited edition campaigns. Here at Ever Green we have never done this before. What I know is what I hear from the market at the point of sale. Limited editions are troublesome, require extra inventory space because they have to hold this extra sku and the normal ones too, and because they are more expensive, consumers in the end did not see the advantage of spending more for the diaper just because it was a limited edition.
NWI: Are private labelers operating in the Brazil diaper market and competing with the big brands?
Amauri Hong: For some unknown reason, private label companies never developed in Brazil as in the U.S. There have been a lot of discussions, with several alternative answers to why this is the case, but there is one general consensus. The obvious private label customers (i.e. the bigger retailers) diapers could not really compete with the leading brands on the point of sale. Here “competition” is not related to the quality of the diapers. Most manufactures here in Brazil could actually produce very similar quality diapers like the leading brands, however, they could not “compete” on the price levels.
The entire private label strategy, in theory, is based on the fact that we could deliver same quality/features diapers like the leading brands, but at a much more attractive price level. However, because there are a lot of manufactures here in Brazil, competing for the exact same shelf space, prices of baby diapers are very deflated—even for the leading brands—leaving very little margin for the private label companies to sell same quality, “cheaper price” diapers for the major private label customers. In the end, there was not really a price advantage on the private label brands over the leading brands because of the very tough price competition, and therefore, no real benefits for the end consumer to buy a private label brand.
NWI: In terms of geography, what are the global trends as well as regional trends that are shifting and shaping the market? Where is growth being driven and how is your company responding?
Amauri Hong: In terms of global trends, I think we will continue to observe innovative products originating from the Asian region. We can see very sophisticated products with improved material design and machine run ability, on the Asian diapers.
Here in Brazil, as I mentioned earlier, we are still very far behind from the common diapers you see in other parts of the globe, because of the price pressures. Slowly we are moving up. I believe that today there is very little room for low entry diapers as the economical and financial feasibility of such products become harder to meet. Growth will come from the ability to deliver improved diapers with enhanced features at the right price that will fit in the end consumer budget. This is what Ever Green is working on at the moment.