Up Close and Personal

August 17, 2005

personal care wipes continue to benefit from proliferation and strong growth

up close & personal
personal care wipes continue to benefit from proliferation and strong growth
By Ellen Wuagneux - Associate Editor


With summer just around the corner, vacation plans are in full swing for many consumers and this promises to be good news for manufacturers of personal care wipes. In fact, according to The Soap and Detergent Association's (SDA) Summer Vacation National Cleaning Survey, 44% of people surveyed bring hand or personal wipes on vacation with them. Meanwhile, 31% consider cleaning/disinfectant wipes a must-have vacation item and 14% reported the use of stain wipes when traveling.

According to market tracker Euromonitor, Chicago, IL, the global market for disposable consumer-oriented personal care wipes (including adult wipes, baby wipes, and cosmetic wipes such as facial cleansing and deodorant wipes) reached $3.8 billion in 2004. As shown in Table 1, Euromonitor projects that steady growth will bring the worldwide market to $4.3 billion by 2009. Last year baby wipes were a solid $2.5 billion global market compared to $397 million for adult wipes and $886 million for cosmetic wipes.

Specifically within North America, the retail baby wipes market stands at $850 million, representing a decline of close to 6% to $804 million in 2004, according to INDA, Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry, Cary, NC. "While baby wipes volume continues to drop, about 1% in 2005, dollar sales appear to be rising slightly due to higher average selling prices," explained Ian Butler, director of market research & statistics for INDA.

Table 1
Global Retail Value Market Size For Personal Care Wipes, US$ million
  1999 2003 2004 2005 2009
Personal wipes 2,316.40 3,455.50 3,812.20 3,939.60 4,351.50 64.6 14.1 10.5 2.7
    Adult 267.5 356.2 397.1 416.1 481.8 48.4 21.3 8.2 3.9
    Baby 1,783.40 2,307.60 2,529.40 2,593.40 2,817.80 41.8 11.4 7.2 2.2
    Cosmetic 265.5 791.6 885.7 930.1 1,051.90 233.7 18.8 27.3 3.5
    Facial cleansing 244.4 723.9 816.4 861.3 974.8 234.1 19.4 27.3 3.6
    Deodorant 21.1 67.7 69.3 68.8 77.1 229.1 11.2 26.9 2.1
Source: Euromonitor International, 2005


In the personal care sector-which includes cosmetic/facial wipes, wet toilet tissue, adult incontinence, intimate feminine care, nail polish removers and hair remover pull strips-INDA estimated the North American market at $440 million in 2003. "The market analyses for 2004 are not available, but several of the segments are showing growth," Mr. Butler said. "Cosmetic wipes, for example, are rising with the introduction of a 'pillow' type cleaning wipe. Also, Cincinnati, OH-based Procter & Gamble introduced its new Kandoo moist toilet wipe for use by children in toilet training."


Procter & Gamble's new Pampers Sensitive Wipes for baby are designed to be gentler than a washcloth. They contain lotion with moisturizers.
Meanwhile, in the U.S. market, Information Resources, Inc., a Chicago, IL-based market specialist estimated baby wipes sales at $404 million and moist towelettes at $580 million from April 2004-2005 in U.S. supermarkets, drug stores and mass merchandisers (see Table 2). For this period, the top three vendors for baby wipes, according to Information Resources, were Kimberly-Clark, Dallas, TX, Procter & Gamble and private labels while the top vendors for moist towelettes were Kimberly-Clark, Playtex and private labels, with P&G ranking fourth.

As would be expected, the increasing popularity of specialty wipes for specific applications has brought about a decline in baby wipes, which were once used for everything from wiping a baby's bottom to cleaning leather car seats. According to Cathie Petak, category manager for converting specialist Rockline Industries, baby wipes have been flat to slightly trending down, likely due to the introduction of new products. "Previously consumers used baby wipes for a variety of non-baby purposes. The addition of new products such as household cleaning wipes and feminine hygiene wipes has given consumers products specifically for their needs."

Table 2
U.S. Retail Sales For Moist Towelettes
Dollar Share
Dollar Share
Unit Sales
Unit Share
Unit Share of
Sales %
of Type
of Type
% Chg YAgo
of Type
Chg Y Ago
Chg Y Ago
Chg Y Ago
Towelettes $580,743,500 4.00%     197,104,900 2.20%    
Baby Wipes $404,062,000 2.40% 100 0 112,488,500 -1.00% 100 0
52 Weeks Ending April 2005 in U.S. supermarkets, drug stores and mass merchandisers
Source: Information Resources, Inc.

INDA has also taken note of this trend, reporting that baby wipes have been slipping over the past several years in units and dollars due to dropping birth rates and cannibalization of this product as other new wipes were developed. "Baby wipes were being used for a multitude of uses and many of the new personal wipes products are baby wipes in a new venue and name," commented Mr. Butler.

Susan Everett Stansbury of Right Angle Concepts, Conover, WI, added that not only are application-specific wipes on the rise, multi-purpose wipes are also making inroads. "There are increased options for multi-purpose wipes within segments. From scrubbing to polishing, wipes like these are proliferating everything from skin care to automotive maintenance. So you can hydrate your skin, cleanse, repair, self-tan, prevent tanning and so much more that wipes make it easy to do. You can keep your car polished, get special wipes to get bugs off the grill, clean the whitewalls and maintain the leather interior. Wipes materials with various surfaces and characteristics make this possible, along with numerous additives."

Nice-Pak will debut these two new kid care offerings this Fall.

Indeed, wipes of all types are finding new application possibilities and making the most of packaging and scent innovations as well. "The introduction of P&G's Pampers Kandoo and recent restage of Just for Kids from K-C brought innovative packaging and new excitement to the toddler wipe market," commented Katya Connor, category director for the personal care consumer division of converting specialist Nice-Pak Products, Orangeburg, NY. Scent innovation and special ingredients are also active areas, leading to line extensions in the baby wipe and facial cleanser markets. "New fragrances do not always grow the market; there tends to be high cannibalization and over-SKU-ing, or product proliferation without significant category expansion," she said.

In the baby and toddler care category, P&G's 2004 Kandoo introduction represents an innovative product line for toddlers that includes foaming hand soap and flushable wipes for use during potty training. Kandoo products are designed for toddlers: the foaming hand soap has a larger depresser designed for little hands and fingers and the wipes are kid-sized and come in an easy-to-use, pop-up tub. "The Kandoo launch has been a success in North America and Western Europe," stated Lisa Jester, P&G spokesperson. "Our wipes business is doing very well and seeing strong growth across every national region," she added.

Also new from P&G is Pampers Sensitive Wipes, which the company is dubbing its "softest wipe ever." Unscented, fragrance free and safe for use on baby's delicate skin, the wipes are designed to be gentler than a washcloth and water. Pampers Sensitive wipes are available in a scented, natural aloe version, which is made with quilted material that is soft against baby's skin and contains lotion with moisturizers. They are also offered in unscented natural aloe and lavender scented versions. "We introduced Sensitive Wipes to the hospital market in 2003 and have seen growth every quarter in this business," Ms. Jester said. "We believe the wipes market will continue to grow. We are dedicated to understanding our consumers and their needs, and providing innovative ideas and products in the marketplace to meet those needs." She added that Pampers is P&G's largest, and now its first, $6 billion dollar brand.

For its part, consumer product giant Kimberly-Clark is also leveraging the strength of its top baby brand to launch several new products in the kid care category. Two such innovations are the new disposable Huggies Washcloths and Huggies Wash Mitts, which are made from a proprietary, multi-layered, composite material manufactured to provide optimal strength, flexibility, thickness, softness and texture. The combination of these properties provides gentle cleaning with cloth-like durability. To further enhance product performance, a secondary process impregnates the wipe with lathering baby wash solution capable of lasting throughout the bathing experience.

The soap-free version of the washcloths can be used either wet or dry and is versatile enough to be used at bathtime, mealtime and playtime or to wipe surfaces. Also available with scented baby wash, the washcloths offer convenience and a gentle, tear-free formulation that lathers. For toddlers, Huggies Wash Mitts also include body wash and are designed to help toddlers learn how to bathe themselves and allow parents to be able to finish the job. The wash mitts feature fun bath-time characters and are offered in a watermelon splash fragrance.

Store Brand Savvy

As any industry observer knows, brand leader innovation means only one thing: private label innovation is not far behind. Proof of this trend is Rockline Industries' recent development of a soft and stretchy kids moist toilet tissue that is being billed as the national brand equivalent to P&G's Kandoo offering. "We are launching a 50-count, colorful push-button tub, a 50-count refill/travel pack and a 100-count large refill package," said the company's Ms. Petak. "Our products are available in melon and tropical fragrances. This is a great toilet training and general hygiene product for toddlers."

Success for private label producers has in large part resulted from a shift in thinking on the part of consumers, many of whom are now more open to buying and trying private label products. "The public is really tapped in to the idea of buying store brands in a way that's much different than a decade ago," explained Right Angle Concepts' Ms. Stansbury. "Now consumers understand that store brands can be every bit as good as national brands. In some cases, they have built special loyalties to store brands and private labels that offer unique features. Both consumers and private labelers have arrived at the idea of store brands being a lot more than the 'economy' choice-in some cases they are a premium label," she said.

Nice-Pak is another company taking advantage of opportunities to compete in the private label kids wipes area. Nice-Pak has several new personal care products, including i Go! Moist Wipes (pictured above), which will begin shipping in the Fall. The wipes are positioned to provide a value-priced brand for the growing toddler pre-moistened toilet wipe market. Nice-Pak offers 50 wipes in a brightly colored press-top tub and a 50-count re-sealable refill. i Go! Wipes are berry scented and made from flushable spunlace material, comparable to the Pampers Kandoo product. Nice-Pak is offering these either as a private label branded opportunity or under the Nice'N Clean i Go! brand.

Another kid-friendly introduction from Nice-Pak is Back Pack Buddies Antibacterial Moist Wipes, which will be highlighted during the Back-To-School season. The 20-count pack is a convenient size for lunch boxes, back packs and desks. "Mothers are more conscious than ever of the need to clean hands and kill germs. Back Pack Buddies is designed for kids on the go," remarked Nice-Pak's Ms. Connor.

Cosmetic Wipes Taken to Task

In the facial cleansing area, some wet wipe products are moving beyond basic cleansing and offering additional consumer benefits and treatments, such as anti-aging, anti-acne, exfoliating and sensitive skin facial wipes. Demographic and lifestyle changes expected to influence the development of new moist wipes products in this segment include the aging of the population, the increase of "metro-sexual" men who are more appearance conscious and the wider distribution of premium-priced HBA products as the line between mass and class blurs.

"Consumer desire for convenience and cleanliness will continue to drive the personal care wipe market," Nice-Pak's Ms. Connor said. "We know that facial wipes are viewed as a convenient alternative to other facial cleansing products. And in our time-pressed society, the desire for convenience is only going to increase. Likewise, moist toilet tissue is a convenient, hygienic tool for mothers who are toilet training toddlers."

While key players such as L'Oreal are phasing out facial cleansing cloths, plenty of other producers are lining up to fill any gaps on store shelves. P&G's Olay Daily Facials and Total Effects wipes deliver cleansing and care in one step while Pond's offers cleansing towelettes for a variety of applications. Pond's Cleansing and Make-Up Remover towelettes gently wipe away dirt and makeup to leave skin soft, clean and healthy-looking in one step, according to Cheseborough-Ponds executives. A wipe was added to the Dramatic Results line as well; Dramatic Results Age Defying Cleansing towelettes contain alpha hydroxy acid, retinol and vitamin C.

The company has also launched Pond's Exfoliating Cleansing towelettes, a pre-moistened wipe with cucumber extract for gentle, everyday exfoliation. The towelettes are formulated with microbeads to renew and refresh skin with every use.

Last year, Olay launched its own wet cloth for facial cleaning and caring. Olay Daily Facials Express is a 10-second facial treatment designed to lock dirt into the cloth and lift it away from the skin, leaving the skin soft and clean. Olay Daily Facials Express is offered in two formulas: a sensitive version and one for all skin types.

Eventone Brightening wipes by E.T. Browne & Drug Co. go a step further than cleansing or even moisturizing, according to Rebecca Browne, director of marketing. The pre-moistened cloths are designed to brighten the skin while minimizing dark spots and evening out skin tone. They contain glycolic acid, licorice extract, kojic acid and aloe vera. "As already strong believers in the skin brightening category, a skin brightening wipe seemed like the next logical step," explained Ms. Brown. "Palmer's Skin Success Eventone Brightening facial wipes offer the immediate benefit of brighter skin in a wipe delivery system."

Another new idea is incorporating UV protective ingredients into a wipe. Contract manufacturer Clinical Results, Inc., St. Petersburg, FL, recently introduced SPF 30 Sunscreen Towelettes with Aloe Vera. Available in a handy, multi-pack canister, the new technology traps the active SPF ingredients into the towelette, making application and spreading easy while preventing the towelette from drying out.

In the private label facial cleansing market, Nice-Pak introduced its Nice N'Clean Exfoliating Cleansing Towelettes in January. The wipes offer soft cleansing beads and a clean, refreshing cucumber scent. They are hypoallergenic and effectively remove makeup, even waterproof mascara. Available in an attractive 30-count tub, a 30-count re-sealable refill or a 15-count travel pack, the wipes are offered as either a private label branded opportunity or under the Nice'N Clean brand.

Wipes Of Tomorrow

Looking forward, future trends include consumer-appealing packaging, new fragrances, different wet wipe lotions and even more products designed to meet specific needs (such as feminine hygiene wipes). Last winter's flu vaccine shortage raised awareness of the need for frequent hand washing and portable wet wipes for cars, purses, backpacks and lunch boxes are predicted to benefit from an increasingly germ-conscious society. In terms of technologies, many companies are keeping a sharp eye on the growth of spunlace use for U.S. wipes products, particularly baby wipes. 

Flushability and biodegradability are expected to remain key issues as the personal care wipes industry moves forward. In fact, INDA and EDANA (the European Disposables and Nonwovens Association) have established a joint task force examining standards for determining flushability.

As raw material costs for both applicators and containers continue to escalate, price pressure is a continuing concern for producers as well as suppliers all the way down the value chain. Consumers too are cost-conscious and are expected to become even more so as the personal care wipe market matures and usage expands throughout the population. While consumers continue to search for just the right mix of quality and cost, producers must respond with products that meet these demands. "Wipe products need to strike the right balance between functionality and cost per use to be successful in the market," said Nice-Pak's Ms. Connor. "Price alone will not build the market and meet the functionality and quality expectations of the consumer."

For the future, one thing is sure: as quality continues to rise, producers are able to protect their niche markets even more effectively. "North American producers are introducing truly value-added wipes, which are harder for competitors to duplicate and will be more profitable," predicted Ms. Stansbury of Right Angle Concepts. "We will see continued expansion of wipes into formerly non-wipes-using segments. For example, they loom as strong competition and line extensions for paper towels, janitorial wovens and bottled lotions. The quality and variety of nonwovens and additives make much of this possible."

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