The world market for feminine hygiene products was worth a massive $18.7 billion in 2006, an increase of 5% on 2005, according to Euromonitor International statistics. This was in spite of a downward trend in many developed markets, where declining birth rates have resulted in fewer new users of sanitary protection. This is a particular problem in China where, as a result of the one child policy and a preference for sons, there are currently 40 million less women than men.
This situation mirrors that in other hygiene product categories, where brands are increasingly focused on emerging markets as sources of growth, particularly in terms of volume expansion, while relying on high levels of innovation in developed markets in order to raise unit prices and protect revenue streams.
However, it is not simply a case of supplying low-cost products to countries such as China while concentrating on developing the premium category in markets such as the U.S., the U.K. and Germany. Instead, manufacturers need to understand that emerging markets are much more diverse, with demand for luxury products on the rise and with the popularity of some product types totally different than in Western markets.