Wipes, like many nonwoven-based products, credit at least part of their success to their ability to lessen the burden of everyday tasks for their users. Household wipes gave housewives a way to freshen their homes in a simple, one-step process; flushable kids wipes made toilet training easier and cleansing cloths took at least a couple steps out of many people's daily beauty routines.
Just like disposable diapers were revolutionary in their ability to make a pretty gruesome task a little less gruesome, new wipe products have made consumers' lives easier, justifying the higher cost per use of wipes compared to competing products.
However, in recent years, consumers have faced economic woes and while the pace of their daily lives hasn't slowed down one bit, it has become harder for them to justify spending their precious dollars on certain wipe products. This has led to a slowdown in wipes growth, which was once nothing short of explosive.
According to research compiled by Euromonitor, it has been the home cleaning segment that has felt the ill affects of this situation in the past couple of years and this category decreased while personal care wipes sales continued to outpace growth in the total category.
It's interesting that personal care continues to be strong as household wanes. Could it be that in categories dealing with personal hygiene, grooming or baby care, wipes are following the same path as disposable diapers, becoming a necessity—not a luxury—in consumers' lives, while household cleaning wipes are something they are more willing to live without? Just like a mother is not going to sacrifice diapers for her child in tough times, these consumers are not going to give up their wipe-based beauty or personal cleansing products when money gets tight.
That's good news for the wipes industry. According to Euromonitor (see page 38), sales of personal care products comprise 70% of the global wipes market. While much of this centers around baby care, which is reportedly exploding in developed regions, certainly there have been some great wiping product introductions within the personal care market. And, the realization of consumers' lasting affinity toward personal care wipes should lead to new product introductions in the future as consumers continue to look for ways to make their lives easier.