According to market tracker Euromonitor International, the sanitary protection category has grown at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 3.10% (in U.S. dollars, constant value) on a global scale from 2009-2014, and this growth is thanks to the emerging markets.
In fact, according to Euromonitor, China leads the pack in terms of its CAGR in the sanitary protection space, with 8% growth (U.S. dollars, constant value) over the 2009-2014 time period. Following are Russia at 2% and Brazil at 0.8%. Together, in terms of value, the emerging markets are expected to grow 5% annually from 2014-2019. On the other hand, CAGR in the developed countries fell -1.07% from 2009-2014, and the value of sanitary protection is only expected to grow 0.2% annually in these highly saturated markets from 2014-2019.
While China has seen the most growth, Uduslivaia points out that the world’s most populous country is approaching its saturation point. One of the factors contributing to China’s growth is higher disposable income for women in the country. This higher disposable income “explains some of the tendencies in terms of product development. In China, we’re still seeing strong emphasis on mid-price to high-premium products and there are strong preferences on the consumer side for this type of product,” Uduslivaia notes.
In India, where per capita consumption is still falling behind markets like China, there are many traditional inhibitors of using sanitary protection that influence women, she says. “This is where we see a lot of work done by manufacturers working with local communities to improve women’s education [and] social status of women to educate them about the use of modern hygiene practices.”
Disposable income is also a challenge in India; therefore expansion among brands in the economy/lower-priced segment is expected. “[This] doesn’t necessarily mean they’re bad quality, they’re just really competing on price points and helping to really increase product use among women with lower disposable incomes,” Uduslivaia explains.
When it comes to education in the developing world, SCA, a global leader in the absorbent hygiene market, is just one of the brands that is promoting menstrual education.
Since 1989, the company has put forth major efforts to combat misinformation on menstruation and inaccessibility to products by offering feminine hygiene education sessions to countries all over the world.
According to SCA’s 2014 sustainability report, 12 million girls and women—from countries in Latin America, Asia and Europe—have participated in this program since the sessions began. According Harold Smolders, vice president communications, SCA Incontinence Care Europe and Global Hygiene Category, all sessions are conducted locally, and in Colombia alone, 900,000 girls have attended the company’s programs. “During these sessions girls were educated about what happens to their bodies during puberty and when they have their period,” he says.
In developing nations, various religious, cultural or traditional beliefs have led to many misconceptions surrounding menstruation. Citing the 2013 WaterAid Global Annual Report, Smolders says half of the girls in Iran and one in 10 girls in India believed menstruation was a disease. “The same study revealed that one out of three girls in South Asia knew nothing about menstruation prior to experiencing it,” he adds.
As part of its efforts to eradicate misinformation about menstruation, SCA began a partnership with the UN Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) last year. “Through this partnership, SCA aims to break the menstrual taboos that jeopardize the health of millions of women every day and raise awareness of the importance of good menstrual hygiene,” Smolders says.
SCA has held joint training sessions with WSSCC for girls in South Africa and China over the last year.
Additionally, in developing markets, the company has been improving the distribution of fem hy products to mom and pop-type shops, offering a more economic product assortment, and offering smaller pack sizes to improve the affordability and accessibility of feminine care products to women in the poorer regions of the developing world, Smolders says.
Meanwhile, in developed countries, manufacturers are doing their best to maintain brand loyalty through specific marketing tactics. The first is through “premiumization,” according to Uduslivaia. One way brands are doing this is by promoting their latest technologies that make products more comfortable, yet more efficient in preventing leaks. Secondly, packaging has increasingly been made more appealing, interesting and colorful so that it stands out on the shelf, she says.
Another strategy among retailers and brands is linking feminine care with light incontinence products. More and more retailers are displaying femcare products and light incontinence products side by side, Uduslivaia says. “This is something that’s really an attempt by the manufacturers and brands to really build loyalty across different life stages, which essentially is one of the strategies to really maintain growth and revenues in the conditions where really the demand for sanitary protection is pretty low because of the demographic shift, because of the market saturation.”
Feminine care brands are also coming out with products for adult incontinence under the same brand name. An example of this is the recently introduced Always Discreet.
The line, which launched in August 2014, consists of liners, pads and underwear designed to offer comfort, protection and discretion, in a feminine design, that absorbs leaks and odors quickly. Always Discreet liners are for light leaks, pads are for light or moderate leaks and pants/underwear are for larger leaks. “Everyone knows Always pads for period protection – and now we introduced their cousin for bladder leak protection,” says Laura Goodman, MS, senior scientist, P&G.
According to P&G, Always Discreet pads are up to 40% thinner than the leading brand and absorb twice as much fluid as women may need, based on the average consumer usage of incontinence products. Always Discreet products also contain an exclusive OdorLock technology that neutralizes odors instantly and continuously.
“Always Discreet has been developed over several years and draws on extensive product and technical development as well as consumer research involving thousands of women worldwide,” Goodman says.
While it appears that Always Discreet is seeing some success—it was recently selected as a finalist for the Visionary Award by INDA, the Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry—only time will tell if consumers cling on to the idea of brand loyalty across the two different categories.
“There are some markets where consumers really like to differentiate the brands and they know that there are brands that are experts in sanitary protection, there are brands that are experts in incontinence management, so the crossover does not always work in every market,” Uduslivaia says.
A Bounty of New Products
Another way brands are attempting to maintain growth is by introducing new products with the latest technologies, and over the last year a spate of new femcare items were launched.
The top company in sanitary protection, Procter & Gamble, launched Tampax Pocket Pearl earlier this year. The new tampons are a pocket-sized version of Tampax Pearl that offers girls discretion and protection.
The new soft wrappers offer a perforated edge for easy opening with quiet and discreet technology. The smaller tampons also fit into the palms of a hand and take up little room even in the smallest handbags for convenience and discretion. Tampax Pocket Pearl is also the only compact tampon with the unique Built-In Backup Braid designed to send fluid back into the core, providing protection in a way some tampons don’t. This extra layer of protection helps capture leaks that would normally bypass other tampons, keeping fluid locked into the core. Additionally, new FormFit technology better eliminates the gaps that cause leaks and give women an extra layer of protection.
Also, in sync with the trend of using attractive, catchy designs, Tampax Pocket Pearl tampons feature four wrapper designs that were co-created by teen girls and offer a stylish alternative in feminine hygiene options. The looks were based on the latest pattern, color, graphic and runway trends.
Meanwhile, Kimberly-Clark has debuted some items under its U by Kotex brand this year. This summer, it launched U by Kotex Security Ultra Thin pads. The pads feature a 3D Capture Core, a one-of-a-kind center that locks away wetness to help stop leaks, along with the new Xpress DRI, a cover with fast absorption. The 3D Capture Core and Xpress DRI cover are also found on U by Kotex CleanWear Ultra Thin pads. Both pads include uniquely shaped wings for a secure fit and an ultra thin, four-layer absorbent system for “seriously dry protection.”
In the land Down Under, Kimberly-Clark Australia and New Zealand launched U by Kotex Sport Ultrathins, thin and flexible pads designed specifically for women who enjoy keeping fit, having fun and leading an active lifestyle, but are concerned that their current pad doesn’t provide the protection they need.
The new product is designed specifically to protect women during sport. With a super-absorbent Flexfit Core that has been shaped to mold and contour to the body as it moves, the new Ultrathins are designed to keep women comfortable and protected during even their most vigorous workout. Additionally, the Sport Ultrathin pads have “stay in place” wings, and a breathable quick-dry cover that is noticeably thinner and discreet.
K-C Australia’s Sport Ultrathins are the second product in its U by Kotex active range, joining U by Kotex Sport Liners, which were launched in 2013 and are designed for out of period use to help keep women fresh and dry during workouts.
Also targeting the athletic woman is Edgewell Personal Care’s (formerly Energizer Personal Care) Playtex brand. The brand launched its first ever ultra-thin pads and liners designed with Sport Level Protection to the feminine care market under the Playtex Sport moniker. The brand had previously come out with Playtex Sport Tampons with 360° Sport Level Protection.
The ultra-thin pads and liners offer innovative technology including a thin and flexible FlexFit design that twists and turns with the body, OdorShield technology that neutralizes odors before they start, and Qwik-Dry technology that quickly pulls in fluid and wicks moisture away, allowing women to feel dry, fresh and confident.
The brand is also offering convenient combo packs in two varieties: Sport Tampons and Liners and Sport Tampons and Pads.
This year, SCA made enhancements to its liner portfolio. According to Smolders, the products were made more breathable and a mild lactic acid was added to maintain users’ pH balance. “This means that our liners today are not only about protecting your underwear, but they can also protect your intimate skin,” he says.
Late last year, the Swedish company also launched an innovative hygienic disposal solution across its ultra-towel range called “Roll.Press.Go” in an effort to make the disposal of sanitary products more discreet. The Roll.Press.Go wrapper has self-sealing edges on all sides. When rolling up a used pad in the wrapper, and then pressing the edges to seal it in, the pad will be tightly secured on all sides when it’s thrown away or brought along.
Seeing More Cotton
With an increasing number of women seeking more products considered natural or healthy, cotton’s place in the feminine hygiene segment has continued to grow in recent years. Corman, the Italian manufacturer of the Organyc range of feminine pads, tampons, panty liners and more, claims to offer the first complete certified organic range of feminine care products.
Corman’s use of cotton, and more specifically GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) certified organic cotton, comes as a result of developing market trends, according to Paola Stevan, marketing manager Hygienic Brands, Corman. “As consumers move toward a greater involvement with health and wellness, there has been an effect on attitudes and behaviors. Consumers care more about their bodies, focusing on diet and nutrition, natural and organic foods, goods and textiles. In addition consumers care more about their immediate environment. This is evidenced by an increase in consumption of organic, natural, recycled and energy-efficient devices, clearing and building products,” she explains.
Stevan says a 100% cotton pad provides better breathability compared to a pad made without cotton, and it is hypoallergenic thanks to its topsheet that’s made of 100% nonwoven cotton. Organyc’s pure 100% cotton core has high absorbency and wings that guarantee maximum protection.
The cotton used in the Organyc femcare line is grown without artificial pesticides, working in harmony with the environment to support biodiversity using a natural pest management system, Stevan adds.
Most recently, Organyc has launched two new products for new moms: First Days Maternity Pads and Nursing Pads. First Days Maternity Pads are made of 100% organic cotton, specifically created for a woman’s delicate skin after childbirth. They offer ultra-absorbency for heavy flow in the first days after delivery. The pad’s breathable and biodegradable protective film allows air to circulate, helping to heal and reduce the risk of infection. Organyc’s 100% organic cotton nursing pads are naturally absorbent, breathable and comfortable, according to the company.
Organyc’s newest competitor in the U.S. is the Honest Company, which launched a full range of GOTS certified organic cotton feminine care products this summer. Honest’s feminine care line includes pads, liners and tampons. The new ultra-thin pads are naturally soft and breathable for maximum comfort, and are available in regular and super absorbencies, while the liners are available in a standard size and in a thong option. Honest’s tampons are available with or without a compact plant-based applicator and expand in all directions for a more natural and secure fit and enhanced leak protection.
According to the Honest Company, the organic cotton used provides uncompromised quality and premium natural absorbency that quickly locks in wetness for reliable protection and pH compatibility.
The new feminine care line is hypoallergenic and is made without rayon, fragrances, deodorants, dyes, phthalates, pesticide residues, glycerol tricaprylate, chlorine or chlorine dioxide processing.