According to recent data from market research company Euromonitor International, adult incontinence is the fastest growing category in retail tissue and hygiene globally, with $7.2 billion in sales in 2015. Statistics show that 12.8 billion units of adult incontinence products were sold globally in 2010, which grew to 18.5 billion units sold in 2015. Retail volume for these products is expected to grow at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 7% through 2020, with the number of units sold projected to hit 25.8 billion in 2020.
“The adult incontinence category continues to grow due to consumer education, better understanding of incontinence and better consumer awareness of products available,” says Svetlana Uduslivaia, the Global Head of Tissue and Hygiene Research at Euromonitor. “Additionally, the category is driven by expanding product assortment in stores and online channels, including specialized adult incontinence online-only retailers and innovation that sees increasing product segmentation and formats to address various types of adult incontinence.”
Stats like these have pushed adult inco product manufacturers to now offer the best, most discreet products that have ever been available on the market, and brands are using specific marketing tactics to gain this growing consumer audience.
“Normalizing” the Issue
For the younger, more active incontinence sufferer, brands have come up with savvy marketing programs so that these consumers learn that incontinence doesn’t necessarily mean big, bulky diaper anymore. Additionally, brands are educating women who would typically use a feminine hygiene itme to manage an incontinence problem, converting them to light inco pads or underwear that are specifically designed for their conditions.
In 2014, Kimberly-Clark’s Depend brand unveiled its “Underwareness” commercial program in an effort to shift the focus from “protection and function” to “normalization” for those who experience bladder leakage, according to Jake Hoerner, Depend brand manager, Kimberly-Clark. The brand’s “Drop Your Pants for Underwareness” marketing campaign launched with a free concert in New York City and was supported by advertising and a social media campaign. The Depend brand donated $1, up to $3 million, for every social media posted tagged to #DropYourPants and #Underwareness. The brand also teamed up with comedienne and talk show host Sheryl Underwood and fashion expert Carson Kressley to promote the campaign.
“The ‘Underwareness’ commercial program has brought Depend underwear out of hiding and into plain view, and is helping eliminate social stigmas while supporting the millions of people who live with bladder leakage,” Hoerner says.
Last year, to support the one in three women between the ages of 20 and 85 who experience bladder leakage, the Depend brand launched Silhouette Active Fit briefs—a moderate-absorbency brief featuring a thin design for complete comfort, offering a lower rise with an underwear-like look, fit and feel. “The Depend brand makes it clear in its communications that its consumer is younger than people think – in fact, approximately 22.9 million Americans under age 45 experience bladder leakage – and shows how Depend Silhouette Active Fit briefs can help women with bladder leakage feel confident, stylish and empowered,” Hoerner explains.
Meanwhile, for light incontinence issues, K-C’s Poise brand launched two new products last year—Poise Thin-Shape pads and Poise Impressa Bladder Supports, a pessary product. The new Thin-Shape pads were created to help women manage light bladder leakage (LBL) effectively, and are up to 40% thinner than Poise’s original pads. Designed to move with a woman’s body, the pads offer comfort and protection with super absorbent material, a dry touch layer, leak block sides, an Absorb-loc core that quickly locks away wetness and odor and a Thin-Flex design for extraordinary protection that’s three times drier than period pads, according to the company.
The Poise Impressa Bladder Supports are the first over-the-counter, non-absorbent internal product designed for the temporary management of stress urinary incontinence. Inserted into the vagina like a tampon, Poise Impressa Bladder Supports gently lift and support the urethra, which helps discreetly prevent urine from leaking for up to eight hours every day.
With its Poise brand, K-C seeks to chane the conversation for its target consumer, who doesn’t want to identify with a term like “incontinence.” Thus, the brand describes the condition as “Light Bladder Leakage” or “LBL” rather than incontinence “because it more accurately describes what she is experiencing,” says Breanna Kuhn, Poise brand manager, Kimberly-Clark. “While many women experience LBL, many rely on period pads to manage their leaks because they don’t yet know of products designed specifically for LBL.”
Thus, in January, the brand launched a new commercial program with host, actress, fitness expert and celebrity mom Brooke Burke-Charvet to educate women about LBL. “By normalizing and sparking discussion about these very common leaks, women are inspired to choose the best solutions for managing LBL, like Poise Thin-Shape pads,” Kuhn says.
Meanwhile, in the summer of 2014, P&G’s Always brand made waves in the adult incontinence market with its launch of Always Discreet, building off of the success of its Always feminine care line.
The Always Discreet line consists of liners, pads and underwear designed to offer comfort, protection and discretion, in a feminine design, that absorbs urine leaks and odors quickly. 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. The curve-hugging, disposable Always Discreet underwear is designed to be easy to wear and discreet, with the extra protection of Dual LeakGuard barriers to help stop leaks where they are most likely to occur.
“Our Always Discreet team has spent time with thousands of women all over the world learning what they truly want from a sensitive bladder product,” says Laura Goodman, MS, senior scientist, P&G. “We learned that women are seeking a product that offers protection and comfort in a feminine and discreet way. We listened to her experiences with current products and created a pad that is thinner and drier than the leading competitor’s pad, so she can feel secure and confident no matter what she is wearing. And our underwear absorbs faster than the leading brand and has a cottony-soft feel with feminine, underwear-like details.”
Goodman also notes that odor control is an important factor to its customer. Therefore, the brand created its exclusive OdorLock technology for the line, which neutralizes odors instead of simply masking them. “This technology has separate mechanisms that work together to provide a neutralizing and freshness benefit,” she adds.
Since Always Discreet’s launch, P&G claims the product spurred adult inco market growth rates in the U.S. and U.K. to nearly double, with similar impacts in other countries where the product has become available.
“One in three women above the age of 18 experience bladder sensitivity, but before we entered the category only one in nine were using an incontinence product,” Goodman says. “Since we introduced Always Discreet, more women are aware of and using a solution for bladder leaks—now one in seven vs. one in nine. This is because we are helping women to recognize that bladder leaks are normal, and with the right protection they can keep doing all of the activities they love.”
By launching its incontinence line under the Always moniker, Goodman says P&G expanded on a brand women already know and trust. The company believes this will help some women overcome the barrier to try a product for bladder leaks, rather than using a feminine hygiene pad to mask the problem.
She adds: “In addition, we’ve tried to bring more straight talk and normalcy to this category, recognizing that one in three women experience bladder leaks. For example, in our advertising we’ve used real consumers talking about how Always Discreet has improved their lives. We did the same thing when we introduced Always menstrual pads back in the 1980s—we were the first brand to show a pad in a TV commercial and to use real women talking about their periods.”
P&G’s innovation with Always Discreet resulted in a nomination for last year’s Visionary Award at INDA’s inaugural Hygienix conference.
Thinnest Product on the Block
Catering to everyone from the institutional customer to the light incontinence sufferer, private label manufacturer Drylock Technologies has continued to introduce more choices for users of adult incontinence products. The company is currently finalizing is full range of adult incontinence solutions.
The line will offer low fluff and fluffless products including fluffless light inco pads, low fluff underpads, low fluff all-in-one diapers, and soon fluffless adult pull-ups. The full range will start shipping to Germany this month, and will be available in other European countries soon after. Drylock will also begin selling to the U.S. in the next three to four months.
Drylock’s founder and CEO Bart Van Malderen says with the launch of Always Discreet, promoting itself as 40% thinner than the leading brand, Procter & Gamble really shook the market and woke everybody up. “At parallel, we were developing this fluffless product, which is of course even much thinner, so we see the evolution, just like in baby diapers going thinner. It’s all about comfort. It’s all about absorbent underwear.”
While active incontinence sufferers may have previously been afraid to go outside and take a risk, he says that these newer products are completely invisible under pants. “You can wear them under jeans without any problem, which I think is really a revolution.”
As with the company’s baby diapers, Van Malderen says Drylock will be the first with a completely fluffless adult pant, “thinner than anybody on the market.”
Ontex Makes Moves
Belgian hygiene products manufacturer Ontex has had a busy 2015. The company, which offers a complete range of absorbent products for adult inco care for men and women in various absorption levels and sizes, announced late last year that it would be building a new inco site in Dourges in northern France, replacing two smaller plants in Wasquehal and Arras, France, which primarily manufacture adult incontinence products. The company expects the construction of the building to be complete in summer 2016 and the move of the production lines will begin soon after and continue into 2017.
The new factory in Dourges will allow Ontex to further improve its production apparatus and better serve its French and international customers, while also improving working conditions, the company says. For Ontex, this project holds a major commitment to employment and growth in the long run, with the integration involving around 350 jobs, and leading to a total investment of €45 million in buildings, factory layout and machinery.
Meanwhile, in November, Ontex announced the purchase of the Puebla, Mexico-based hygiene manufacturer Grupo Mabe, which offers a full line of baby diapers, feminine hygiene items and adult incontinence goods and has sales of about €400 million, most of which occur within Mexico and the U.S. Ontex reports that Grupo Mabe has a strong position in the Mexican market, the fifth largest personal care market in the world.
Next to a strong foothold in the U.S., Grupo Mabe provides access to markets including Canada, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Panama, Costa Rica, Chile, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, and Antilles.
The acquisition of Grupo Mabe represents the next phase in the Ontex growth strategy, the company says, enhancing organic growth and providing a platform for external growth outside Western Europe, deeper into growth markets. Grupo Mabe will also increase the contribution of owned brands to the Ontex group. According to executives at Ontex, the creation of a new Americas Division around Grupo Mabe will further extend Ontex’s platform for growth.
E-Commerce & The Adult Incontinence Market
Online shopping has changed the way consumers’ research and purchase goods of all kinds, and it’s no different for users of adult inco products. While the numbers aren’t staggering quite yet, Euromonitor reports, globally, 2.9% of incontinence products were sold online in 2010 versus 5.5% in 2015. Regionally, North America leads the pack in terms of internet retailing market share, with online sales capturing 9% of the incontinence market. The geographies that follow are Asia-Pacific with incontinence product online sales of 6.6% and Australasia at 6%, and overall, online sales of incontinence products are expected to grow.
“With the category of adult incontinence on the upswing, the subject of product selection and availability in retail cannot be overlooked,” Euromonitior’s Uduslivaia says. “Online shopping has been increasingly gaining sales share, competing on convenience, discretion, better and more consistent product supply, and specialized customer support. However, the majority of purchases still occur in physical stores. Having well-stocked, well-organized and easily found adult incontinence aisles in stores would respond to consumer demand and is crucial to supporting the category and to capturing a share of the category sales.”
Uduslivaia continues, “As the younger generation of consumers is adept in the use of online tools and shopping options, the availability of products for online orders will certainly be important for the category in the coming years.”
In regards to consumers who are deciding to purchase adult incontinence products, P&G’s Goodman says many times they begin by looking online. “On e-commerce sites, consumers can learn about products and see all the reasons it might be right for them and ways it will improve their lives. Some consumers who are looking for products to help manage bladder leaks are not comfortable buying these products in stores and e-commerce provides a convenient and discreet purchasing option for these consumers.”
Focus on Men
While women may seem to be the focus of manufacturers in the category—in fact women reportedly make up approximately 75-80% of incontinence sufferers—the men aren’t being left behind. Some new products targeting males launched in the last year.
In October, SCA and its leading incontinence brand Tena launched the Tena Men Protective Shield, specifically designed to help men deal with light urine leakage. According to SCA, the Tena Men Protective Shield is incredibly thin and perfectly shaped to help men deal with urine leakage, and also features an ultra-absorbent core. The Tena Men Protective Shield is black, which the company says makes it distinctly masculine and suitable for darker underwear often worn by men.
“With a more innovative and masculine product, Tena Men is hoping to drive male consumers towards purpose made products to help them keep control of their urine leakage. The majority of men are either ignoring the issue or turning to homemade protection which is often neither effective nor suitable, making it ever more important that they are aware of the products available to help them live a better life,” says Paul Dennis, global brand innovation manager.
The shield is currently available in the U.K., the Netherlands and Belgium.
Also recognizing the needs of men with incontinence issues is airlaid nonwovens producer McAirlaid’s, which recently came out with the X-Top Pouch for men. X-Top is a sheath that covers the penis, making it more discreet and less likely to leak than traditional incontinence products for men. Using McAirlaids’ patented SuperCore technology, the product was designed to effectively control any leakage that might result from loss of bladder control, and comes in three levels of absorbency: moderate, heavy and overnight. Along with Always Discreet and an absorbent hygiene product for babies, the X-Top Pouch was a contender for INDA’s Visionary Award in 2015.
New & Noteworthy
In September, Cardinal Health, a healthcare services company, launched the Hospital Quality at Home brand, a new line of hospital-quality products available over the counter to help loved ones and caregivers transition care from the hospital to home. The product line provides a full assortment of hospital-quality products for consumers categorized as Advanced Wound Care, First Aid, Personal Care, and Home Healthcare, which help provide comfort and independence, while helping to promote healing.
The brand’s personal care product range provides advanced core protection that helps to lock in moisture and control odor to keep the wearer dry and on-the-go. Products that fall under the personal care line include incontinence underwear, incontinence briefs, protective underpads, women’s protective pads, and men’s protective guards.
“With rising health care costs, an aging population dealing with chronic illnesses and more health-conscious consumers, Cardinal Health understands loved ones and caregivers may be looking for effective and cost-efficient ways to manage care at home,” says Kristin Harper, vice president of Marketing Management at Cardinal Health. “We believe access to the same quality products used in hospitals may positively impact quality of life for loved ones and caregivers transitioning care to the home.”
The new line is available in-store at certain Meijer stores in the Midwest, Bartell Drugs in Seattle, WA, and Kinney Drugs in Syracuse, NY, as well as several hundred independent pharmacies across the U.S. Online, the Hospital Quality at Home products can be purchased on Amazon.com and Walmart.com.
Meanwhile, Parasol Medical, a developer of specialty medical devices, recently launched the drysmart incontinence pad, a real-time incontinence monitoring product that gives clinicians early warning to prevent elimination-related patient falls. The drysmart pad is the only fall prevention system that addresses incontinence—the leading cause for falls. According to peer reviewed healthcare studies, elimination-related falls are responsible for more than 50% of falls within acute care facilities. These occur when patients wet themselves, or feel the urgency to go, get up and fall ambulating to the bathroom; or fall off the toilet.
“Only drysmart pads monitor wetness in real-time and give nurses more time to reach a patient before they get up and risk a fall,” says Mike Kilcran, president of Parasol Medical. “Plus, since pads can be changed promptly, they can also help with wound prevention and reduce incontinence-associated dermatitis.”
The highly absorbent, disposable pads are placed on top of the fitted sheet under the patient. They are coated with thermal conductive ink that’s moisture sensitive, sending an alarm in real-time through the patented Parasol monitors. Drysmart pads easily integrate with wired and wireless Parasol Medical Monitors, and existing nurse call systems.
On the other end of the incontinence spectrum, Thinx, maker of reusable absorbent underwear for menstruation, has introduced Icon underwear for the light incontinence market. The briefs for women are an alternative to bulkier products, such as pads, to absorb light urine leaks, according to the company’s co-founder and CEO Miki Agrawal. Icon underwear is available in two styles—bikini and hi-waist—and can absorb up to 5 teaspoons of liquid. The company says the underwear’s fast wicking lining keeps the user dry, even after a little leak.
Through the sales of Icon, Thinx will be supporting the Fistula Foundation, helping fistula patients get surgery so that they can return to their normal lives, Agrawal says. n