It is interesting that ANEX has returned to Tokyo (where it had a home several times during the 1990s and early 2000s). In recent years, so much attention has been paid to China and other emerging parts of Asia, which were seen as promising growth centers for nonwovens. By and large these predictions of growth have come true. Chinese consumers are buying more diapers than ever before and investment levels show that the same will soon be said of parents in countries like India, Thailand and Vietnam.
Amidst this growth, Japan—with its developed economy and shrinking birth rate—had been moved to the back burner. Even Japanese-based companies began looking outside their home country for growth.
Even as this trend continues and diaper makers like Unicharm, Kao and Daio focus on satisfying the needs of customers in China and elsewhere, the dominance of Japanese made products cannot be ignored. Japanese diaper makers have learned that it isn’t good enough that their companies are making the diaper, they need to be made by them in Japan for the Asian customer to want them. Japan has been among the most sophisticated and advanced societies in Asia—if not the world—for decades, and consumers outside of Asia continue to want a piece of it—even if it’s in the form of a diaper.
It will be interesting to see how long Japan’s dominance in the hygiene market continues. Some watchdogs already see some local Chinese brands making some waves in the marketplace and surely the new generation of Chinese consumers will have different perceptions of Japanese made products. Time will tell what those perceptions will mean.