“We believe that the personal care wipes market will continue to grow at rates experienced in recent years,” says Doug Arnold, senior vice president of contract manufacturer Kleen Test Products. “The combination of great formulas and specialized nonwoven substrates provides consumers with a level of convenience and performance that is unmatched by other formats. As Generations Y and Z were growing up, wipes were present in many of their homes and they became consumers. As the marketplace demographics continue to evolve, we expect to see the household penetration rate for personal care wipes continue to rise.”
Globally, the personal wipes market delivered $10.1 billion in retail sales in 2018 (U.S. fixed exchange rate), according to market tracker Euromonitor International. Because of their wider use—and the fact that they’re cheaper—baby wipes continue to dominate the category and represented a 57% value share in 2018. Through 2023, all categories are expected to see growth with general purpose wipes and moist toilet wipes expected to experience the highest growth.
While the majority of sales of wipes are still coming from developed markets, where categories are more established, some of the growth is coming from the developing markets, according to Svetlana Uduslivaia, head of Home & Tech Americas at Euromonitor. “There is still room for more product penetration as modern hygiene trends and products are making their way into the households.”
Innovation also helps to support consumer interest and demand, she adds. “In smaller categories, such as intimate wipes, we continue to see efforts to position wipes as part of daily feminine hygiene alongside other fem care products. However, in the developing regions and even in developed, most wipes are seen as more of a discretionary category, with the exception of perhaps baby wipes that are well ingrained into the developed regions routine for a multitude of purposes.”
One of the major trends shaping the personal care wipes category is the increasing request for more natural products. In addition to the proliferation of biodegradable and compostable fibers in wipes, consumers are wary of certain product formulations and chemicals, preferring a less-is-more approach when it comes to ingredients. Plant-derived ingredients, as well as products that avoid certain chemicals (think: parabens, phthalates, sulfates) have become more important to consumers in recent years.
“There is a push for materials and ingredients (including those in impregnated wipes) to be more sustainable and meet consumer perception of a healthier product,” says Uduslivaia.
The push for sustainable products isn’t just coming from consumers. Because of increasing pressure on the industry from the government initiatives across countries to be more sustainable, Euromonitor has found that many in the industry are innovating to meet or even preempt current and potential regulatory restrictions on materials and chemical preservatives in wipes. “All wipes categories are impacted and will be impacted further as the regulatory and consumer push is not going away,” Uduslivaia explains.
To drive demand long term, innovation needs to focus heavily on addressing/preempting legislative pressure to improve wipe footprint on the environment and health, she adds. “We are likely to see more innovation and shifts towards materials that are seen as more sustainable, from cellulose to fast renewable sources like bamboo and others.”
Wipes manufacturer Diamond Wipes International is responding to consumers demanding products with clean formulations and sustainable ingredients that are also biodegradable and recyclable. “The demand partly stems from a concern about their effect on the environment, however, other shoppers simply prefer cleaner formulations because they feel these are better for their skin,” says Jessica Lum, president of Diamond Wipes.
Diamond Wipes offers vegan and natural formulations, biodegradable substrates, such as bamboo and rayon, and recyclable materials. “Natural, eco-conscious principals are not just reflected in Diamond Wipes’ product offerings,” Lum says. “Every Diamond Wipes product is produced using 100% solar power.”
Kleen Test Products is also observing more demand for products that fit into the natural space. According to Arnold, a frequent request is for formulas that are biodegradable and wipe substrates that are compostable. “In the area of formula development, there continues to be more chemicals added to our customers’ lists of unacceptable ingredients, so our formulators ensure that they stay abreast of the latest chemistries that provide the needed function, but in a more earth friendly way,” he says.
The naturals space is a growing category and Kleen Test expects that interest levels will continue to grow. “In addition to new products and new brands, we see traditional, long-term players in the personal care space pursuing natural alternatives for ingredients and substrates,” he adds.
As the major wipes makers heed the call for more sustainable wipes substrates and formulations, they are also focusing on new sustainable packaging solutions. Last year wipes manufacturer Nice-Pak launched the U.K.’s first recyclable packaging for wet wipes. The 100% recyclable packaging is part of the company’s efforts to improve the sustainability of its products and packaging and marked the culmination of 18 months of development work aimed at aligning more closely with consumer environmental aspirations.
The Nice-Pak packaging team worked closely with material suppliers to develop both film and resealable labels, which, together, can be recycled through existing facilities for carrier bags. The new packaging will initially be used to house the company’s Aqualettes baby wipes.
“We believe that both customers and consumers alike deserve more choice in meeting their environmental aspirations,” says Peter Bushell, Nice-Pak International packaging development manager. “The mono-polymer project has been technically challenging but we are proud to have achieved this U.K. first as part of our ongoing efforts to improve the environmental footprint of our products. We have strived to render this product ‘recycle ready’ to support the future development and harmonization of the recycling infrastructure.”
For its part, Kimberly-Clark U.K. is reportedly eliminating plastic from its wipes sold within the U.K. soon. Recognizing demand for sustainable alternatives in the baby wipes market, K-C aims to reach the plastic-free status within five years.
Huggies claims it uses up to 50% less plastic in its wipes than other leading brands and planned to remove 50 tons of plastic from its products by the end of last year. To achieve plastic reduction it is cutting excess packaging from inside larger multipacks (12 and 18 packs; equivalent to 43 tons of plastic per year), and also reducing the plastic in its Huggies Extra Care lineup by 17 tons through product upgrade initiatives.
Within the next five years, Kimberly-Clark U.K. will launch new 100% recyclable packaging across the Huggies portfolio which can be recycled at large supermarkets with film and carrier bags and also transition to a fully sustainable wipe and packaging portfolio.
These sustainability trends aren’t just a focus for the major players in the hygiene and wipes markets. Smaller startups are building their brands based solely on cleaner, “better for you and the earth” offerings.
When it launched its line of Clear+Dry baby diapers in August, ParasolCo, a niche, premium baby care brand, also debuted a new line of baby wipes. The plant-based Clear+Pure Baby Wipes with natural aloe leaf extract nourish and restore the skin’s natural pH balance.
Meanwhile, Naturalena Brands, which debuted its own line of cotton-based baby care products in 2018 under the Happy Little Camper brand, offers 100% natural cotton wipes, flushable wipes and diapers that are third party tested and dermatologically approved.
The company identified a lack of transparency from many of the mainstream brands regarding the raw materials used in their product composition, especially now that there are more and more raw materials available which lessen a product’s environmental impact and have less chemicals in general. “When we design all of our products we ensure a balance between product efficiency, environment and price,” says Adrian Forsyth, director and co-founder of Naturalena Brands.
Major retailers are also responding to the clean and green trend with new lines of private label products. An example of this is Target’s new Cloud Island brand of 30 affordable, baby-essentials. The line features baby wipes that are ultra-thick and made with 99% water- and plant-based ingredients including a coconut oil moisturizer. Meanwhile, Hello Bello, a plant-derived baby care line that launched exclusively at Walmart stores last year, offers thick, plant-based baby wipes that are fragrance-free, hypoallergenic, and made with a formula that is 99% water with aloe and chamomile.
Skin Is In
Outside of baby care, companies have also ramped up innovation in other categories including skincare and body cleansing. Lum of Diamond Wipes says that CBD and hemp related products are gaining popularity as consumers are more educated on its nourishing and therapeutic effects. The company has seen more requests from brands for CBD/hemp formulations, and through its own La Fresh brand, Diamond Wipes recently launched Hemp Oil Face and Body Wipes. Rich in omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, Hemp Seed Oil nourishes and soothes skin to relieve temporary discomfort and helps keep it healthy and supple.
Arnold of Kleen Test is also witnessing this trend. “CBD is probably the hottest ingredient trend out there right now,” he says. “It has not been as popular in wipes as it has been in other formats, but we expect that will change in the near future.”
In the intimate wipes category, new product launches are intended to keep natural pH levels in balance. Last month Rosebud Woman intimate skincare launched all-new, clean beauty-inspired Refresh Intimate & Body Cleansing Wipes. The individually wrapped Refresh Wipes feature OEKO-TEX certified sustainable bamboo cloths with gentle but effective leave-on cleansers and toners in a base of aloe, purified water and witch hazel, along with tea tree, lavender and H202.
“We are happy to share our Refresh Wipes as another way to support sexual health and confidence through all cycles of a woman’s life,” says Rosebud Woman founder Christine Marie Mason. “The vulvar and vaginal skin is the most absorbent area on the human body, so we developed our OBGYN-approved Refresh Wipes with the highest-quality, safe ingredients in mind that maintain a healthy pH balance.”
Refresh wipes are the latest addition to Rosebud Woman’s luxury curation of vulva and intimate skin care formulas including: honor everyday balm, arouse stimulating serum, soothe calming cream. When asked why wipes were added to the brand’s range of products, Mason said customers were asking for them. “We think portability is important especially in intimate care,” she says. “We don’t want to rely on others to provide the kind of non surfactant cleansers and moisturizers that are good for our most tender skin. We chose to do individual wraps to preserve the essential oils and moisture level in our products.”
Mason believes most women will start carrying portable wipes. “It’s an improved experience of personal care—much better than baby or chemmy adult wipes, or worse yet, abrasive dry paper.”
Last year SKYN Condoms, a non-latex premium condom brand, created SKYN Get Fresh cleansing wipes to keep the intimate areas’ natural pH levels in balance. SKYN Get Fresh Wipes contain gentle and moisturizing shea butter and provitamin B5 to provide a soothing cleanse. Suitable for both men and women, these wipes provide an easy cleanup. While many female targeted alternatives already exist on the market, SKYN Get Fresh claims it’s the first truly unisex product in the category, aiding both partners in their intimacy. The gentle cleansing wipes are available in a 10-count and 30-count pack sizes.
Meanwhile, Queen V, which launched a line of feminine wellness products in 2018, recently announced a portion of its products are now available at 2000 CVS locations. This includes the brand’s pH-balanced Swipe Right Wipes that were designed to deliver a refreshing cleanse. Queen V products, which also include deodorizing spray and body wash, are made in FDA-approved laboratories and come gynecologist recommended; every product is formulated with a 3.8-4.5 pH to match the body’s natural chemistry.
In other expansion news, plant-based feminine care company The Honey Pot continues to grow its presence at major retailers. Last year the company announced its Normal and Sensitive Wipes would be available in nearly 2000 Walmart stores in North America. Utilizing sustainable, chlorine- and pesticide-free rayon, The Honey Pot’s intimate wipes feature antioxidants and probiotics to help women eliminate odor causing bacteria while maintaining a natural pH balance throughout the day. Honey Pot products can also be found across the nation in 1800 Target stores, 94 Whole Foods and all Wegmans locations as well as on target.com and thehoneypot.co.
“We are completely changing the feminine care space, demystifying the stigmas around vaginas and creating more natural options for women around the nation,” says Beatrice Feliu-Espada, founder of The Honey Pot. “I want every woman to have a natural alternative to the conventional products she currently uses."