The adult incontinence market is growing faster than any other paper-based household products market, driven by a growing aging population as well as greater acceptance of these products. And, because the potential of this market is so great, it often overshadows other absorbent product categories like feminine hygiene.
After seeing a significant rate of innovations—thinness, odor control, wings—in the 1990s an early 2000s, feminine hygiene product design has stabilized more recently as most consumers in developed regions are satisfied with their buying choices. Meanwhile, the adult incontinence still has a lot of room for innovation as new-to-the-category consumers look for the best product to meet their specific needs. By using the Always brand to stage its return, P&G is building off the success of Always, product that many older women—incontinence sufferers—have relied on for decades.
As the industry closely monitors P&G’s return to the incontinence, the market’s established players, like Kimberly-Clark and SCA, are also working hard to make sure their product lines can hold their own in the marketplace. This has created a seemingly neverending stream of new adult incontinence choices in the marketplace.
So, the questions is: Is anyone thinking about the feminine hygiene market? A dynamic market with low penetration in many developing regions, the feminine hygiene market has a constant stream of new customers in the form of pubescent girls. Studies show that this market is defined by extreme brand loyalty so, by attracting girls at a young age, fem hy companies can gain a customer for several decades.
Therefore, manufacturers would be making a mistake by counting out the feminine hygiene market. In fact, it is an important and dynamic industry ripe with innovation and growth potential. This month, we take a look at SCA’s activities in feminine hygiene (page 34). The Swedish hygiene products company recently completed a comprehensive study of hygiene perceptions around the world. It found that taboos and embarrassment still exist in regard to women’s menstrual cycles, and this company has been working hard to make sure all women have access to the sanitary products they need to function in society without fear or embarrassment.