From Rags to Riches

October 3, 2006

That old dust rag has nothing on today’s wipes. Marketers continue to roll out innovative products that boast unique nonwoven fibers and novel cleaning solutions to make hard surface cleaning and personal cleansing easier than ever!

From Rags to Riches

That old dust rag has nothing on today’s wipes. Marketers continue to roll out innovative products that boast unique nonwoven fibers and novel cleaning solutions to make hard surface cleaning and personal cleansing easier than ever!

Tom Branna
Editorial Director

Wipes started at the bottom—or more precisely, the baby’s bottom. Yet, during the past decade, the category has grown to include hard surface cleaning, makeup applications and removal, dusting and floor cleaning. In fact, applications other than baby care now account for about 50% of sales in the wipes category. Clearly, wipes are a rags-to-riches success story in the household and personal products industry. Now marketers are moving into even more lucrative categories in an effort to expand the use of wipes.

 “One of the main benefits that wipes provide is convenience —using a wipe is quicker and easier than the alternative of dispensing a liquid and using another cloth/paper towel to clean or remove the liquid,” noted Carmen Baker, senior category manager at Rockline Industries, a manufacturer of wipe products. “As consumers become increasingly busy, they are willing to pay for the convenience that wipes provide.” 

According to INDA, the association of the nonwoven fabrics industry, the North American wipes market is valued at $3.8 billion. Of that total, personal care wipes represent about $600 million in sales, while household cleaning wipes represent $1.3 billion in sales. But not all wipes are created equal—at least when it comes to price points. While baby wipes cost about three cents each, makeup removal can carry a much higher price tag, according to INDA data.

U.S. sales of pretreated wipes, including everything from baby and cosmetic facial wipes to glass and multi-purpose surface wipes, rose 8.2% from $1.5 billion in 2004 to $1.6 billion in 2005, according to a study published earlier this year by Packaged Facts. What’s more, with 60% of the adult population already using wipes, Packaged Facts projects sales will top $2 billion by 2010. As one would expect, personal care wipes, which includes baby wipes and moist towelettes, continues to lead the market with a 62.5% share in 2005. The household wipes category increased by a CAGR of 20% from 2001 to 2005 based on heavy product innovation.

But industry experts predict that demand for personal care wipes will drive growth in the future.

“Newer, innovative products that ‘wipe on,’ such as one-application sunscreen wipes, should emerge as heavy market drivers,” noted Don Montuori, the publisher of Packaged Facts. “We also expect to see a shifting toward universal positioning platforms where a product will be positioned for a specific condition, such as acne, that can be used by more than one demographic, for example, teens and menopausal women.”

Ms. Baker agrees with that assessment. “We believe that many opportunities still exist. Some of the categories where we expect to see future growth are household cleaning wipes, toddler wipes and facial wipes.”

A Wipe for Every Stage of Life

Baby care may have marked the beginning of the nonwovens market, but most recently marketers have been expanding the wipe category beyond babies and are reaching out to older kids and their parents.

“One of the categories where we are seeing lots of growth is toddler/kid wipes. The strong toddler wipe introductions are Kandoo wipes (Procter & Gamble) and Huggies Clean Team (Kimberly-Clark),” observed Ms. Baker. “There have been some strong branded introductions recently that have been well-supported by advertising and promotions.”

The Huggies Clean Team features Freddy the Flamingo and his flushable moist wipes with pop-up tub, to let kids finish up all by themselves. The premoistened wipes with Blue Melon Splash are available in fun, collectible tub designs in 42- and 98-count sizes.

P&G rolled out Pampers Kandoo hand soap and wipes, which were introduced in January 2005 for children ages 2 to 7. The wipes are made to fit in kids’ small hands and come in three variants: Magic Melon, Jungle Fruits and Funny Berry. A year later, P&G added a 2-in-1 shampoo and foaming body wash to the Kandoo lineup.

But when it comes to personal care, wipes can do much more than take care of kids. This spring, Neutrogena, a Johnson & Johnson company, added to its personal care wipes offerings Neutrogena PureGlow Daily Cleansing cushions, dual-sided cleansing cushions containing two formulas to create the revitalizing glow of a facial at home. The textured side of these cushions contain micro-fine exfoliators that polish away dulling skin cells for a smooth complexion, while the velvety soft corduroy stripes on the other side gently massage skin with a conditioning formula for a silky soft after-feel. This two-sided pad works with two formulas, a gentle cleansing formula with rich lather to remove impurities deep down to the pores and a conditioner to replenish and soften the complexion. Manufacturers are billing the product as an at-home spa facial.

More recently, in August, Lubriderm, a division of Pfizer, introduced Lubriderm moisture mitts. The company bills the mitts as a breakthrough advance in delivering moisturization. According to Lubriderm, they are specially designed to give the consumer a convenient way to hydrate her skin after showering, when pores are open. When combined with water, moisturizers are released and quickly absorbed to leave skin soft and silky. Each mitt is good for one application. A package of 15 mitts retails for $7.99.

Self-tanning is another “pampering” area being targeted by wipes manufacturers. L’Oréal Paris Dermo-Expertise has introduced Sublime Bronze Self-Tanning Towelettes for the Face, pre-moistened non-comedogenic, single-use, self-tanning wipes designed for delicate facial skin. Able to provide exactly the right amount of self-tanner, these wipes offer a streak-free, mess-free application. And, the small size of these towelettes, which retail for $9.99, are designed for facial features.

In the feminine care arena, Vagisil now offers its anti-itch product in wipes form. Maximum Strength Vagisil anti-itch medicated wipes contain Vagisil’s odor-blocking technology and the maximum strength anti-itch active ingredient, pramoxine hydro-chloride, to relieve intense, burning feminine itch. The wipes can also be used for freshening and cleansing to stop feminine itch or odor before it starts.

“Vagisil has been alleviating feminine itch for more than three decades,” said Suzanna Keith, director of feminine care marketing at Combe Incorporated, the maker of Vagisil.  “The wipes are for women of all ages who are looking for relief from annoying feminine concerns, such as itch, odor and discharge, in easy-to-use solutions that fit into their  busy lives.”

Quick Cleaning Solutions

Nearly everyone agrees that consumers are tackling fewer household cleaning chores. When they do opt to clean, they want fast, easy solutions that require less elbow grease than their mothers used. In this climate, manufacturers of household cleaning wipes are striving and expanding with targeted solutions to help keep today’s home clean.

In recent months, S.C. Johnson has expanded its assortment of household cleaning wipes with the launch of Pledge Stainless Steel Wipes and Pledge Clean & Dust Wipes. With more homeowners opting for the professional look of stainless steel for their kitchens, Pledge Stainless Steel Wipes are billed as an easy way to restore stainless steel’s original shining surface. The wipes quickly remove fingerprints, smudges and water spots, yet they won’t scratch refrigerators, dishwashers or ovens. Pledge Clean & Dust Wipes promise to not only remove dust, but also trap allergens. The wipes contain anti-static agents that help remove more dust and allergens than dry dusting as well as fingerprints and smudges, too.

Reckitt Benckiser insists its new Lysol sanitizing wipes are now 50% stronger and clean better than Clorox wipes on grease mess. How can RB make such bold claims? It’s all in the fiber technology. Lysol sanitizing wipes are made of Micro-Lock fibers that trap dirt instead of pushing it around like ordinary wipes. They’re so strong, that they can lift a 25 lb. weight without tearing…for folks who have the inclination to do such things to nonwoven products.
The point is, say industry experts, nonwoven manufacturers and consumer product makers continue to develop unique uses for wipes. But it’s not all about marketing. The most successful new product introductions also have a healthy dose of science behind them. More wipes feature a combination of novel cleaning solutions with new ideas in fiber construction. Together, they should help wipe manufacturers continue to clean up in both the U.S. and around the world.

“Many opportunities still exist,” insisted Ms. Baker. “Some of the categories where we expect to see future growth are household cleaning wipes, toddler wipes and facial wipes.  Internationally there are opportunities in these categories.”
As consumers around the world get comfortable with the wipes concept, you can bet that demand for these convenient products will continue to grow.