Wipes Add Appeal for More Demographics

By Susan Stansbury, Contributing Editor | September 15, 2009

Wipes find an audience, both young and old, alike.

Go along for a ride through segments of populations using wiping products, and then add in various special interest groups and you have a fascinating look at current offerings. So here it goes, beginning with babies.

Baby and Toddler Wipes

With a global market size of about $3.8 billion in 2008, according to Euromonitor, baby wipes experienced strong global growth of about 8%. Procter & Gamble and Kimberly-Clark are category leaders.

While it’s mostly the moms who decide what’s best for their infants, they respond to the product attributes that improve the well being of their children. When Procter & Gamble broadened its Stages baby diapers lineup to include a corresponding wipe for various stages of a baby's development, there was a confirmation that brand leaders surely understand the value of offering baby wipes for every development stage. The P&G line begins with Sensitive Wipes—and also includes Pampers Swipers Wipes and Pampers Clean 'N Go Wipes. P&G Pampers Stages consist of: new baby, baby, toddler and preschooler.

K-C separates baby segments similarly. Promo­tions say, “From Happy Baby to BIG KID and everything in between! Count on HUGGIES brand for unbeatable choices.” In addition to baby age breakdowns, Huggies outlines performance features for babies that appeal to their parents/buyers. These wipes offer “gentle and sensitive care, natural care, naturally refreshing, calming touch and soft skin” options.

Numerous other private and store label wipes play an important role in the segment. In fact, private label wipes dominate the baby wipes market, representing about 30% of sales. Producer-marketers including Nice-Pak Products, Rockline Industries and Seventh Generation have delivered more advancements than typical of most me-too private labelers in other categories.

Current baby wipes have bonus features such as being hypoallergenic and fragrance-free; containing aloe and vitamin E; and being especially soft on the skin. Appealing to environmentally-conscious buyers, Seventh Generation baby wipes are “free of dyes and fragrances and contain a cleansing agent that is gentle on baby’s tender skin.” These wipes are made with a soft cloth that has not been processed with chemicals containing chlorine.

In recent years, North American baby wipes sales have stagnated, with retail sales today, staying put at around $1 billion. According to Rick Jezzi’s presentation at INDA’s World of Wipes Conference in July, “In response to lagging sales and competition, baby wipes makers…turn to innovation.” In terms of market segmentation within the category, developing new wet solutions and fabrics—there is still plenty of room for innovation.

Family and Household Wipes

INDA statistics estimate that household wipes (for surface cleaning) represent 48% of wipes products in North America, and according to president Rory Holmes, they are increasing their overall share. When you add the general-use skin care and all-purpose family wipes to this number, the share jumps to more 70% (with baby wipes comprising the third major segment).

As new wipes emerge, they are battling new tasks, such as elevator maintenance (top) and industrial kitchen cleaning (bottom). Photos courtesy of ITW Dymon.
Clorox pioneered the disinfectant household wipe in 2000 and today holds about a 50% market share within that category. Clorox disinfecting wipes have continued to evolve. Recent developments include designer containers and a ecofriendly wipes launched under the Green Works line. Competitors include P&G’s Mr. Clean Extra Power Disinfecting Wipes and Reckitt Benckiser Lysol Disinfecting Wipes. S.C. Johnson’s Pledge, Windex, Shout and other brands cover all-purpose categories from furniture and glass cleaning to stain removal.

Also on the ecofriendly front are Method brand wipes, which appeal to buyers who are trendy, often upscale and interested in “green products.” Promotions by Method illustrate brand positioning, as in this Pink Grapefruit wipe advertisement:

“Some days, you just don't have the energy to pull the trigger on a spray bottle. That's when our all surface wipes really come in handy. These sweet-smelling, non-toxic wipes not only conserve energy (yours), they’re made from compostable bamboo fibers that biodegrade safely—helping keep our planet every bit as clean as your kitchen.”

Nice-Pak’s Sani-Cloth Household Surface Wipes are for household use in this category to disinfect multiple surfaces throughout the house. The Sani-Cloth brand has strong
disinfecting credentials coming from its line of healthcare products. Its Nice ‘N Clean brand crosses demographic lines from baby to family and on-the-go users.

In addition to particular demographic groups based on age, there are families and various groups, such as on-the-go people and travelers who eat away from home often. An interesting new product rollout for use in fast food restaurants, food processing plants and anywhere surface cleaning in institutional food preparation occurs is Athea’s new Food Surface Contact Sanitizing Wipe.

“This new sanitizing wipe is an EPA-regulated product,” said Joe Hemmer of Athea, Milwaukee, WI, “and contains no alcohol, an appealing factor that sets it apart from what is presently offered in this category. Additionally, this product is a no-rinse wipe, enabling the user to simply wipe the surface and move on.”

It is available for private label custo­mers in canisters or flat packs.

Personal wipes and skin contact niches continue to grab attention due to new concepts created by product developers who can capitalize on evolving nonwoven fabrics and targeted wet formulations. From cosmetics, OTC treatments, sun and spa care, to general cleansing and toilet wipes—personal care products tend to command a higher price wipe than surface wipes.

Interest in products that are disinfectants and are effective against viruses continues to propel other new wipes developments. Like household segments, there is also increasing recognition of natural and “green” options. Fabrics, fibers and natural additives are consuming major development time. Each constituency has its reason for serious evaluation.

Case in point: Cotton containing wipes are perceived as natural and kind to skin. In addition, “Cotton is more environmentally friendly than some would have you believe,” according to Janet Reed of Cotton Inc. “In terms of land use efficiency, cotton meets 36% of the world’s textile demands on less than 3% of the global area of land devoted to agriculture. Cotton can do this because tremendous productivity gains have been made. Further, only 3% of agriculture’s share of the planet’s water is used in production, and every part of the cotton plant is utilized.”

Another subset of personal care consumers is older populations interested in anti-aging and other wipes products. Baby boomers moving into retirement fall into various categories, from healthy, active lifestylers, to those with medical needs for incontinence and care wipes. In this latter segment, Tena is an established brand leader in Europe, a growing brand in the USA and “now expanding into Central and Latin America, the Far East, India and other developing regions,” according to SCA-TENA. “We are at the forefront of developing products that meet the needs of individuals, clinicians and healthcare services around the world,” said a company spokesman.

Markets For Men & Women

Male-targeted wipes are growing across many categories, from industrial and automotive to facial and personal care. In one example:

“Our demographic is industrial and institutional,” said Chris Plotz of ITW Dymon. “It’s primarily male away-from-the-sink industrial and a mix institutional. Our biggest demographic simply is anyone with hand usage, as our flagship product Scrubs-In-A-Bucket is a premoistened wipe. If you are away from the sink and have dirty hands, such as a lineman, construction worker, field mechanic etc... you know and use our products. Our demographic is interested in very high quality products that do the job in extreme conditions. We formulate and manufacture to professional heavy-duty standards.”

Mr. Plotz joked that their customers are “often times the sausage-finger, hammer-handle, mustache-tuff guys... who, at the end of the day, are hard working Americans.”

As reported by Euromonitor in the June 2009 issue of Nonwovens Industry, Feminine hygiene wipes are predicted to see the highest average annual growth globally to 2013. Boosting growth, brand leaders are promoting feminine hygiene wipes for continuous use, such as this P&G tagline: “Always Feminine Wipes are soft and lightly scented to help you feel fresh and clean all day, every day.”

Along with various wipes cosmetic and skin-care leaders, product developers are aiming for more products that appeal to this key female buying population.

Riding the wave of new wipes are companies who combine their own knowledge base in various markets and apply them to demographic lifestyles. Beyond convenience, the newest wipes are delivering advanced performance features and complementing the cultural vision of today’s consumers.
About the Author
Susan Stansbury writes regularly for HPCW. She can be reached at susan@rightangleconcepts.com
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