Growing Pains

By Karen McIntyre, Nonwovens Industry, Editor | April 14, 2010

Ten years ago, the wipes market began a period of remarkable growth in terms of both size and diversity. Consumer product companies began launching products throughout a number of segments ranging from personal care to household care to pet care to auto care. And, many of these products were met with great success by consumers who craved the convenience, portability and ease of use that wipes could offer.

The result is a $9 billion global market that continues to grow today, albeit far less rapidly than it did earlier this decade. The reasons for this slowdown are many. Not only has the rate of new product introductions slowed significantly—the market has not seen a real blockbuster product (think Swiffer) in a couple of years—but the economic slowdown has made consumers more cost conscious, in some cases choosing less expensive options over wipes. But, does this have to mean that the golden age of wipes is over? Not if you listen to many wipes executives who still predict new products and markets for wipes that consumers will consider as necessary to their daily lives as they now think of Swiffer cloths or disinfectant wipes.

And, even if a new blockbuster product doesn’t appear, the wipes market continues to hold a ton of potential in developing markets like Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Middle East and Africa, which account for only 10% of wipes sales combined. Furthermore, these regions are predicted to grow in the mid to high double digits for the next couple of years, better than the 2% predicted for the category as a whole.

That said, the wipes market will surely continue to thrive in the years going forward, driving up sales for manufacturers, and making everyday tasks easier for consumers around the globe.

Karen McIntyre
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