The economic fallout of COVID-19 might impact household ability to spend on higher priced products like wipes, due to depressed incomes. Euromonitor International Industry Forecast Model and its recently updated COVID-19 Pessimistic 1 scenario (assuming global GDP ranging from -7.5% to -5.5%) estimates a potential drop in value growth for global wipes in 2020 and 2021 (see chart 2). Less financially secure emerging and developing markets are expected to be affected more than the developed regions. The model projects the impact of the scenario to wear off by 2023.
Concerns over virus containment and potential interruption to the supply chain led households to stockpile staples and disinfecting supplies, resulting in spikes in sales and product shortages in the first quarter of 2020. However, high demand continues well past Q1 of 2020, as protracted home seclusion and heightened hygiene routines fuel the demand beyond just panic buying.
While a number of concerns have been raised with respect to effectiveness of wipes in combatting COVID-19, some of the brands have made it onto the list compiled by, for instance, The American Chemistry Council’s Center for Biocide Chemistries. The list includes products pre-approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for use against emerging viral pathogens and can be used during the COVID-19 outbreak. While products listed tend to come from the professional space, some of the consumer products are featured too, such as Clorox Disinfecting Wipes—one of the leading consumer disinfecting wipes in the US, still often out of stock.
As high demand led to persistent SKU shortages for the leading brands, many markets see the insurgence of smaller brands that fill the void on store shelves. Examples include Bye Bye Germs All Purpose Sanitizing Wipes by Double Dare Spa, which took up a far more prominent place at some of the leading retailers in the U.S., such as Walgreens. New products are also scheduled to enter the market, such as Cleanitize by Albaad, to capture opportunities created by high demand.
The COVID-19 pandemic is accelerating wellness-related trends, with the basic principles of health and keeping diseases at bay as a core priority. Wellness redefined touches upon preventative health, the concepts of a resilient body and mind and an antidote to times of uncertainty. These trends also bring with them further scrutiny over ingredients and supply chain, transparency and assurance of safety. Demand for authenticity and provenance is set to intensify, so is the need for real expertise and science-backed results and efficacy.
Additionally, the shift in consumption to prioritize necessities over non-essentials by many households would mean wider considerations of price sensitivity, accessibility, environment, social responsibility and inclusivity as vital in hygiene and wellness proposition.
All in all, with the COVID-driven consumer shifts and approaches to hygiene and wellness, 2020 is a time to assess longer term innovation opportunities, beyond immediate needs and responses to supply chain challenges. Global untapped potential for disposable wipes is estimated to be over $12 billion in incremental sales, opening up possibilities to tap into the future demand with the right products that speak to consumer wellness management.