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Feminine hygiene market: the year in review: manufacturers make product improvements to fuel growth.


Instead, a manufacturer of over-the-counter women's reproductive health products, chose Austin, TX to launch a $1 million, six-month market test for the Instead Softcup product, an innovative feminine hygiene product. Company officials hope the market test allows them to finetune a strategy that can be rolled out nationwide. Made from a non-absorbent, non-irritating polyethylene plastic that molds to a woman's internal shape, the Instead Softcup holds, rather than absorbs, menstrual flow. The product can be worn safely for up to 12 horus, or up to 12 hours.


In June, Kimberly-Clark, Dallas, TX, announced several unpgrades to its line of Kotex sanitary napkins and panty liners. The announcement included the introduction of three new products--Kotex Bodyfit Ultra Thin pads, Kotex Ultra Thin Long Pads with Wings and Kotex Lightdays PursePaks. The tapered design and adjustable wings in the BodyFit Ultra Thin pad allow women to wear their favorite style of underwear all month long. Meanwhile, the Ultra Thin Long pads with Wings meet consumer demands for ultra-thin pads that are longer and have wings.

In addition to the new products, the entire range of Kotex products has been updated with K-C's proprietary Leak Lock system, featuring technology consisting of new absorbent structures that give pads a dual-layer design. The new products also incorporate this design.

Playtex Products

In May, Playtex Products, Westport, CT, filed a suit accusing rival Procter & Gamble, Cincinnati, OH, of falsely advertising to gain share in the tampon market. Playtex has claimed damages of more than $1 million in a lawsuit filed in the U.S. district Court in Manhattan. Lawyers for Playtex have accused P&G of unfair competition after Playtex's products were wrongly criticized and its customers targeted in P&G's quest to promote its Tampax Pearl tampons, which feature a plastic applicator. The design is similar to a tampon historically produced by Playtex.

Meanwhile, P&G has filed a counterclaim seeking to stop Playtex from advertising that some of its tampons are "so comfortable that you can't even feel them." In court papers, P&G recognized that women were likely to use the same tampon product throughout their lives but believed its new tampon, launched in spring 2002, was different enough to advertise as "a revolutionary new tampon that is extraordinary in every way."

Currently, Playtex controls about 30% of the tampon market, while P&G's Tampax brand, which includes both plastic- and cardboard-applicator style tampons, has an estimated 40% marketshare.

In other news, Playtex announced earlier this year that it is looking at strategic growth options including the possible sale of a part or all of the company. This decision is largely being driven by the desire of Haas Wheat, the investment firm that owns about one-third of the company, to cash out of its investment, according to reports. Other than a potential sale, possibilities for Playtex include merging with another consumer products company to form a larger personal care and household products concern. Possible purchasers of Playtex include competitors Kimberly-Clark, Dallas, TX, and Johnson & Johnson, New Brunswick, NJ. P&G is out of the running because its owns Tampax tampons and would be unable to acquire Playtex due to antitrust laws.

Premier Care Industries, Happauge, NY

In July, Premier Care Industries, a Happauge, NY-based manufacturer of branded and private label feminine hygiene products, has struck a deal to sell branded flushable feminine hygiene products in the U.S. As part of an exclusive distribution agreement with Consolidated Ecoprogress Technology, Vancouver, Canada, Premier Care will distribute a sanitary napkin and panty liner featuring proprietary B-9 technology, which uses an alternative to plastic in the product's outer covering. According to Premier Care executives, this biodegradable film dissolves in water within 30 minutes of submersion but will not break down from menstrual fluid contact.

Premier Care is relying on its experience with national retail chains to place the Flushaway brand in "every outlet that is interested in promoting environmentally friendly products," including health food stores, drug stores and supermarkets, according to national sales manager Louis Schecter. A national brokerage network has been formed and a roll out began in October.

Flushable technology was first introduced to the feminine hygiene market in 2001 when Consolidated Ecoprogess began marketing the Flushaway products throughout Canada. These products also penetrated the U.K. market through an agreement between Consolidated and The Healthy Forum. In the U.K., the napkins are sold in more than 400 retail outlets under the Healthy Matters brand name. The agreement with Premiere Care Industries came several months after Consolidated Ecoprogress kicked off an effort to bring the product to the U.S. market.


In November 2002, Tampon manufacturer Rostam, Tel Aviv, Israel, announced a goal of controlling 5% of the $2.2 billion global market for vaginal infection-preventing. The company hopes to achieve this goal with the success of a new line of tampons, which it began selling in the U.S. during the first quarter of 2003. The company, whose owner is Israeli pharmaceutical conglomerate Pharm Up has manufacturing operations in Israel, Sweden and the U.S., has reportedly invested $5 million in the new line of tampons. "At any one time, 25% of women in the western world suffer from vaginal infections so it's a huge market," said chief executive legal Zamir. "Even if we win only 5% of the market, that's $100 million in sales."

Rostam, which makes tampons for U.S. and European chains, controls 25% of the $88 million private label market and expects sales to increase from $22 million to $25 million next year. Among Rostam's customers for its regular tampons are the U.K.'s largest retailer, Tesco, France's Carrefour and Target in the U.S. Mr. Zamir said the company is considering buying a U.S. company to serve as its third manufacturing site in the region and help it increase its share in the U.S. branded tampon market from 8% to 40%.

SCA European Hygiene

SCA's European Hygiene operations, headquartered in Stockholm, began instituting a number of changes to its operations in July. The division now operates from three units: personal care, AFH tissue and consumer tissue. Incontinence products, baby diapers and feminine hygiene items will constitute the personal care segment. Gunnar Johnson heads consumer products; Rijk Schipper remains head of AFH tissue, and Ole Terland is leading consumer tissue. The changes will take place September 1, and all positions are based in Munich, Germany.

In other news, SCA has acquired a 50% stake in a privately-owned Chilean hygiene products company, Papeles Industriales S.A.. PISA is Chile's second largest producer of tissue and holds a growing position in baby diapers. The purchase is reportedly intended to complement SCA's position in the hygiene market in Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador and other parts of the region. SCA already operates a Chilean joint venture targeting the feminine hygiene market. Terms of the deal were not released.
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Comment:Feminine hygiene market: the year in review: manufacturers make product improvements to fuel growth.
Publication:Nonwovens Industry
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2003
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