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Innovation shines in adult incontinence: everyone from small start-ups to consumer giants are trying to solve the needs of incontinence sufferers.

The adult incontinence market is hot. As the population ages, manufacturers are helping consumers find new ways or managing the many types of incontinence that can stem from childbirth, pregnancy, obesity, cancer treatment and general aging. This has led to a spate of new product choices on the marketplace that are helping feed the consumers' need to maintain an active lifestyle, despite bladder and bowel concerns.

While Procter & Gamble's return to the market after a two-decade hiatus is probably the biggest news story of recent months, the sheer amount of new products and players entering this market is a story in its own right. The attention adult incontinence is receiving shows just how important this market is becoming in the consumer goods category.

According to reports, the market is currently valued at $7 billion globally with growth projected between 7-9%, depending on the region, for the next couple of years. This is significantly higher than the baby diaper market, which is growing about 3-5% and is plagued by slow birth rates and high penetration levels in many countries.

Back to adult incontinence, women currently comprise about 86% of the market, but men are rapidly becoming a more important demographic. Kimberly-Clark, the company that some credit with the creation of the consumer adult incontinence market with its Depend and Poise brands, last year developed guards and shields to help the estimated 23 million male sufferers of light bladder leakage deal with the condition. Both are made to fit a man's body and can be worn securely in man's own underwear.

At the time of the launch, K-C said that men with light bladder leakage had been ignored by the industry and many have had to use products designed for women. This product speaks to the needs of these sufferers.

Likewise, Procter & Gamble has created a line of light incontinence products, hoping to attract women who use feminine hygiene pads to mask their conditions.

Always a Pleasure

By trading on the value of its Always brand, which has been around for 30 years, P&G hopes that the many women who use its Always feminine hygiene pads for incontinence concerns will start using its recently launched Always Discreet line of products for light incontinence. According to sources familiar with incontinence trends, about 40% of current Always feminine hygiene customers use the products to handle incontinence problems.

P&G launched this line in August, ending months of industry speculation that it would enter the market. The 26-SKU line consists of liners, pads and underwear designed to offer comfort, protection and discretion in a feminine design that absorbs leaks and odors quickly.

In January, P&G CFO Jon Moeller reported to investors that the line is making inroads in the disposable incontinence products category and is beating targets with a 7% value share in the U.K. and U.S., the two countries where it was first launched. This month, P&G will introduce the product into Germany, Switzerland and Austria.

According to P&G, Always Discreet pads are up to 40% thinner than the leading brand and absorb twice as much fluid as women may need, based on the average consumer usage of incontinence products. The curve-hugging, disposable Always Discreet underwear is designed to be easy to wear and discreet, with the extra protection of Dual LeakGuard barriers to help stop leaks where they are most likely to occur.

"Always Discreet products have undergone extensive consumer testing and are specifically designed to provide the things that matter most to women with sensitive bladders, including odor neutralization protection and discretion," says Chandrika Kasturi, Always Discreet product research director." Our advanced Odor-Lock technology traps odors instantly and for hours and our innovative Advanced Core Technology absorbs fluids to the core and locks it away, offering incredible dryness protection."

P&G began test marketing Always Discreet liners in the U.K. in spring 2014 and the hygiene industry had been speculating that a North American launch was imminent. The company exited the adult incontinence market, which it helped create in the 1970s, in 1999 when it sold its Attends brand to PaperPak Industries. But, the company could not ignore the appeal of the growing adult incontinence market much longer. During the last 15 years--roughly the same time P&G has been absent from the market--North American adult incontinence sales have tripled to reach $1.5 billion, according to experts. Global sales, now at $7 billion, are growing about 8.4% annually, faster than any other paper-based household product.

According to reports, retails sales of Always Discreet nearly overtook the entire Tena Brand with sales of $85 million compared to $8.6 million for Tena. Tena's sales declined 16.2% in dollar terms during the period. Meanwhile, Kimberly-Clark's Depend and Poise brands are holding their own, up 6.1% in the past 52-week period.

Butterfly Body Liners combat ABL

Targeting the 90% of bowel leakage sufferers who need only a light absorbent product, Butterfly Health has already achieved national distribution at places like Walmart and Target and is now becoming available in its first major drug retailer, CVS.

While this level of distribution is impressive for such a small company, CEO and founder Kelly Brezoczky says her company needs to be doing more to activate the Tittle bowel leaks' segment at retail.

"Across the board, the thing we did not well enough in 2014 was help the consumer understand there was something new on the shelf for light accidental bladder leakage," she explains. "If you came to the shelf, Butterfly was simply there alongside other pads and liners. Even though Butterfly stood out with its yellow packaging, you would not know it was for little bowel leaks. You would have thought it was just another product for bladder leakage."

The first product designed to specifically target accidental bowel leakage (ABL), Butterfly Body Liners fit securely in between the buttocks with a gentle dermal adhesive and a unique design.

Brezoczky, a former Procter & Gamble executive, created the product after seeing a need for better ABL aids in the marketplace. The product has a greater than 90% approval rate from users, who have been desperate to find such a product to manage their problem. However, 25% of the company's 1-800 calls are from consumers who can't find the product among the many other pads and liners designed for bladder leakage on store shelves.

Brezoczky, who also describes herself as an ABL advocate, hopes to boost awareness of the product as well as the condition with what she calls some "really eye-catching merchandising displays" which will soon be in the aisles at Walmart stores. The shelf displays will be encased in a yellow, butterfly-shaped display, to better attract the attention of consumers. "We really hope this helps transform the urinary incontinence aisle into a more personal care-oriented space."

In fact, Brezoczky says that Walmart's support, which also includes a Butterfly microsite on its online portal, has been instrumental to not only the company's success but also to helping increase awareness of ABL. "This shows Walmart's true commitment to innovation, "she says." So far, Walmart is doing more to help people learn about ABL than Web MD. This doesn't just show support for Butterfly, it shows we have a shared vision about helping people live better with a condition like ABL that nobody talks about."

As it works to better communicate its message to consumers, Butterfly has also been expanding its product offering. This spring, the company is rolling out a men's product. Originally, a men's launch was planned for later this year but overwhelming demand hastened the introduction. Brezoczky said they knew within three months that a men's product was going to be needed sooner. "When we were first developing Butterfly, we understood the unmet need for little bowel leaks solutions was equal among women and men but as a small company, we knew we had to start somewhere," she explains. "So we chose to focus on women. That was where we started."

Working on Butterfly, Brezoczky continues, has been the most rewarding part of her career, thanks to the calls and letters she has received from people whose lives have been changed by the product. "Our product is simple. Over thirty million people experience bowel leakage and of these 90% experience little leaks," she says. "They don't need a full diaper or brief product to manage this. Our new Butterfly 'body liners' works well enough."

Rip n Go: For Nighttime Problems

Rip n Go is a 100% waterproof, detachable and reusable padded sheet created by Louise Miner. A mother of two, Miner first thought of the idea for a detachable and reusable pad when she had her second child, 13 years after her first, and the product later evolved into something for adult incontinence sufferers.

One night, Miner's husband got up in the middle of the night to change their baby's crib sheet, but since he was tired, he laid a towel over the diaper leak and put the baby back to sleep. When Miner woke up, she was concerned with the safety hazard of the towel in the crib, so she sought an easier solution than changing the crib sheet, which could take up to 20 minutes with the way drop cribs are designed, according to the company.

When she couldn't find an available solution, she came up with her own. Miner had experience working with textiles, as she owned a custom draperies company, so she created a fitted sheet with an opening at the top that was lined with Velcro, as well as a padded sheet with Velcro for quick changes.

"Crib changes went from 20 minutes to two minutes," says Tarique Khan, business development manager at Rip n Go. "When Louise's girlfriends saw the solution she came up with they wanted one too. So she made them a few."

After coming up with her design and receiving feedback from her friends, Miner consulted a lawyer and realized the product could be patented. Five patents are currently approved or in process.

While the company's baby and junior product debuted one and a half years ago, the adult incontinence Rip n Go has been around for about a year.

Rip n Go features three layers: a breathable poly-cotton blend that is soft to sleep on and lets liquids through; a nonwoven layer that absorbs and holds liquid; and a bottom layer made of a sophisticated polyester material that is waterproof to the protect mattress.

"Nonwovens technology was chosen because we needed a product that was built to last years and be soft at the same time. It had to return to its original shape after multiple washes in order to fit the fitted sheet. If it shrank, then it wouldn't align with bottom sheet," Khan explains.

The company has two products tailored to adult incontinence sufferers: Complete Care and Superior Care. Complete Care includes two detachable waterproof pads, one fitted sheet, one matching top sheet, and two matching pillowcases, and Superior Care includes two detachable pads, one fitted sheet, one detachable sheet, one top sheet and two pillowcases.

Khan says Rip n Go Superior Care is the company's best seller since its meant for those with limited mobility and incontinence, while Complete Care is for incontinence only.

Rip n Go is available in three sizes and colors including green, yellow and beige. "Feedback we repeatedly get from users is that it doesn't look like an incontinence product," Khan comments. "Our product was made to look good in someone's home. If you see other products on the market, they look very medical and have been taken from a hospital setting and sold to the consumer without making any changes. People try to hide the fact they are incontinent since it is a taboo; our product helps them do that."

According to the company, the reusable pad will last two to three years with multiple washes and uses.

SOSecure For Fun in the Sun

While many companies that cater to adult incontinence issues create absorbent products that can be worn as undergarments or placed on a chair or bed, Discovery Trekking Outfitters created an incontinence containment product for the pool and aquatics.

Discovery Trekking Outfitters, an outwear company based in British Columbia, first conceived the idea for its SOSecure Incontinence swim brief years ago, and the latest version of the garment debuted in 2010. "My former business partner had a son who was disabled and required a swim brief, and she had literally tried everything on the market, and they went from being pathetic to just not effective," says Leslie Hanes, owner and founder of Discovery Trekking Outfitters Ltd. "One of the problems is not only the containment but the dignity of the person, so that was huge. What we found was it was very apparent if somebody was wearing one in a pool."

Hanes says the first creation her former partner designed wasn't very high-tech. She started with a fabric that didn't stretch and lined it with another fabric. The garment opened fully and was adjustable, she adds, and though it was better than anything else they saw, it still wasn't as good as they needed it to be.

"She put it together herself and we only sold them to local people here that wanted them," says Hanes.

Since Hanes has access to a lot of technical fabrics in her other business and experiments with them frequently, she decided to play around with some of the stretchable fabrics that featured waterproofness. After experimenting with these fabrics, she realized that it made an enormous difference in the fit since it stretched four ways.

"One of the problems that we saw with other products on the market is that they weren't stretchy, that they were using pretty much only elastic to contain," Hanes explains. "Most of them weren't adjustable, most were a pull-on, and they simply don't fit people of all sizes, which creates a lot of leaking."

Hanes eventually had a fabric made just for the swim brief--a knit stretch bonded to a stretch polyurethane, to give it the waterproofness. Because it's combined with elastic in the waist and legs and that it opens and closes with hook and loop, she says it can be adjusted to any body shape. "For example if somebody has skinny legs and a big tummy, you just close it on an angle and you still get a really secure fit," Hanes says.

The SOSecure swim brief was initially created for bowel containment, and Hanes says that being able to contain is important since people with special needs are being integrated into schools and in pool and aquatic therapy. "The pools insist on protection, and if in fact there's an accident, they will often charge the parents for refilling the pool, so it's a big deal," she explains.

Though, since millions of people are urinary incontinent, Hanes says many buy the briefs so that urine doesn't run down their leg, even though they don't technically absorb. "We recommend people test it at home if they're going to use it for that purpose," she says.

The SOSecure swim brief comes in a variety of sizes for adults, youth and children, and includes plus sizes.

Wearever Incontinence

Based in Durham, NC, Prime Life Fibers, the parent company of Wearever Incontinence products, was founded in 2002 by Bob Deerin. The company offers incontinence underwear for women and men, as well as diabetic socks and bed pads. Deerin came up with the idea to create reusable incontinence underwear in the 1990s, and brought on a partner with a scientific background to create cloth inserts, which featured an ionic silver compound to controls odors.

According to the company, Deerin first considered creating the underwear for children with spina bifida and other congenital conditions that inhibit muscle control. But, because these conditions can cause muscles in a thigh or buttock to shrink, they say standard sizes aren't practical as urine could leak. Since medicine is progressing more against these types of ailments, Deerin decided to sell his product towards the aging population.

Today, the company offers a variety of washable styles of incontinence panties for women and briefs for men, which have the look and feel of regular underwear, according to the company. Wearever's most recent style came out in 2013--Maximum Absorbency Incontinence Panties and Maximum Absorbency Incontinence Boxers and Briefs--which can hold up to 20 oz. of liquid.

Wearever panties and briefs feature an absorbent pad built right into the underwear using the company's Unique-Dri technology. The technology is comprised of three layers: the top layer allows liquid in; the middle layer transfers liquid toward edges to avoid pooling. This resists bacteria growth and odor; and the bottom layer made of urethane prevents leakage and contains moisture within the underwear.

The company says it initially worked with Foss as its needle-punch supplier, but has since worked with other nonwovens suppliers including Nonwovens Solutions in Illinois. The company now works with Foss in another capacity, using its Foss shield antimicrobial fiber, which is blended into the fabric. Wearever undergarments are laminated in Tennessee or in Honduras, and the company also manufactures products in China, working with nonwovens companies.

According to Prime Life Fibers, all Wearever undergarment styles will last for approximately 250 uses and washes.

Detecting a Problem

In 2003, a Knoxville, TN-based pediatric urologist who specialized in children's potty training, childhood bladder problems, bedwetting, constipation and encopresis founded PottyMD, creating a number of products to cope with these issues. Today, the company has evolved by debuting the Wet-Detective for those who suffer from adult incontinence.

The Wet-Detective can be used for children or adults, and features an alarm and patented bed pad system.

"We realized that a lot of kids cannot wear a wearable alarm, so we decided to design a multi-functional padded alarm," says Carey Ownby, director of operations. "In doing this we realized that this probably has more benefit with adults and not just kids with incontinence."

The pad, which includes a nonwoven layer, can be placed on a bed or chair, and once the pad is wet, a silent light, soft beep or alarm notifies caregivers. "The Wet-Detective allows a person with incontinence problems to wear their normal clothes and avoid diapers," Ownby adds. "The Wet-Detective also helps care providers know when care is needed, improving improved sanitary conditions for those suffering from incontinence, preventing disease and other health-related problems that can be caused by lying or sitting on a wet pad for extended periods of time."

The pad can last for several months with daily washing. The company also offers a line of waterproof mattress pads and mattress covers to cope with incontinence issues.
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Author:McIntyre, Karen; Olivo, Tara
Publication:Nonwovens Industry
Date:Mar 1, 2015
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