We’ve all seen the uncomfortable advertisements about personal hygiene products. But just because they can be uncomfortable to talk about doesn’t mean that there isn’t a real need for them in the marketplace. And nonwovens fabrics are able to be perfectly manipulated to be the exact right solution for many hygiene products.
The global hygiene market, according to a report by Smithers Apex, is expected to grow to $78.9 billion by 2018. Many hygiene products included in the report are considered not luxury items but personal necessities. For example, the disposable diapers and training pants market represents over 50% of that number in dollars. However, in units sold, diapers account for about 30% of the market. For most people, disposable diapers are the only way to go, saving time for many thousands of parents worldwide. Will they be going away? Not likely. The best avenue for nonwoven manufacturers in the disposable diaper arena is to make the next best thing. Lighter. More absorbent. Easier-to-use. More eco-friendly. The diaper and training pants market is here to stay. Now, we need to focus on product improvement.
Feminine hygiene products are the next biggest piece of the pie, accounting for just over 30% of the global sales and over 60% of global volume. Once again, this market is here to stay. Females are now accustomed to the convenience and ease-of-use of modern feminine products. And, once again, it’s up to the manufacturers to improve the product. Women want greater absorbency. Smaller packaging. Higher performance overall. The market will be improved by innovation in this area.
Adult incontinence products are the most expensive retail product and they probably have the most room for improvement. As the enormous baby boomer population continues to age, this market is certain to grow tremendously. Baby boomers have always been trendsetters and they certainly don’t want the old-fashioned incontinence products but, rather, sleek designs that have the look and feel of traditional underwear. Tomorrow’s incontinence products won’t look like incontinence products. Guaranteed.
So what can we do to improve the hygiene nonwoven applications? How can we make each product better, stronger, lighter, more absorbent? That should be the focus for the coming years. Converters, product engineers and nonwoven manufacturers need to work together to innovate and, quite possibly, even create something entirely different to suit the hygiene market needs.