Get with the Program

January 1, 2015

Store Brands | January 1, 2015 – With sales driven by women in various life stages, feminine care products can be a tricky category. As women age out of the need for some products, a new crop of young women join the category As a result, sales tend to remain flat year to year But new areas of growth are opening up — namely hygiene and adult incontinence products — that could keep consumers in the category longer.

Trends aplenty

According to “Feminine Hygiene and Sanitary Protection Products — US,” a May 2014 report from global market research firm Mintel, sales growth for the overall category will be minimal from 2014 to 2019, reaching $5.6 billion. Quality products that are in tune with changing consumer lifestyles will be crucial to success in this segment.

“Convenience and efficacy are the key trends in this market, which are the key factors driving sales,” says Mem Legros, category business manager, baby and personal care for Daymon Worldwide, Stamford, Conn.

Ana de Oliveira, vice president of sales for Natureplex, Olive Branch, Miss., agrees.

“Women are also busier than ever before, so we’re all looking for convenience,” she explains. “Smaller convenience packaging [and] products that can be carried in the purse for ease of use will become the new trend.”

In fact, convenience and portability are taking center stage in a big way.

“On-the-go products accounted for 11 percent of launches in North America in the year to September 2013,” Legros says, “[which] is far higher than the global average of 4 percent.”

In addition, superior leakage protection and easy disposal are among the top features consumers are looking for, Legros says, particularly in sanitary protection products.

And when it comes to over-the-counter (OTC) treatment options, the feminine hygiene category is providing consumers with affordable and effective alternatives to costly prescriptions.

“Using a common female condition, urinary tract infections,” says Susana Breese, marketing manager, HealthSource Marketing, Buffalo, N.Y., “there are products over the counter for testing (UTI strips), treating symptoms (urinary pain relief formulas), as well as cranberry supplements to help fight UTIs before they even start.”

Natural products and remedies are another trend gaining ground. de Oliveira notes the continued movement toward more natural tampons and menstrual pads, as well as the introduction of probiotics and prebiotics in some feminine treatment products.

Store brands playing catch-up

In the feminine care category, store brands have typically been a step behind in terms of innovations.

“If a brand is a top seller,” Breese says, “it makes sense to offer a private label version at a less-expensive price.”

When developing those new products, however, retailers need to make sure they are giving enough attention to advanced sanitary napkins, Legros says.

“About 54 percent of new product launches in 2013 were pads,” she notes. “Sanitary napkins have experienced the most growth versus a year ago, up 1.2 percent in dollar sales.”

Sanitary napkins have expanded usage as well, especially among older women who prefer to use them instead of products designed specifically for light bladder leakage, Mintel states.

While product innovation is pivotal for private label feminine hygiene, packaging and marketing are just as important, Legros says.

“Retailers should also focus on developing and implementing a robust marketing program,” she adds, “by leveraging consumer insights and market dynamics to help entice consumers and drive private brand sales.”

And as consumers become more educated about private label brands, they are apt to purchase other store brand products, Breese states.

“This is where retailers are getting bold,” she explains, “and have started giving less shelf space to brands and more shelf space to their own products.”

Packaging that also is bold and stands out on the shelf will get shoppers’ attention.

“It helps to call out exactly what the product is and what the benefits are,” de Oliveira adds. “Being illusive isn’t helpful; let the consumer know what they [are] buying just like every other product.”

Do give enough attention to sanitary napkins, which are in growth mode.

Don’t ignore the trend toward convenience and portability.

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