Magazine article Marketing

Consumer Shift Hits Tampon Sales

Magazine article Marketing

Consumer Shift Hits Tampon Sales

Article excerpt

Improved technology and Female health concerns have made an impact on sanpro sales. Consumer preference indicates a shift toward towel products.

One of the more curious consumer trends to have emerged from our Biggest Brands survey (See page 20 for the second instalment) is the rise of the towel sector of the sanitary protection market at the expense of tampons, once thought to be the greatest innovation in the market.

The ACNielsen figures show that Tampax, which has been the largest sanpro brand, has now been overtaken by Always, a towel. While Tampax only attracted 2.2% extra sales over the past year, the value of the Always brand shot up by 13.2%.

Both are owned by Procter & Gamble, so any effect on sales is cancelled out on its balance sheet, but the switch throws up some interesting changes in consumer demand.

A close look at ACNielsen's data reflects the rise of towels versus tampons. Unit sales of tampons actually fell over the period April 1997 to April 1998 by 2.1%. The sector fared a little better in value terms, up 1.7% to [pounds]143.6, but still lags well behind towels, up 4.1% to [pounds]199.5%.

There are various reasons for this shift, but the principal one is technology driven. As manufacturers find ways to make sanitary towels thinner, but still as effective, the products become more appealing to women put off by the thought of wearing bricks of cotton wool.

Younger women, who used to be the major market for tampons, are now more likely to continue using the towels that their mothers give them. The pattern used to be that they would start with towels then move on to tampons once they have their own money, and are influenced by what friends buy.

Women are also more likely to "mix and match" various types of sanitary protection, according to Kristina Nordsten, senior brand manager on Bodyform at SCA Hygiene Products. "There is less solus use now; women tend to pick and mix between towels and tampons depending on what they are doing."

Health concerns

There is also evidence that tampons have suffered from the growing preoccupation with related health issues, most notably toxic shock syndrome, a disease which can affect women who keep a tampon in for too long. It is thought that women are also becoming increasingly concerned about the general health issues of internal sanitary protection.

The other major boost to the towels sector has come from American-sounding 'panty liner' products, which women are choosing to wear between periods, As this effectively quadruples the potential sales for the products, it is not surprising that this sector of the market has seen a 10% increase over the past year. …

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