Tissue and hygiene – overview of April and May’s new product launches

This bi-monthly summary highlights some of the most interesting new product launches in tissue and hygiene, with a focus on the direction the industry is taking in terms of innovation and developments.

Diaper manufacturers focus on style for summer

Following a difficult year for tissue and hygiene manufacturers, during which price and discounting dominated the strategy of major players looking to stem losses to private label products in a difficult economic climate, there are signs that the tide is beginning to turn and innovation is returning to the fore.

Of all tissue and hygiene categories, nappies/diapers/pants retains the most potential for driving value sales as parents are likely to prioritise the needs of their child above all else and are often prepared to pay a little more for baby products that catch their eye. As a result, this is the first category since the credit crunch in which manufacturers are utilising purely aesthetic rather than performance-related features to add value.

Dashing in denim

In late May, Kimberly-Clark announced the US launch of its latest extension to the market leading Huggies brand. The limited edition Huggies Little Movers Jeans Diapers have a denim-look design and will be available during June and July.

The diaper is the first of its kind in the US, although the product has previously been available in countries including South Korea, Singapore and Russia. The manufacturer hopes the new diapers will become a must-have item for fashion-conscious mums and increase brand loyalty.

Marketing support for the US launch will include fashion shows, cross-promotions and media campaigns. Huggies Jeans Diapers will be available in three sizes, at a suggested retail price of US$9.59 for a jumbo pack and US$19.99 for the larger pack.

Kitted out for the World Cup

SCA has also launched a new limited edition diaper, marketed around the football World Cup. Libero’s Up & Go pants brand is already aimed at active babies who can walk and run, and the limited edition release takes the active link one step further, adding a football club crest logo onto the diaper.

The Libero Football Spring Collection 2010 is available for a limited period of time throughout the football World Cup in the Nordic countries as well as Hungary and Greece.

Huggies gets a new look

Kimberly-Clark has also invested in its Huggies brand in Western Europe, with a £1.5 million re-launch of its Huggies Pull-Ups brand. This follows on from the announcement of a packaging redesign across the entire Huggies range, including Pull-Ups, which will be rolled out throughout 2010. The re-launch of Huggies Pull-Ups, the potty training pants targeting children between 18 and 36 months, will focus on ‘learning through play’ and will be supported by a new website aiming to help make potty training fun.

Performance related to profits

While diaper manufacturers are the first since the credit crunch aiming to add value through purely stylistic features, across tissue and hygiene manufacturers are upping their products’ performance credentials in a bid to drive value sales as consumer spending power slowly returns.

Pampers premium release

In the UK and Europe, Procter & Gamble has incorporated its latest Dry Max technology into its Pampers New Baby and Active Fit ranges, with the new products hitting the shelves in May. The company claims the nappies incorporating the new technology, billed as the most advanced to date, are the driest nappies ever as well as being less bulky than any previous Pampers variant.

Products will also have new packaging and the support of a marketing campaign. Pampers incorporating Dry Max technology were launched in the US in January and have attracted criticism from a small but active group of parents claiming the diapers have caused rashes on their children, and bringing a PR crisis for the manufacturer. Without doubt, Procter & Gamble will be hoping these claims do not filter across the Atlantic and taint the product’s European launch.

Tena thinks thin

SCA has announced the launch of the new Tena Men Level 1. The product, which is aimed at male users with light incontinence problems, is smaller and thinner than existing products and therefore more discreet.

This latest addition to Western Europe’s market leading Tena line, which has been launched across Europe, also has improved elastic and a cup-shaped design, specifically designed for men. In addition to the improved performance of the product, packaging has also been enhanced, with new graphics and the word ‘Men’ being brought to the fore to enable consumers to make a quick but informed choice.

Velvet goes soft in a bid to take on tissues

Toilet paper brand Velvet has made its first foray into facial tissues in the UK, launching a tissue billed as “soft, soft, soft”. Hoping to take share from rival manufacturers, in particular Kimberly-Clark’s Kleenex, through enhanced performance, SCA says the Velvet Tissue has been developed to deliver a “depth of softness, superior strength and absorbency” than existing brands in the facial tissues category.

Velvet facial tissues will be available in all the major supermarkets in Compact, Classic and Large variants. The launch will be supported by television advertising, a PR campaign, plus in-store and promotional activity.

Thinking outside the box

While any tissue or hygiene product must cut the mustard in terms of performance to make the grade with consumers, packaging innovations that up the convenience factor can also be a key draw.

Branded product manufacturers are locked in intense competition with private label manufacturers across the tissue and hygiene categories and with many private label products now rivalling branded products in terms of performance, especially in the commoditised tissue categories, innovations in packaging not only offer an opportunity to drive value sales but are also another way of ensuring branded products have one up against private label rivals.

Kleenex takes the Tube

Kimberly-Clark has launched the Kleenex Tube in Australia, a packaging innovation that the manufacturer claims is a first in the country. Designed specifically to fit in car cup-holders and as an alternative to standard boxed tissues, the new cylindrical Kleenex packaging, which is non-crushable and comes in four bright designs, means drivers can have their tissues close at hand while driving.

Adding flair to feminine hygiene

In France, SCA’s sanitary protection brand Nana is also focusing on packaging rather than the product. Nana has expanded its fashion tin collection, which was already available for tampons, into containers for towels and pantyliners.

The tampon tins have already become popular with French women because they provide added discretion and hygiene when the products are carried in handbags, prompting the expansion of the range. The Nana tins collection for 2010 comprises 10 designs, five of which are for use with towels and pantyliners.

Recent developments in North America

While private label products have a strong presence in developed tissue and hygiene markets around the world, their presence in the US still lags behind that of Western Europe. In the UK, for example, private label products account for a 36% market share, in Germany 56%, compared to a share of 19% in the US. Perhaps recognising that there is potential to gain share from branded products in the American market, of late the US has seen an upturn in private label launches.

Fisher-Price toys with diapers

Toy manufacturer Fisher-Price, already well known to parents, has expanded into hygiene with the launch of a new diaper range.

To manufacture the products the toy maker has teamed up with AHP, the nation’s largest maker of private label diapers. However, Fisher-Price says the Happy Days & Nights products are positioned between private label and branded products. While pricing is lower than that of rival branded products, the premium claim is supported by two features that the manufacturer says are industry firsts ¬– a colour-coded fit panel that tells parents if the product is the right size for their baby (green for right, red for too tight and yellow for too big) and the inclusion of both day and night products in one pack.

Retailer rolls out green tissues

New York’s largest chemist chain Duane Reade has included toilet roll and boxed facial tissues in the recent expansion of its private label Apt 5 range. Both products are marketed as “75% tree free”, made instead of sugar cane by-products. By expanding its range, the company is aiming to further tap into the environmentally-friendly trend that is rapidly gaining strength in tissue and hygiene in the US as well as on a global scale.