Short-Lived Spike in Personal Hygiene Demand at Pandemic’s Onset Unable to Boost Market in 2020

Short-Lived Spike in Personal Hygiene Demand at Pandemic’s Onset Unable to Boost Market in 2020

As the COVID-19 pandemic took hold of the US in early 2020, consumers stockpiled essential items, including personal hygiene nonwoven-based products, such as cleaning wipes and PPE like facial masks. At the pandemic’s onset, these products quickly disappeared from retail store shelves and, subsequently, increased the demand for additional nonwoven materials to help end-product manufacturers refill depleted inventories.

However, the flurry of panic buying turned out to be short-lived, and supply and demand in the personal hygiene nonwovens industry returned to more normal patterns as the pandemic wore on. For instance:

  • Some consumers who searched for alternative solutions (e.g., cloth diapers and reusable feminine hygiene products, improvised disposable versions) during the initial supply problem may not have returned to the market, especially if they were looking to limit shopping trips.
  • Many consumers who wiped down groceries, to-go containers, and other items procured outside the home with cleaning wipes earlier on in the pandemic gradually stopped as more study revealed the risk of contracting COVID-19 in this way is extremely low.
  • Additionally, consumers who had stockpiled more product than they typically would buy in a normal store visit were able to slowly use up their surplus.

As a result, the market for personal hygiene nonwovens performed only modestly in 2020. Looking forward to 2021 and beyond, demand is expected to return to pre-pandemic demand patterns, as these products are considered necessities for most people.

Personal Hygiene Nonwoven Sales to Approach $900 Million in 2024

A new Freedonia Group analysis projects demand for personal hygiene nonwovens to grow 1.4% per year through 2024, slowed by continued weakness in baby diapers. Gains will come almost entirely from increasing sales of adult incontinence products, supported by the US’ rapidly growing senior population.

Opportunities in the personal hygiene market will come from continuing product development aimed at increasing the adoption of these products and boosting market value. Areas of improvement include:

  • performance, particularly in comfort or absorbability
  • sustainability, such as offerings with recyclable or plant-based and biodegradable fibers
  • aesthetics such as more discrete and underwear-like adult incontinence products

Senior-Friendly Products Expected to See Strong Growth Along with Target Demographic

Demand for nonwovens used in adult incontinence products will see strong growth, spurred by gains in the 65+ age bracket. Consumers in this age range are more likely than average to have limited mobility, difficulty using a restroom, or other reasons to utilize adult incontinence products on a regular or semi-regular basis. As the large baby boomer generation, aged between 55 and 75 years old as of 2021, continues to age, momentum in this sector will grow.

Slow Growth in Infant/Toddler Population Will Restrain Advances

Through 2024, gains in the personal hygiene market will be restrained by a falling birth rate and related slow growth (less than 1%) in demand for infant diapers and training pants – which accounted for nearly three-quarters of personal hygiene nonwovens demand in 2019.

Nevertheless, this will mark an improvement from the 2014-2019 period, when a contraction in the infant/toddler population corresponded with stagnancy in this key segment. Toddlers in particular will show population gains on average with overall population growth through 2024, supporting the sale of training pants, which are larger and have more nonwoven material.

Additionally, the market will benefit as nonwovens producers develop value-added products, enhancing such qualities as softness, absorbency, and sustainability.

Sustainability & Performance Remain Key Drivers to Value Growth

Nonwovens suppliers continue to develop new products that offer the unique set of features and characteristics desired by both personal hygiene product manufacturers and consumers, particularly those that:

  • are softer and lighter weight, which increases their ability to be used in close contact with skin of longer periods of time
  • additional absorbability
  • improvements in breathability and leak protection

Furthermore, hygiene products increasingly feature sustainable nonwoven materials, such as those made with plant-based fibers, which some consumers prefer in products that are in prolonged and close contact with their bodies.

Want to Learn More?

Personal Hygiene Nonwovens is now available from the Freedonia Group.

About the Author:

Peter Kusnic is a Content Writer with The Freedonia Group, where he researches and writes studies focused on an array of industries.

  Consumer Goods      Industry Studies      Textiles & Nonwovens