The global market for Baby Disposable Diapers is projected to reach US$54.5 billion by 2024, driven by rising birth rates in developing countries, increased emphasis on baby hygiene, increasing number of women in the workforce, rise in household incomes, and product innovations.
Since their emergence in the late 60s and early 70s, disposable baby diapers have become an essential purchase for parents of newborns and toddlers, owing to the huge convenience and better hygiene offered when compared to traditional cloth diapers. The market is replete with several diaper options and individual choices reflect consumer preferences such as softness, absorbency, fragrance, comfort, cost, lesser chemicals or eco-friendliness. However, the most important consideration is its role in keeping the baby comfortable, safe and hygienic. The market is characterized by maturing conditions in developed economies such as the U.S., Europe, and Japan due to declining birth rates. Developing countries are however forecast to witness rapid growth. The market is gaining impetus from novel product variants as well as service offerings, such as weekly or monthly subscription services, in addition to strong retail network, and expanding online channel. The market is replete with several diaper options and individual choices reflect consumer preferences such as softness, absorbency, fragrance, comfort, cost, lesser chemicals or eco-friendliness. A strategic trend witnessed in the diapers category is the growing preference for pull-up style diapers.
The diapers market is home to two of the largest players - Procter & Gamble (P&G) and Kimberly-Clark. Competition is based on parameters such as price, quality, brand recognition, product variety and vertical integration. While brand loyalty is a key influencing factor, price has also come to play a critical role in determining the consumers' purchase decisions about disposable diapers. Companies are focusing on increasing volumes through promotional pricing and enhancing product performance, while simultaneously cutting costs through the supply chain, augmenting productivity and material sourcing. Players operating in the global baby diapers market are focused on cost effective manufacturing strategies, as well as innovations centered around development of environment-friendly and skin-friendly products. In case of premium diapers, globally there is a shift in favor of carded air-through bonded or bicomponent spunbonded with biocomponent fiber, so as to achieve ultra-softness along with functional performance in apertured or lofty topsheets, and in quilted cloth-like backsheet, and high-performance acquisition or distribution layers.
With diaper producers undertaking aggressive campaigns to promote the functional and performance properties of their products, nonwoven suppliers are under immense pressure to provide fabrics that not only feature functional attributes but also have aesthetic attributes, at lower prices. Cushioning and ultra-soft nonwovens are generally preferred for backsheet and topsheet layers, while soft nonwovens with effective fluid barrier properties are needed for leg cuffs.
Asia-Pacific represents the largest and the fastest growing region for baby diapers. The steady rise in birth rate, favorable economic environment, and rapid urbanization trend are aiding market growth. Changing consumer preferences, transforming demographic patterns, and rising disposable incomes are also contributing to sales growth across Asia-Pacific, Middle East, and Latin America. China, in particular, is a high growth market due to the huge population base, improving living standard, and the increasing purchasing power of consumers. The low penetration offers significant potential for the growth of diapers market. Further, the two-child policy implementation in the country is expected to boost the consumption of diapers in the region.
Major players in the market include Kao Corporation, Kimberly-Clark Corporation, Ontex International N.V., The Procter & Gamble Company, Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget SCA (publ), and Unicharm Corporation, among others.