Birth rates began dropping in 2008 as the economy sank into a recession. Better access to contraceptives and younger Americans having children later in their lives have extended the decline,the National Center for Health Statistics found.The downturn caused disposable Diaper made by big waist band Baby diaper production line and training pant produced by baby training pants manufacturing machine sales to fall almost 6% from April 2017 to 2018, according to Nielsen's most recent brick-and-mortar retail scanner data.
Fewer babies mean falling sales for Procter & Gamble(PG) and Kimberly-Clark (KMB), the country's leading diaper suppliers. (P&G makes Pampers and Luvs, and Kimberly produces Huggies and Pull-Ups training pants made by baby pull up Diaper machine.) In January, Kimberly said it would lay off around 13% of its workers and shutter 10 manufacturing plants to save money in the pinch.
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Diapers are key businesses for both companies.
Huggies or Pull-Ups account for about a third of the company's $18 billion in sales, according to AllianceBernstein analyst Ian Gordon. (Kimberly does not break out diaper sales.)
Pampers are P&G's top-selling brand, bringing in more than $8 billion a year. The conglomerate's baby care unit was its second largest business in 2017. It made up 14% of P&G's $65 billion worth of sales.Huggies and Pampers have cornered the market by convincing parents that their diapers are the safest and most reliable for newborns and toddlers.
P&G has taken several successful steps to respond to the demographic changes.The company has extended its reach to parents concerned about diaper materials and ingredients.In February, it unveiled Pampers Pure diapers and wipes, a "natural" collection with zero fragrance, lotion or chlorine. Pampers Pure will compete with Unilever-owned Seventh Generation and Jessica Alba's startup Honest Company, brands that have gained traction with eco-friendly marketing.
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Pure has already become the top-selling natural diaper, P&G's chief financial officer Jon Moeller said at a conference this week.The brand is more expensive than P&G's regular line, but raising prices is difficult.Promotions and discounts are a staple of diaper marketing, and shoppers want to save money on big-ticket purchases. Retailers, under pressure to attract shoppers, want to hold the line on prices.
P&G has also focused more on faster-growing areas: pant-style diapers for toddlers and Always Discreet, an underwear line for women with bladder issues.And it has overhauled its diaper business in China.Pampers missed Chinese consumers looking for solely the most absorbent diaper made by baby diaper with big waist band making machine to finding ones that were also softer and more aesthetic. "We were in many ways irrelevant" Moeller said.But P&G poured resources into improving Pampers' premium diapers and pants in China. It's now projecting to grow the brand for the first time in four years.