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Adult Incontinence sees growth in North America with e-commerce and demographic trends

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Favourable demographic trends driving growth

The ageing population in North America has been a significant driver of growth in the region. As the 65+ age segment is expected to grow over the next several years at a faster rate than the general population, the outlook for the adult incontinence market is positive.

Rise of e-commerce

Internet retailing was the fastest growing channel for sales of adult incontinence in North America over 2012-2017. As a higher share of sales in adult incontinence migrate to online channels, there is a chance that this could negatively impact value sales, as online shopping allows easier price comparison, and many online purchases are made via wholesalers offering lowpriced options to purchase in bulk.

High growth rates continue due to ageing population and normalisation

While much of the growth in demand for adult incontinence products is driven by the ageing population, several other factors have also aided growth. 2015 saw the largest increase in sales growth, after P&G reentered the market in 2014 with its Always brand. Recent years have also seen more targeted messaging towards younger consumers. Manufacturers have increased investment in product development, marketing, and advertising geared towards younger audiences, realising the unmet potential in this segment. This has helped eliminate the perception that incontinence products are only for the elderly, and will help drive further growth.

Moderate/heavy adult incontinence dominates in market size

Sales of moderate/heavy adult incontinence accounted for 58% of total category sales in the US in 2017, and 62% in Canada. Though this is a larger segment of the market, it continues to grow.  Light incontinence products make up a smaller share of each market, but this segment also saw significant growth over 2012-2017. As the US is a larger market overall compared to Canada, the US saw higher growth in absolute value sales of retail adult incontinence over 2012-2017, equating to USD527 million, compared to USD84 million in Canada.  Canada, however, saw a higher growth rate, at a 9% CAGR over 2012-2017, compared with 6% in the US.

Both moderate/heavy and light incontinence experience high growth

Light adult incontinence and moderate/heavy adult incontinence saw fairly similar growth rates. Growth in light adult incontinence has been driven by increasing awareness and acceptance among young females, resulting in a willingness to move away from sanitary protection products, which are often used as an alternative, towards specific adult incontinence products. Improvements in products targeted towards the male population, as well as new and improved marketing campaigns, have also helped tap into this underserved segment. Growth in moderate/heavy adult incontinence has been driven mostly by the ageing population, the increasing mobility of the older generation, and product development improvements.

Demographics and lifestyle trends

As in most other developed markets, the US and Canada are both witnessing the population age at a relatively rapid pace. While the overall population in North America recorded a CAGR of less than 1% over 2012-2017, the population aged 65 and older grew at a rate in excess of 3% over the same period. Since consumers over the age of 65 are the most significant purchasers of adult incontinence products, the ageing population is a positive sign for the industry. The generation of older consumers are also more active than ever before. New product developments and innovation in incontinence products that are thinner, more comfortable, and more discreet, have been driven by the consumer need for these products to fit their active lifestyles.

The industry will continue to grow as manufacturers further improve on products and create offerings that are more attractive in design and less limiting to consumers.  In addition to the favourable demographic trends, the adult incontinence market is also benefitting from an improvement in consumer perception, as well as increased education and awareness that people of all ages suffer from incontinence. As more consumers come to realise the prevalence of incontinence across the age spectrum, they become less resistant to purchasing these products when they need them.

E-commerce grows rapidly in both the US and Canada

Health and beauty specialist retailers (which includes pharmacies and drugstores) accounted for 63% of sales in Canada in 2017, making this the most popular channel for adult incontinence purchases in the country. This is mostly due to the convenient locations of pharmacies throughout Canada. In the US, health and beauty specialist retailers accounted for only 32% of adult incontinence sales. Mixed retailers lead in the US market with a 39% share of adult incontinence sales, as such retailers are strongly positioned in the US, with a wide product variety and competitive prices. This includes club stores such as Costco, as well as mass merchandisers such as Target and Walmart.

Internet retailing saw the fastest growth in sales of adult incontinence in North America over 2012-2017, with a CAGR of 18%. As many individuals are still reluctant to enquire about or purchase incontinence products in-store due to embarrassment, internet retailing allows consumers to avoid this issue. Ecommerce also allows orders in bulk. Additionally, consumer migration to internet retailing has been boosted by the success of online-only retailers that specialise in adult incontinence – most notably, Home Delivery Incontinence Supplies [HDIS] in the US, which offers a vast product selection and personalised customer service.

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