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Global Baby Nappies/Diapers/Pants Update: Balancing Affordability and Premium Innovation

October 2021

The pandemic has served as a double-edged sword for the global nappies/diapers/pants industry. On the one hand, greater price sensitivity has weakened spending power and birth rates, while on the other, increased health and eco awareness has popularised value-added product features with ethical and “clean” origins. These competing forces inevitably raise the questions of how to reach the “sweet spot” where quality and value meet, and how to maintain the balance in the post-pandemic world.

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This report comes in PPT.

Key Findings

Growing awareness, rapid urbanisation and product variety contribute to category growth, while declining birth rates curtail moment

Developing countries are the main engine driving growth in nappies/diapers/pants, with the disposable pant format seeing the strongest momentum and most vibrant industry innovations, while the dominant nappies/diapers category navigates a more nuanced global battlefield. Though still a marginal segment, the cloth format continues imposing competitive pressure, given its eco-friendly and affordability advantages.

Reinforced price sensitivity propels supply chain optimisation, portfolio diversification and targeted value communications

As financial uncertainty and price inflation drive consumers to seek value-centric products without compromising on quality, companies looking to address the mass audience are expected to reassess the supply chain for cost reductions and further articulate functionality-centric value propositions that resonate well with millennial and generation Z parents, a key audience of nappies/diapers/pants.

Demand for ethical product features and holistic care drives brand positioning shift and opens up premiumisation opportunities

As COVID-19 has elevated parents’ concerns about their babies’ health, their expectations for conscience, transparency and care to be executed in a more precise way are growing. In response, companies vying for value growth are increasingly banking on a greener supply chain, more diversified portfolios, smart technologies, as well as claims and social campaigns that align with consumers’ priorities and values.

An omnichannel strategy, including strengthened digital agility, customisability and authenticity, will drive long-term growth

With the pandemic driving e-commerce’s growth at an unprecedented rate, a robust digital strategy has become a vital element in a brand’s retail success. As millennial and generation Z parents look online for a hassle-free shopping experience, and hope to form a deeper connection with brands, companies are striving for a balance between customisability and inclusivity.



Key findings
Developing world continues driving growth in nappies /diapers/pants
MEA and APAC developing markets offer long-term per-capita potential
Rise in couple-with-children household type drives developing needs
Lifestyle shifts cement China’s leadership despite demographic headwind
Impact of China’s three-child policy on its population structure unclear
Recovery speed influences spending potential and category value growth
China: focus shifts from sustaining recovery to dealing with rising risks
US: recovery seems to have peaked, as Delta variant spreads
Low-income cohort to power the next wave of spending
Affordability makes open tape nappies/diapers popular targets…
…while pants drive future category growth, albeit from a small base
Comfort, ease and versatility continue driving innovation in pants
Cloth diapers: the challenger that offers cost and eco advantages
E-commerce was already poised for growth pre-pandemic…
…and, buoyed by the pandemic, has gained new momentum
US in focus: brands diverge on digital engagement and satisfaction
Low cost and ease form pinnacle of online diaper shopping preference
Personalised ordering and delivery features gain popularity
Empathetic marketing addresses babyhood reality and diaper poverty
Gradual rebound, with demographic trends back in the driver’s seat
As pandemic dampens income and widens inequality…
…consumers place an increased emphasis on value-centric offerings
Name recognition alone does not justify high prices
Where quality and value meet strikes a sweet spot
Manufacturers strive for resilience and cost efficiency via localisation …
...while retailers democratise sought-after features via private label
Value creation through enhanced benefits and elevated messaging
Ethical and health claims gather pace on the digital shelf
Western Europe claims highest shares of top claims combined
Income and awareness shape claim-making and pricing
Segmented pricing and targeted innovation assist gain in poorer markets
A diversified approach helps develop localised competitive edge
Smart tech further brings autonomy and holistic wellness to baby care
US in focus: t he segmented journey to premiumisation
US in focus: clean claims associated with higher prices
US in focus: leading brands ramp up volume but lag in portfolio breadth
France, Germany and UK lead in environmental sustainability
Four largest markets rank in the lower tiers of sustainable behaviour
Quest for sustainable innovations is set to accelerate post-crisis
Growing trust in green claims mirrors industry-led awareness building
Insurgents lead the way while multinationals see room for more actions
Path to sustainability: begin with clean, plastic-free sourcing
Path to sustainability: sustainable shopping guided by retailers
Path to sustainability: social equality and environmental awareness
Path to sustainability: systemised post-use recycling and composting
Strategic recommendations
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Tissue and Hygiene

This is the aggregation of retail and away-from home tissue and disposable hygiene products as well as Rx/reimbursement adult incontinence.

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