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Adult Incontinence market getting traction from Protective Underwear

  1. Adult Incontinence: market size and trends

  2. Causes of incontinence

  3. Categories within Adult Incontinence

    • Trends in the European and US markets

Adult Incontinence: market size and trends

With virtually every country in the world experiencing growth in the number and proportion of aging persons in their population[1], the global Adult Incontinence market is booming.

According to Euromonitor International, it reached nearly $10 bn in 2019, or 24 bn units (where 1 unit = 1 pad or 1 pant) and is expected to hit $14 bn by 2024[2]. Inco products are getting traction in all regions, particularly in Europe and the US, characterized by declining birth rates. In the United States alone, retail sales for Incontinence products for adults hit $2.2 bn in 2019, and are estimated to reach $2.76 bn by 2024, according to market researcher Mintel. 

Key drivers are aging, greater consumer awareness, and higher incomes. Another contributing factor is the rise of online channels, which in turns translates into a much wider breadth of choice and, consequently, better product access. Last but not least, innovation has been a major force in recent years because of the positive feedback loop between consumer demand, the range of products offered and research. This has led to the more and more widespread realization, especially among startups, that the Adult Incontinence industry is ripe for disruption. 

As for Baby Diapers, the potential for newcomers to penetrate the Inco market is sky-high. With the strengthening of e-commerce in India, China, and Western Europe, the market is increasingly long-tailed, that is, an ever-expanding number of startups and private labels are catering to a vaster and vaster range of niches, launching products with features not available from the industry veterans. Also, e-commerce platforms are heavily marketing their private label equivalents, providing small players with the firepower they need to take on leading enterprises. Therefore, loyalty to established brands is at an all-time low. Big corporations are not standing by. The world population is not getting any younger and it makes perfect sense for brands to branch out into Adult Incontinence products. Interestingly, a rising number of female hygiene manufacturers are rushing into the market, leveraging their brand name as a launchpad to expand their presence into the light incontinence category.

This is a golden opportunity, as women are already power users. In North America, for instance, numbers of women using period products equals those of women using incontinence products. 

Causes of incontinence

The loss of bladder control is a common problem: according to Johns Hopkins Medicine, over 25 million adult Americans experience temporary or chronic urinary incontinence. This condition can occur at any age, but it is more common in women over the age of 50[3]. Over 60, women are twice as likely as men to suffer from bladder leakage[4]. Contrary to conventional wisdom, old age is not the most important cause for urinary incontinence. 

Indeed, it can happen for several reasons[5], such as:

  • weakening of pelvic floor muscles – often related to pregnancy 
  • post-traumatic stress disorder
  • diabetes and obesity
  • neurological conditions 
  • urinary tract infections or tumors in the bladder

Urinary incontinence is not gender-neutral either, in that women tend to suffer more than men due to menopause, pregnancy, and childbirth.

Categories within the Adult Incontinence market

Although Adult Incontinence is a common problem, the solution as far as underwear is concerned can vary depending on the condition. Broadly speaking, there are three main categories: Briefs, Underpads and Protective Underwear

Briefs and Underpads are usually reserved to hospitalized subjects, where resting in bed is required. The latter, instead, is for autonomous people demanding a higher comfort fit, and is therefore more appropriate for self-sufficient subjects aged 60 to 75. 

Unlike Baby Diapers, where parents decide what is best for their babies, consumers of Adult Incontinence products are expected to express themselves directly
A few patterns shaping the Adult Incontinence market, though, are similar to Baby Diapers, in that the stronger the purchasing power, the higher the demand. And with more demands comes greater market specialization.

Trends in the European and US Adult Inco markets

Not for nothing, in these areas there is more variety as regards colors and sizes, and innovation is at the highest. Great progress, for instance, has been made in thinning the product without compromising absorbency or leakage protection. This has led to new niches emerging, making Adult Incontinence the most dynamic and vibrant market across Europe and the US - the latter also being a magnet for European and Asian manufacturers, itching for entering the North American market.

Although recent, another powerful trend, also helped by e-retailers, is that of natural Adult Inco products, that only recently have started springing from the Lady and Baby segments where they were relegated. As competition gets more cutthroat and environmental concerns more common, natural products are not to be underestimated - especially given that newcomers need to differentiate themselves by mainstream enterprises.

Thanks to our over 30-year experience in the Adult Incontinence industry, made up of Brief proven technology and the state-of-the-art Pant one, as our latest Protective Underwear machine at 500 ppm - AP5 line -, GDM could be the answer for all your specific need.

Would you like to deep dive on your current opportunities offered by the Inco market? Get in contact with us!

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