The nonwoven wipes market can be subdivided into two major types:
- Consumer wipes
- Industrial wipes.
Consumer wipes include baby wipes, personal care wipes and household or homecare wipes, while industrial wipes are broken down into general purpose, specialty, food service and healthcare wipes.
Data from Smithers Pira’s The Future of Global Wipes to 2021 forecasts that for 2016, the consumer wipes market is valued at around $11 billion and the industrial wipes market will be valued at about $3.0 billion. This $14 billion market will use about 1.1 million tonnes of nonwovens.
By 2011, nonwoven wipes as a market had recovered from the global recession and were growing at increasingly higher rates. But in 2016, much of this recovery is being threatened, by Chinese, Brazilian and southern and eastern European economic regression, and Russian, Turkish and Iranian political instability. Despite this, the fundamental drivers for wiper growth are strong enough that projected growth (2016-21) exceeds that of the wider nonwoven market.
In mature geographic regions, new products and increased interest in sustainability will drive growth; while emerging market regions continue to discover the efficiencies offered to institutions by industrial wipes, and the convenience and time-saving offered to increasingly affluent consumers.
Globally, baby wipes are present in almost every country that wipes are consumed. This universality contributes to the size of the market as well as its endurance. Growth rates for baby wipes are only now slowing after over twenty years of expansion – in contrast there is evidence that some home care and personal care formats may be reaching a market equilibrium or even starting to decline after only 5-10 years.
Recent innovations in baby wipes globally include:
- ‘Sensitive’ products – with no fragrance or alcohol, hypoallergenic properties, and mild, natural lotions
- Wipes made with regenerated cotton – taking advantage of a low cost of recycled cotton raw material
- Products using lyocell – with consumers coming to recognise the environmental credentials of this wood fibre raw material.
While baby wipes as a market are mature, the fact is that this segment will still represent almost 28% of the value and almost 50% of the nonwovens volume used in the global wipes market in 2021. The size of this market ensures both continued attention and innovation in baby wipes.
Personal care wipes
Personal care is the smallest, most specialised segment of the wipes market. It will generate about $2.8 billion in sales and consume about 88,400 tonnes of nonwovens in 2016. By 2021, this will increase to around $4.1 billion in sales and 133,500 tonnes of consumed nonwovens.
Personal care wipes include several important sub-segments:
- Adult moist toilet tissue
- Children/toddler toilet care wipes
- Feminine hygiene wipes
- Cosmetic/facial wipes
- Adult incontinence/bathing wipes
- Other personal care wipes.
Personal care wipes remain among the fastest growing wipes segments and contain some of the smaller, more specialised and higher priced end uses. These products are commonly also the most discretionary type of wipes, with consumers more likely to revert to older, cheaper products or, in developing markets postpone use, when under economic stress.
The cosmetic/facial wipes are the largest sub-segment of the personal care market, and simultaneously are, on average, the highest priced. Cosmetic/facial wipes are in the initial phase of a growth curve, which will perpetuate as they continue to be introduced into more regions worldwide.
Home care or household wipes
In 2016 home care wipes is the largest wipes segment, having overtaken baby wipes in 2015, it now commands a market share of around 30%. The home care or household wipes market segment includes several important sub-segments:
- Cleaning/disinfectant wipes
- Wet floor wipes
- Electrostatic wipes
- Furniture/Glass wipes
- Automotive wipes
The fundamental drivers for home care or household wipes vary by application, though convenience and timesaving are common to all. These wipes are similar to personal care wipes in that they are perceived as “wants” rather than “needs”, though the audience for these wipes is broader and more diverse than for personal care wipes. Some sub-segments, like electrostatic dusting wipes, have become the default choice for this task, while others, like bathroom cleaning wipes can easily be replaced by liquid cleaners and paper towels.
Industrial wipes or institutional wipes are products sold business-to-business – and although some applications are similar to those served by consumer wipes, they are typically restricted to commercial operations.
The industrial or institutional wipes market segment includes four important sub-segments:
- General purpose
- Food service
The general purpose industrial wipes category is the largest single sub-segment of the industrial wipes market. These wipes compete with both cheaper paper wipes and re-usable textiles (rags or scraps). Innovation in general purpose industrial wipes includes the newer wet industrial wipes, like Georgia-Pacific’s Brawny Wet Shop Towels, which combine task specific liquids with one hand accessible dispensers. Kimberly-Clark’s Waterless Hand Cleaners and their Wet-task System wipers, which are supplied dry, but designed for consumer supplied solutions to be added prior to use, are also new products here.
The industrial wipes market segment will generate about $3.0 billion in sales and consume about 302,000 tonnes of nonwovens in 2016. By 2021, this is set to increase to a little over $4.0 billion in sales and 427,600 tonnes of consumed nonwovens.
Industrial wipes serve some of the markets, like automotive and construction, which have rebounded and are servicing pent up demand from the global recession. Additionally, even in regions with slower than expected economic growth, government stimuli typically target these industries.
Due to the substantial growth within the wipes market Smithers Pira successfully launched its Global Outlook for Wipes conference in November in London, UK. This was Europe’s first business event dedicated to wipes, and was constructed on a foundation of research conducted directly with the global wipes industry to explore the latest in science, technology, business, and EU regulations.
The Future of Global Wipes to 2021 contains full global market data and analysis of this dynamic and evolving segment is available to purchase online.